Team Stories – Mental Approach

April 19, 2006

Team Mental Approach (R.Hughes, S.Pottie)
3450 points
13/27 teams in PC-24

Steve Pottie and I teamed up for this E2C, although we’d not raced (to use the term loosely) before, we had a good time together. Sitting around the dining table the night before in front of a brobdingnagian bowl of pasta was a good start…..

Race day dawned damp, as they are ever wont to do. But at least it wasn’t really raining. Yet. Just a Scotch mist. We could handle that.

I want the map… the map….. I need to see the map, the map the map!! Give us the map!! I’ll sign anything….An hour or so gazing at it over a bowl of porridge suggested that (as usual) there was far too much territory to cover, far too many controls out there and no way to get to half of them. On the other hand, the course appeared relatively easy to plan for. There were more controls worth aiming at in the south (we thought), so we headed that way first. The main obstacle was avoiding back tracking due to “uncrossable” sections, and an absence of good E-W linking roads. We decided on a clockwise route from the start, heading SE.

Conditions were perfect at the start, overcast with thick mist and light drizzle, temp about 8C. Nice day for a hike. Off we went with the general charge. Let those guys run. Whatever.

First on the list was the hilltop at 138, in and out, like the well-oiled team that we were. Down the hill, and on towards 127. Still people around, but already thinning out. In and out to 127. No worries. Then south to 175. First of many lake/stream junctions. In and out. Found a nice trail to help at the end. This was OK!

Then across to 163. Steep and tough going to get in to this one. Several false bays, too. More slow stuff getting out. It became apparent that steep terrain as indicated by the contours on this map meant trouble on this granite, as it meant a jumble of huge boulders which was hard to traverse. And now it was raining properly. On south to 223.

Some forks in the trail…but we reached 223 OK, however there was no sign of the stream shown on the map! Weird. Found later that streams in this terrain were sometimes underground in the bouldery terrain. On towards the power line. A bit wet. Along the power line towards 222. Mossy and boggy. Cut south to get 221 first. Something funny here. Hmm, another underground stream? We continued….but no lake. So. Cut east….there it was. We were evidently too far SW when we started in. Raining hard, cold and hungry, but wanted to get this control first. Found a deer track to help us in, shoving along through wiry undergrowth. Ate standing up in the rain. Lovely! Back out and punched 222. Then we were gambling on getting through somehow to 235 and 262, the route was not clear and there was a risk of being stranded in bog country at dark. But! Ha! Crossing the first lake section was no problem – there was a little bridge. The second part…we went down to look at the water. Deep, black, cold, bottomless, boggy and impossible. We could see the flag for 235 just across the water. Headed south a bit, as the channel appeared to pinch in here and there. Yes, it did. Found a narrow section and waded across. We were over. Onward to victory…..punched 235, then down more boggy power line to 262. As we hauled in here, we found a group of decidely dejected-looking rogainers standing around a smoky fire….we punched in and continued on without stopping.

We went NE and cut across country to hit 233. Pace counted up, cut in. Found the stream, headed NW, but we were too far NW when we went in, so we had to backtrack the other way, found the control OK despite the darkness, rain and fog. Decided to eat more. While there another team came in, two girls who were “doing this for the first time”…they seemed to be doing well. We hacked out to the track and continued, passing the girls after a while. We both took a wrong turn in the fog on a dead end track on the way towards 200. Lack of focus, or just not being able to see more than 10 feet? Who can tell. We called after the girls that this was a mistake! The yells bounced around between the rocks and the fog…then silence. Oh well. Back to the right track and on to 200. Some fiddling about to get the right junction, right side etc. Then in to 201. Careful slow navigating due to thick bush, and still fog and heavy darkness. Found it OK and got back out on the track. Up the trail, then cut in to 125. Continued across to the trail on the other side, then SE, up the hill to 126. No problem. Punched 121 on the way back to the hash house. Who put the event centre on top of that hill, for cripes’ sake?

Rolled into the HH about 0130. Not many people about. Gear tent empty. Changed, heated up soup, drinks, recovery. Next thing I know, Steve has his feet up and is reclining. Hey, that looks OK…..I could try that too for a few minutes. Not much chance of dozing off, lying on these rocks. Suddenly, it was about 3 o’ clock. Aha! Off to 131. Some clear cut…some wiry brush…then the control. Off northward into a hellish bushwhack. The hillside was steeper than the map suggested, a huge rubble of mossy boulders, very slow to traverse, and the other sections featured low, fighting vegetation in hummocks, covered with steel-filled spring-loaded twigs and interspersed with man-swallowing holes. Progress was crazy slow. The track we were aiming for seemed never to be coming. Had to question several times what was going on? But there was no way we could have gone wrong, and no way to miss that major track. FINALLY it emerged. Now it was light. We were very close to 129, so punched that. On northwestwards up a perfect road to 219. Easy. On, to 226. The trail in here was nasty, covered with slash and soft. Slow. Could Bowater please clean up those trails for next time? I mean, really! We like a better type of trail than that. In to the control….no stream to be seen, but found the control OK. Could we get 241? Maybe, maybe not. We decided to skip it, and rolled on back to the finish, scraping up 122 en route. Now the sun was coming out! And blackflies! As we hauled ourselves up the hill to the finish, with nearly an hour to spare, the sun was hot. We were done.

Route summary: 138-127-175-163-223-221-222-235-262-233-200-201-125-126-121-HH-131-129-2 19-226-122-finish.