Sunday, 9 December 2018
As usual, the Christmas Tree we got from Seven Mile Beach..
turned out to be a bit too big for the living room..
From where I'm sitting it's looks pretty good anyway though..
Sunday, 2 December 2018
It's been a long time since I've done a rogaine. In fact I can't remember the last one - perhaps it was a mountain bike one I did in Victoria in the 90s, or maybe something in NSW. I'm not normally a huge fan of rogaining - it's always seemed to me that they take a long time (6, 12 or 24 hours) and the large scale maps without accurate details can make the control locations a bit dodgy. Route choices can also be a bit of a lottery as you might find yourself stuck in impassable vegetation or you might get a clear run - you can't tell from the map!
Having said that, there hasn't been much orienteering on lately, and after a few weekends of us all mooching around at home, I was keen to get out and do something, so a few days before the entries closed I tried to interest the family in attending this event. I had no takers until 11:45pm on Tuesday night - 15 minutes before entries closed, when Jon suddenly decided that it would be fun. And I'm so glad he did, as it was really fun. Jon and I entered as a team and we entered Zali and Jett as their own team (once the organisers had conferred and decided that it would be ok for them to compete - they would normally need someone over 18 to be with anyone under 14). Paul and Clare entered as a team as well. We were all doing the 6hr version, starting as noon Saturday and finishing at 6pm. All the serious teams were planning to do 15 or 24 hours versions finishing around noon on Sunday.
Jon and I were a bit nervous about how Zali and Jett would take the news that we had entered them in a 6 hour endurance event while they slept, but they were totally fine about it, and in fact by the time we started, they were downright enthusiastic which was fantastic. I think the fact that they would be able to make their own decisions for the entire day appealed to them (and of course they would be the masters of their own snack supplies).
So after work on Friday we headed to the Forestier Peninsula just near Dunally and set up camp in a field on a property called Bangor. There was just time to play a game of frisbee golf before setting down to bed.
The view out of the tent on Saturday morning was great - sunny with blue skies - perfect for rogaining with just a hint of snake. Once we were given our maps we had a leisurely 3 hours left to ready ourselves and plan our route. The key thing about any sort of score event, whether it's 45 minutes or 24 hours, is that you plan a route that can be cut short or extended near the end, depending on how you are going for time - the penalties for arriving even 10 seconds later are harsh, while arriving back with an hour to spare is simply wasteful!
It seems that Jon and I planned a totally different course to most others, as we had been out for almost 3 hours before we reached a control that another team had been to first (you had to write your team number and the time down on a sheet at the control when you got there - an activity which distracted us so much we almost forget to punch a number of times).
Jon and I were really happy with our navigation all day, we only lost time when we struggled to spot the control flag - but generally we managed to be exactly where at least one of us thought we were at all times - which was great! We traversed bushy hills and open fields, ran along tracks, jumped over steams and did a fair bit of bush bashing. We saw 3 echidnas, 1 wombat, and a snake swimming across a dam.
Aside from trying to get the navigation right, our strategy was to walk all the uphill and rough bits, but where the vegetation allowed it, jog the flats and downhills - so whilst it was probably pretty slow for Jon (although he is recovering from his calf injury) we kept a really comfortable pace all day - it made it really enjoyable!
Since I last went rogaining the sport has created rules around the carrying of gps devices - basically you aren't allowed to have them with you. If you want to take a phone, you have to seal it in a bag which was 'tamperproof' and if you used it on the course you were automatically disqualified. This was a bit of a pain, as firstly I would have liked to be able to check the kids were fine via text message a few times during the day, and secondly I would have texted Denny and asked her to feed the cat, as we forgot to arrange anything for her (don't worry she was fine).
The second half of our race contained the bigger hills, and our route had us climbing up Mt Forestier, the highest point on the map, with 90 minutes left to go. Our elation at making it to the high scoring control at the top swiftly turned to concern as found our route down was pretty thick and horrible. Luckily it wasn't our un-doing and we ended up having enough time left to try to get a few of the bonus controls we'd saved until the end.
We reached our last control with 20 minutes to go, and after some discussion we decided we didn't really have time to try for one more (well I decided that, as one of my lasting memories from a previous rogaine is having to run 5k flat out to the finish after 8 hours of running, and the whole experience was really unpleasant). This time we had a nice relaxing walk back and arrived with 10 minutes to spare - pretty perfect!
Once we checked in we looked around nervously for Zali and Jett as we really had no idea how they would go - we had both thought they might come back really early, so it was a bit of a surprise that there was no sign of them. But with 2 minutes to go they suddenly appeared galloping down the track towards the finish. They had to run pretty hard but they made it with 30 seconds to spare - pretty amazing timing!
They were both exhausted and relieved to be back - it seems they had a few problems in the 2nd part of their course. Amongst other things they'd lost Jett's compass and retraced their steps to try to find it (to no avail). They'd also lost their 2 pencils (for signing at the controls), so had to do it with charcoal they found on the ground, and there were a few controls they hadn't been able to find which they were dissappointed about. Despite all of that we are so proud of them - they covered 22 kilometres and finished right on time, what a pair of champions! Jon and I did 26kms, so it wasn't that really that much more. Ultimately Clare and Paul won the day with 1000 points, Jon and I were 2nd on 900.
Driving home the kids were pretty sure they wouldn't be signing up for another event, but with a good nights sleep in them they have both mentioned today that they might like to try the 15 hour event next time (there's nothing scheduled until late next year), so that's pretty cool! I think they would have learnt a lot from this event (not least to keep track of their stuff), so they will certainly be a formidable team the next time around! And how cool is it that we can give them a map and send them confidently out into forest for 6 hours! So proud.
Sunday, 25 November 2018
It's a few weeks ago now, but the kids were course setters for a twilight series orienteering event which happened to co-incide with Halloween.
So they got to give competitors some extra fun with rubber snakes, plastic spiders and a scattering of bones around the control sites.
The forecast for the next week isn't very good so I expect Pinto will be spending a lot of time in her favourite wet-weather retreat - her hammock.
I'm not sure she realises how much stress the tower is under when she is in it.
Becuase work is so hectic at the moment, I find the only way to guarantee I will have time to exercise in the daylight is to do it first thing in the morning. One of the easiest ways to get a run in early is to stop at Mt Nelson College on my way into town and run around the 5k cross crountry trail, it's a little bit rocky in parts and it's very muddy after rain, but other than that it's pretty good, and parts of it have been especially pretty lately as the orchids have been flowering..
Sunday, 11 November 2018
What could be better than a paddle from beautiful Spring Beach at Orford..
followed by not one but two fun sprint races around the Orford Youth Camp area..
You're probably thinking NOTHING. Nothing could possibly be better than that. And you would be almost right, cos there's actually just two tiny things which would be better than that. The first would be not owing Zali and Jett $15 each in splits cash after 2 races. And the second would be not mispunching on the 2nd race. But they are minor quibbles. Today was a super fun day followed by a lovely and delicous family dinner which I cooked most of, but Jon did most of the tidying up.
Tuesday, 30 October 2018
Zali and I made these for Halloween themed family dinner on Sunday.
In our house, if you tidy an area, or clear a space, then turn your back on that nice clear space, you'll turn back to discover a crafter has set up camp with all their stuff...
I'm sure this happens to other poeple who live with crafters. There's probably a support group for us all. Although as Zali points out, I am also a crafter, so I can't really complain
The assembly area for orienteering the other day was so delightful we could have been in Switzerland. Well. Maybe.
Nevertheless it was lovely.
This is what my desk looks like on a typical day...
Work can be fun. But it's more fun being on holidays!
Tuesday, 9 October 2018
The final day of the Carnival was held at Keynes Gap, an area 40 minutes from where I was staying and the usual 90+ minutes from where all the schools teams were staying. The area was generally open farmland but with linear sections of rocks and boulders all over it. It was great fun to orienteer there - there were people and controls everywhere!
I had a pretty clean run and finally managed to win an event - yay! I was a mere 5 seconds ahead of 2nd place, and it was just a further 7 seconds back to third. From examining the splits I can see that it was a tight tussle between the three of us the whole way, and at the 4th last control I was 3rd, but then the two people ahead of me made small mistakes at the 3rd last, while I found it pretty cleanly and then managed to hold them off until the finish!
Zali bookended her carnival week with another strong run - finishing not just as the first Z in her class (an achievement as there are 2 Zali's, 2 Zoe's and 2 Zara's) but also as 1st Australian and 4th overall (pesky NZ runners dominated many of the junior classes all week).
Jett had another good mid pack run - he's going to do really well next year when he is in his 2nd year in the class and the older kids move up to the next age group.
Jon had a nice time watching everyone clamber over the rocks from the assembly area (that's him in the hat behind Zali and Jett..)
So all up it was a great week. Jon and the kids had a great (although exhausting) time as part of the schools team, and while it was a bit odd for to me to be all on my own, I wasn't really on my own as I was hanging with friends so that was cool too.
Jon had bravely entered the M21 Elite course for the Australian Long Distance Championships, but unfortunately he stepped in a hole at absolute furthest point of his course and immediately tore his calf muscle. With no way of walking anywhere he started crawling towards the nearest track. After 30 metres he realised it wasn't going to work so he searched for a suitable crutch. Luckily there was a suitable gnarly gandalf stick nearby, so he hauled himself upright and limped pathetically (I'm guessing), up to the track. Along the way he met another competitor and asked them to pass on a message to the organisers when they reached the spectator control. In the meantime he continued his hobbling towards a small cleared area that was marked on the map. Once he got there he still had a long wait before being picked up but he has since admitted that it was pretty much the first time he'd had to himself all week so he quite enjoyed it. Eventually an organiser and first aid person came out in a car and picked him up. I'm sure Jon pleaded for them to take him to the nearest airport for some more peace and quiet but they returned him to the event arena and gave him some good first aid treatment and sympathy before releasing him back into the custody of the Schools Team.
The rest of us had respectable runs. Zali was 7th, Jett was halfway down his field in 12th, and I was 2nd by a few minutes. I would certainly have been 3rd to Clare if she hadn't had a bit of a blowout on the 4th control, losing 20 minutes and then sight in her left eye when she scratched it on a branch. She also topped off her bad run by falling into a prickle bush and getting a butt full of splinters.
The area was quite steep with some delightful little patches of native forest and runnable pine forest, but with an awful lot of horrible cleared forest and young pine plantations in between, which necessitated a lot of fire trail running which many people found a bit tedious.
The other eventful thing which happened (aside from Jon's calf and Clare's prickle butt) was the wedding. When the organisers were setting up the arena the previous day they encountered a wedding party making final plans for the next day's ceremony. Apparently it took a while to convince the wedding people that it wasn't a joke and that there were really going to be 1000 extra guests (not one of which would be wearing appropriate attire) at their wedding ceremony. Luckily it took place after most of the orienteers had been to the control which was just 10 metres from the ceremony site, so I don't think their day was totally ruined. I snuck a picture from a distance..that's the bride on the far right.
So all up it was an eventful day!
Friday, 5 October 2018
After 6 straight days of running we all finally got a rest day. Phew!
We're staying in Lyndoch in the Barossa Valley surrounded by hectares and hectares of vineyards, so the obvious thing to do on a rest day was to go cellar door visiting. However for two reasons I decided to drive to one of the last remaining areas of native forest in this region instead.
The first was because I'd generally rather watch paint dry than visit wineries. The second reason was because I wanted to revisit the area of my first ever major orienteering competition at Kaiserstuhl conservation park.
I'd forgotten what the terrain was like and it was actually really nice - particularly on the nice sunny day we had today. I did a long-ish but easy hike to a lookout and back.
There were lots of delicate spring flowers out, and quite few heavily laden mother kangraoos who looked like they were housing reluctant teenage kangaroos well past their move-out-of-home date! I also bumped into some germans who claimed they still hadn't seen any living kangaroos on their entire journey from the Gold Coast. I think they just didn't know where to look.
I don't remember too much about the event in 1986 although I've just looked up the results and I was 7th, behind Clare Hawthorne (5th) but ahead of Nic's sister Sue. The whole experience must have been a good one as by 1990 I'd been back to the mainland to orienteer quite a few times and I was heading off to JWOC with the Australian Team (which included Clare Hawthorne and Jonathan McComb). The results show that Jon was also at that event, but he didn't do so well, taking 106 minutes on a course won by Blair Trewin in 46 minutes.
Today was the final and all important relay day for the schools teams - so all the kids were fully decorated in team colours by the time Nic and I got out to the event.
Zali was second leg runner and unfortunately didn't have a great run, but her team mates both did pretty well, especially the third leg runner so they ended up in a respectable 7th place.
Jett was running 3rd leg on the unofficial Tasmanian Junior Boys team, he had another consistent run and his team was 8th, just 1 place behind the official Tasmanian team.
The rest of us had a mass start after the relays had finished and I found out first hand how easy it was to lose time in the dense pine forest. After losing the gang of people I'd been running with, then spending 5 minutes wandering around the forest looking for a tree stump, followed by another 5 minutes at the very next control I decided to skip the last few controls and come in early!
In the afternoon I drove back down to West Beach (which took nearly 2 hours due to traffic) to watch the official team presentation stuff, then Nic and I went on to a vietnamese restaurant on the north of the city to have dinner with Clare and her crew. It was a nice night.
Thursday, 4 October 2018
Today was the official start of the Schools Championships, so after some house table tennis Nicola and I headed out to the event to watch the runners come in.
The owners of this place we are staying at seem to have two big interests, quaint car memorabilia, and parisian themed nick-nacks - both of which are spread liberally throughout the house. Whilst it's not exactly to our taste, it's a big and comfortable and pretty close to the rest of the events so it's great.
Anyway - out at the orienteering I saw Zali run in with a pretty good time (although she lost 4 minutes on one control early on). Her time was good enough for 7th overall, just missing out on being in the top 3 Australians - so she was happy with that.
A little while later Jett came in with a decent time in the the junior boys competition (once again ahead of some of the official team members which shows how much he has improved since the selection trials). Nic's daughter Ivy is a reserve on the ACT team just like Jett - so they both get to run the same course as the other kids but their results don't count towards the teams results - so they get the same experiences as the team members, but without of the pressure!
Ivy also did pretty well in what was a longer course than she had ever run at 6.1 km (and I know exactly how long it felt as I ran her course later on as part of the public race series).
By the time I had run my race we'd spent nearly the entire day out at the event (and after being 28 degrees on the previous day, it was puffa jacket weather today). I'm looking forward to the rest day on Friday that's for sure!