The Saunders Stampede

On Sunday I competed in my first Rogaining event, The Saunders Stampede 6 hour Bush Roganie held at Sanderson by the SA Rogaining Association. I competed with Greg and Mark in a team of three; Mark had done one before, but Greg and I were newbies.

The Hash Hut

We had about 30 minutes to study our map, solve the travelling salesman problem and get pumped. Our planned route took us to 28 controls, doing a clockwise circuit across the map. It had been raining all week, but although the skies were cloudy the rain stayed away which provided ideal conditions to stay cool without being uncomfortable.

When heading downhill we jogged, and kept a steady pace uphill. Greg’s cycling meant that hill-climbing legs were no match for the mountains. Mark and I could only look on in awe as he ran up the 25% inclines. While GPSs are not allowed for navigation, we did have RunKeeper tracking our progress. Over the 6 hours we covered 28km. Surprisingly, we were moving for only 5 of the 6 hours. We had two small breaks for food, but each time we paused to check the map really added up.

Route showing the elevation profile

The counter point to saying we spent too much time looking at the map was control 63. As you can see on the map, we were walking along a fence – in this case a one meter high drystone wall. The expectation was that the control would be on the fence-line at some point, however, we arrived at the left-turn in the fence near control 71 and realised we had missed it. No turning back, as there was no way any of us wanted to re-climb the 25% incline again!

The course map marked up with the controls we visited

In hindsight, we should have left more time to clean up the controls on the flat. We spent a lot of energy descending from control 90 and then climbing back up the hill to get control 70 at the top of the course, when we could have headed back down towards the flat and cleaned up 80, 33, 30, 23, 37. By the time we had gotten down the hill, Mark and I were struggling to keep the pace up.

Mark and Joel

In a previous event the winning score was around 1200, so the goal was to get over 1000. After we crossed the finish line we expected to come somewhere between 32nd and 17th, so we were very happy with 11th of 99 finishers and a score of 1120 having visited 23 controls. The winners got 1530 of a possible 1670 points, meaning they visited all but one or two of the 35 controls.

The countryside was very nice to look at, with some great views of the plain and the rolling green hills. Despite the sore legs on Monday, and Tuesday, I really enjoyed it and plan to compete in another one.

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