Category Archives: Rogaine

12 Hour Rogaine + BSAR Training

Earlier this year I joined Bush Search And Rescue. I thought it would give me some good opportunities to go bush bashing, with the convenience of a bus driving me there and back, so no need to be concerned about logistics, or even having to plan where to go!

Last weekend was the first training I did with them. It involved a 12 hour rogaine (which VRA was running anyway) and then various training the next day.

I got to the police pickup point at 6:30am Saturday, where we loaded the bus with our stuff and hopped on for a 4 hour bus ride to Eldorado. It was a bit early for me to have my coffee and breakfast, so after a couple of hours I had some chocolate coated coffee beans and an oat bar.

The rogaine was from 12 noon to 12 midnight, and their briefing was at 11:45. We were running ahead of schedule, which would mean we would have plenty of time to pitch our tents and plan our rogaining route… but with about 10km to go, we got to a bridge. The driver didn’t know what load it could handle, and aside from that, knew there were overhanging trees on the road ahead that would scratch the bus. We got off, unloaded everything, and waited for some cars to give us a lift. This meant we had about 30 minutes to pitch our tents and get ready for the rogaine.

Unloaded and waiting for a lift

My rogaine partner and I were not ready, but we made it to the briefing on time, before planning our route. Since we weren’t being competitive it didn’t really matter that we set off 15 minutes late.

The rogaine was set on half paddocks and half Chiltern Mt Pilot National Park. It was mostly undulating, but there were some hilly areas that we stayed clear of!

Since I have not done any endurance training this year, I ran out of steam in a couple of hours! I was already looking at the map for a short cut back to the hash house for a rest, before heading off again at night. My partner was keen to continue though. He was twice my age, but his natural walking pace was twice mine, and I often had to run a bit to catch up. Although I was navigating too, he was always ahead as he was faster. I think I was first to spot checkpoints only twice!

There were 2 checkpoints we couldn’t find during the day. Although we were never completely lost, at one point, we really couldn’t pick exactly where we were on the map so decided to head in some vague direction back to a road. On the way I spotted a windmill in the distance, and since one of the checkpoints was labelled as “a windmill” we went there. This was good, so we knew where we were again!

I spotted the windmill, but my rogaining partner walks so fast he beat me to it

Walking through a sheep paddock, I heard a loud rustle, and saw this massive lizard run up a tree! I reckon he was about 2 metres long.

Click to enlarge & see lizard better

We picked up one more checkpoint before going back to the hash house for some food. This last one at daylight was in thick scrub by a creek, with a fair amount of water. I remember thinking This would be really hard at night time! …and mentally started to change our night time plans.

Back at the hash house, I missed out on chocolate pancakes, but was left with healthy vegie lentil stew instead.

We waited until around 8pm to set off again and get some night time navigation experience.

I have only wandered around trails at night, so going cross country and having to navigate at night was a first for me.

We changed our original plans to make it much easier! We decided to stick to a road, and then navigate to easy checkpoints not far off.

The moon was nearly full, so we could see very well with our torches off, and whenever possible, kept them off so we could improve our night vision.

We got 2 checkpoints at night and missed 1. I think that’s ok. We finished early at around 10:40pm, since we had an early start on Sunday.

It was very cold over night, and there was frost on the ground in the morning! We had to be packed and breakfasted, ready to start training at 8am.

Need… chocolate coated coffee beans….

After some brief training on using the BSAR GPSs, we had some training on using police radio and cb radio. It was interesting to note we could use various police channels if the channel we were supposed to use was not in range, which would mean listening to various crooks being caught and whatever other things were going on.

Then we were put in groups, and did some line searching practice. We had to find an unconscious person (well, she was just lying on the ground having a lovely rest), administer first aid, and carry them out on a stretcher. We had to pack a fair amount of gear, like in a real search, including sleeping bag, sleeping mattress, extra warm clothes, food, first aid kit, GPSs, radios etc.

We all had different jobs and mine was on police radio. I had to communicate anything of interest back to base. I only got told off a couple of times! I said “over and out” once, like in the movies, and you are supposed to say either one or the other. I think I also said “roger that,” like in the movies, instead of “romeo”. Oh well, they said I was pretty good on the radio, and thought I had done it before. I figure if it’s a life or death situation, they are not going to care if I say roger that, over and out, or if I make up my own phonetic alphabet, because they will still understand what I’m on about.

We found the person, who conveniently had a sked stretcher next to them. So a tarp was held overhead to prevent sunburn, while she was being shuffled onto the stretcher. Meanwhile, I was communicating to base that we found the person, gave GPS coordinates, and requested help from another team. A policeman came to talk to us about how they’d usually stretcher people out in various situations etc. After a fair amount of chit chat, we decided to hurry up and get a move on, as we had to get back so we’d have time to eat lunch.

After a debriefing, we got on a smaller uncomfortable bus, that could handle the road and the bridge, back home. It was a good weekend, and even if you’re not interested in joining BSAR, I’d recommend doing some of their training just for fun.

Out of interest, this is some of the gear I used:

First Rogaine – We Came 2nd!

Yesterday was my first rogaine! It was a 6 hour event a couple hours drive north of Melbourne. I didn’t really know what to expect, but was told we’d be walking and jogging. I can manage that for 6 hours.

My all girl team consisted of 2 other girls who are hardcore adventure racers and know how to navigate. It turns out I also know how to navigate but lack the lingo. “If we go due east to the summit then we should be able to see the saddle near the water junction and from there nav to the checkpoint up on the spur” – not something I’d normally hear in everyday conversation.

We did very little running as we were rarely on tracks. I’m pretty slow at bush bashing, unlike the adventure racers who walk through scrub, over logs, and drop 2m down into creek beds as casually as if they were just walking down the street. I tend to look where I’m going, check the tree I’m about to grab onto for spiders and take the long way down to the creek bed if it’s easier. When we did get to a track and could run, this was much easier for me!

We passed through interesting land including old cottages, mines, aqueducts, bushland and many creek beds (sorry, water courses), which were fortunately all dried up. It was very hilly out there and after a couple of hours my achilles decided to complain, but since it was at an easy pace it wasn’t too bad. The weather was perfect, starting off cool and foggy, but soon enough the sun came out and it was just lovely. I wore my Nike Frees which aren’t that good for rough ground. I like my shoes loose with room to wiggle my toes about but in this situation my feet were sliding around in my shoes and I did get a couple of minor blisters, which I would never normally get. I can really see the value of trail shoes in this situation.

We got back to the Hash House with 9 minutes to spare and feasted on their amazing food! They had on offer toasties on the bbq, vegie burgers, soup, potato, rice, curry, stew and for dessert there was apple crumble and custard! Unfortunately after a million servings of the best vegie soup ever, the apple crumble had all disappeared. Next time I will have a strategy for getting all the food I want.

Not having any expectations for my first event, and going at such a casual pace, I had no idea what was considered an average score or something reasonable to aim for. It turns out we placed second! Only beaten by a team of 70 year olds!

My team mates being much faster at bush bashing than me:

How to prepare for a rogaine?

On Saturday I got my VHBOS run in (Volcanic Hills Balls of Steel), which was around 25km including Reynolds and Allendale Rds from the Wattle Glen end. It was much easier starting at this end. I plan to take in part of the VHBOS every weekend possible to get as much leg strength and mental strength from the hills as I can. My hamstrings were still pretty sore from stupidly doing RDLs on Thursday (way too late in the week for hamstring work with a long run on Saturday). I wore my Adizero PRs to see how my feet would hold up in flats over that distance. I love those shoes so much but the soles of my feet were pretty fatigued so unfortunately that means I will have to wear the Nike Frees next weekend for a rogaine.

So… this coming Saturday I will be doing a 6 hr rogaine! The course will be 60% state forest, 30% historical diggings and 10% private land. I’ve been orienteering once about 15 years ago but that was very quick and easy. I’ll be in a team of 3 and one of the girls has done a lot of this stuff so I will be in good hands.

I have been told to wear long pants and gaiters because the scrub can scratch up your legs. Well I don’t have any long pants, because who runs in long pants? I have small roc bloc gaiters for running and I have big bushwalking gaitors, but I have been told there are special orienteering ones too! The little gaiters aren’t suitable but I don’t know how uncomfortable it will be running in big bushwalking gaiters! But then, I’ve also been told it will be quite easy going walking and jogging, because obviously you can’t go at proper running speed while bush bashing. I have all the other gear – waterproof jacket, first aid kit, compass etc.

This will be my first long distance event of the year, although at an easy pace. So I’m not sure if I should be tapering or not. In any case, I am not going to risk the event with DOMS from weight lifting or any fatigue from running too much so my week will look like this:

Monday – Kettlebells
Tuesday – Gym (squats, rows, push ups, most likely followed by intervals on the C2 rower)
Wednesday – Hill sprints
Thursday – Something easy to recover from, probably kettlebells
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 6 hr rogaine
Sunday – Rest!

So… anyone reading this done any long distance orienteering or rogaining? Should I do more of a taper or not worry? Do I need to buy long pants? Or will 3/4 tights and bushwalking gaiters do? Any tips?