For those who have only entered metrogaines previously, there are some important differences to be aware of for a bush event:
- Rather than being a question-and-answer scavenger hunt event, you will be searching for checkpoints, also known as controls. These checkpoints are orange and white and are made of stiff corrugated cardboard called corflute. They are three-sided and are about 30x30 cm per side.
- At each checkpoint, there will be an electronic punch that looks a bit like a plastic biro. Some team members will be wearing a little wristband with a circular disc. At each checkpoint, you will touch the disc using the punch. You need to ensure that the punch flashes a red light, which is the feedback that the visit has been registered. This can be demonstrated prior to the event start if you are unsure.
- Each checkpoint has an intention sheet taped to it. On this, you must write your team number, the time of your visit and intended next checkpoint. If your team was to become lost or injured, this information may be vital to finding you. Going to the checkpoint you indicated is not essential. You may change your mind, or perhaps never find it.
- Teams must stick together and be within voice contact at all times. All team members need to visit the checkpoints, and shouldn’t rest close to a checkpoint except for those that are also water drops.
- The checkpoints are located mostly on topographic features (watercourses, spurs, knolls, gullies). If you are in the correct location the checkpoint will be visible and easy to find.
- You’ll need to be able to read the map. Understand the contour lines and understand the colour scheme used for the vegetation on the map. Rogaine maps do not follow a standard, but recent bush rogaine maps in Tasmania have displayed vegetation such that yellow is a clearing – usually grass (eg a farm paddock, or gap in trees) and may include areas of tussock or sagg grassland, which can be slow going; white is forest or scrub and green indicates dense forest or scrub. The darker the green, the thicker the vegetation. A sample of the competition map is shown above. Note you can sometimes see individual trees as small white areas in the yellow. In many cases being able to interpret the vegetation will be very useful for locating the checkpoint quickly.
- You aren’t in suburbia, so there are relatively few tracks and roads on the map. Using the tracks that are there is often advantageous compared with going cross-country. Walking on tracks is normally faster than being in the bush, and the bends, hills and valleys of the tracks will help locate you on the map. A word of caution – The mapped tracks may not be 100% perfect, and event area is covered with minor or overgrown tracks not mapped.
- Pay careful attention to the checkpoint descriptions you will receive. Sometimes there is extra detail which will help you locate the checkpoint.
- You will need a compass. Purchase an orienteering-style base plate compass. How good are you at following a bearing over long distance? Being able to follow or check a bearing is useful to ensure you are on the desired track. Can you pace count? Most adults take about 60 double steps per 100m (more for short people, fewer for tall people). Being able to follow a bearing combined with pace counting will be a useful skill at this event in the flatter areas. The map has parallel north-south lines 1km apart aligned to magnetic north – use these to align your compass.
- Plan your route conservatively. The map area is huge, and only the very best teams will go close to visiting all of the checkpoints. The actual straight-line distance required to visit all of the checkpoints is a closely guarded secret, but it is well over 110kms.
- The use of GPS services is strictly forbidden. Using a GPS device provides an unfair advantage over those who don’t. You should carry a phone (for emergency use) and maybe you want to record your GPS track. For these uses, organisers will provide a tamper-proof bag, which will be checked when you return at the end of the event. If your tamper-proof bag has been opened, you will be withdrawn from the event. This means, if you normally wear a GPS-enabled watch, you may need to buy and carry a cheap watch. We are very strict about this rule at bush events.
- You will need to be more self-sufficient. You may be out there for longer and there are no shops. Carry clothes suitable for a variety of weather conditions, including rain. Depending on the event duration you enter, it may be dark. So have a reliable strong torch (preferably a head torch) and spare batteries. 6-hr entrants should return before night-time, but your team should have a torch in case your plan doesn’t work out.
- It’s highly unlikely that you will fall and be injured to the point that you can’t proceed, but nevertheless it is possible. In choosing your clothing and weather protection consider how you would cope if the worst happens and you are forced to wait many hours for rescue in cold/wet/windy conditions. You can’t expect to be comfortable but you don’t want to suffer from hypothermia (exposure).
- Some roads will be regularly patrolled. If you are sick or injured make your way to the patrolled route (shown on the map) or a waterdrop. Extra details about the safety patrol will be provided at the event.
- The same basic principles of the sport still applies. Your team is trying to get the most points in the available time. For a bush rogaine, particularly if you are doing the 24-hr or roving 15-hr you will need to consider the strengths and weaknesses of your team. When do you visit the hilly bits? Where is the best place to be at night particularly if you can’t find the checkpoint and need to relocate? Do you want to stay out the full 24 hours or would you benefit from a few hours rest overnight and/or a hot meal at the Hash House?
- If you enter the 24-hour event, it doesn’t mean you have to walk for 24 hours, particularly if you’re new to endurance events and/or bush rogaining. Many excellent rogainers like to have a rest overnight and perform better for it.
- Food will be available at any time from 5pm to after the finish of the event at the hash house. At this event, the hash house is not perfectly centred on the map due to constraints with finding a suitable campsite, and landowner permissions. However, it will be possible to do “loops” in and out of the hash house.
- Take enough food with you. Your planned route may “loop” back though the hash house to eat, but consider that you may fall behind schedule.
- There are water drops on the course. Please bring enough water for your camping needs, and enough to fill up whenever your teams departs the hash house (assembly area).
- Event organisers have allowed for entrants with limited bush experience. There are numerous easier checkpoints close to the hash house. Also – organisers will be providing advice to novices on using compasses and route choice at the event. If you need help please ask when you register on the Saturday morning.
- The detailed event info provides a list of mandatory items. Make sure you have these as they are required for your safety.
These links may be useful, despite some variations compared to a Rogaining Tasmania event:
- Video introduction to Rogaining, by the South Australians
- Rogaining Tips & Tricks, by the South Australians
- Night Navigation, also by the South Australians
- Beginners Guide to Rogaining, from Snowys (outdoor stores)
- Navigation Guide – from Queensland
- Equipment guide, from NSW
- Novice Guide, from Western Australia
And there are so many more. Have a search on Google.
Written by Gary Carroll, September 2022