Andrew and I were both novices when it came to bush rogaines, having only done metrogaines, but that aside, we certainly weren’t at a disadvantage because we were used to off-route trails and navigation from trail running and other adventures.
In our preparation we were overambitious in our route planning, with our planned route being around the 100km mark! But we had options to cut corners (literally) and many corners were cut.
We started off racing the boys who went on to place 2nd in the 24-hour category before our paths diverged. The Saturday afternoon went quite smoothly. We each had a close call with a tiger snake and narrowly avoided a few navigation blunders. We nailed some good contouring from 77 to 94 to take us to the promised land: the vast western plains with the high scoring checkpoints. After a big blunder trying to reach 72 (a relatively simple one next to a dam) it was smooth sailing as we ran south with the northwester behind our backs.
Checkpoint 91 (a dam in the forest) proved a challenging checking point, especially as it was properly dark by the time we reached it. What followed from here was a long journey home. The going was tough through the bush before finding the track near checkpoint 60. We thought we had a track all the way home but managed to lose it in a clearing near checkpoint 73, meaning we ended up scrub bashing in the dark once again. The funniest part is that we ran past a walking couple on the road, only to have to run past them again about 30min later due to our navigation blunder. It felt like the hare and tortoise race!
Once we were back on course, we picked up a few more check points before reaching the hash house at 11:30pm. Dinner went down a treat! We were pretty knackered after 60+km over 11.5 hours. I was secretly relieved that this meant Sunday was going to be a much shorter outing.
We awoke at a leisurely time of 6.30am, fairly well rested. After some brekkie, we hit the trail at 7.30am, heading south for an anticlockwise loop. We made for some efficient point scoring on our until we buggered up the navigation near 49 and ended way too far north of the checkpoint, which we had to abandon to fit in 78 and 102 before our 11am deadline.
We thought we would be doing a mad sprint down the dirt road to the hash house, but we ended up with plenty of time to spare, picking up two checkpoints on our way back.
Once again, delicious catering awaited us. We calculated our own score over lunch and the biggest relief in the awards presentation came when our official score matched our self-calculated score.
The event was awesome. We both love trail running, so having a new area to explore was cool enough in itself, but throw in a great spirited competition, a buzzing vibe and impeccable event organisation, we both had one hell of a time.
And what astounded us was the entry cost at only $135. We’ve entered many a trail run event with $200 or upward entry fees, which usually only includes a t-shirt and an aid station or two, compared to 3 catered meals, 2 nights camping and access to an exclusive area of wilderness in the case of the Midlands Muster. We’re hanging up our trail running race bibs and trading them in for a compass and map, and telling all our trailing running friends to do the same! We're looking forward to the next year's event!
- Ryan King and Andrew Wright