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Reminded of Vermont… again

I thought I’d share a blog about some of the fun activities that we’ve been doing on the weekends in and around Adelaide, since sometimes they’re much more exciting to read about than research! This past weekend, we went with our neighbors, Liz and Ryan, down to Victor Harbor on Saturday for a 4 hour Rogaine. For those of you who haven’t heard of Rogaining (we certainly hadn’t before we got here), it is essentially an extended orienteering event. Rogaine originated in Australia in the 1970s and stands for “Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Endurance”. Apparently, the fact that the acronym is also the name of a well-known hair re-growth product is just a coincidence. Typically, Rogaines go for 12 or 24 hours. At only 4 hours, ours was titled “A Brief Encounter.”

Even though it is different than orienteering, the event this weekend reminded me of Vermont because I’ve done many family orienteering events there. My family Thanksgiving orienteering usually lasts less than 2 hours, so 4 hours felt like quite a bit—especially since we ran substantially more than half of the event. But, it was an excellent time. Usually Rogaines are out in the bush, but this was in an urban setting, so we found ourselves running through neighborhoods and along busy streets. One thing that’s definitely different from orienteering in Vermont is that here there are fences that prevent you from going in a straight line to the different controls (at least in the more urban events). And, it’s generally much drier out here in Australia.

We opted to go for the most scenic route instead of trying to get the highest possible points, so we went out to Granite Island, known for its Little Penguins, and also up to a bluff overlooking the rest of Victor Harbor. Despite doing the scenic route, we ended up first in the Novice category. Of course there were only two other teams in our category, which was for people who had never done a Rogaine before, but we finished 14th out of 63 teams overall and felt pretty good. Two women actually won the event, and they ran the whole thing. We worked it out and realized that they essentially ran a marathon! For those of you considering doing a marathon, Rogaining would be excellent training because the navigating takes your mind off the running, and it’s really good fun.

The other aspect of a Rogaine that makes it different from orienteering is that it always includes some time navigating in the dark. In fact, they always do the Rogaines during a full moon so that you are less likely to run into things while you’re navigating at night. We did alright following the streets on the map to find the controls, but it will be a different story at night out in the bush without trails to guide us. Our neighbors told us that Rogaining always involves getting lost at least once, and that you’re supposed to carry a snake bite kit with you. Those two facts make me a little nervous about longer Rogaines in the bush, but I think we’re going to give it a go either in March or April, and we’ll let you know how it goes. Assuming we find our way back at the end, and aren’t eaten by feral camels or rabbits.

One of the best parts of a Rogaine is the Hash House. This is where all the food is, so once you finish running around, you can come back and eat a hot meal. On a longer Rogaine, you are required to stop in at the Hash House at some time during the night. When we finished, we were mostly just happy to have water since we hadn’t brought quite enough with us for the four hours. But the pizza tasted great as well. Since we usually eat a wonderful Thanksgiving meal after our orienteering in Vermont, I was happy to have some hot food to eat. Anyways, the event has me thinking that maybe I should introduce VLS to Rogaining when I come back next year!

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