WRC2016 final thoughts
World Rogaine Champs 2016 final thoughts "One week on and I'm still pulling out spinifex splinters from my knees. BUT, I'm still smiling and telling everyone within earshot what an awesome event the WRC2016 was."
God must have been part of the organising team, as the weather was picture perfect - not too hot, not too cold; just right. All the merino layers, gloves and beanie I had ready to go were thankfully left behind in my tent, along with my rain jacket. I even left behind the extra one litre water bottle, correctly guessing that four litres (three litres of water and one of staminade) were going to be sufficient until the early hours of the morning.
The East MacDonnell Ranges certainly put on a show for us all. I hope everyone managed to appreciate the vibrant colours of the wild flowers and land, and hear the abundant bird life. (We saw a herd of brumbies, but no euros or wallabies, camels or dingoes - though I did hear one group were followed by a dingo). I also hope the army of volunteers managed to take some time out to appreciate the beauty surrounding the Hash House.
What did you think of the course? We were both excited and nervous as we planned our route. Some of that countryside certainly looked (and was) challenging, but we determinedly decided to go through the heart of what we considered the most difficult area to gain the bigger points. Our night route was far more conservative as we planned to use tracks as our handrail. I can only image what the truly competitive teams were thinking as they were calculating how far they might travel in the difficult and unfamiliar terrain.
A huge THANK YOU must go to David Baldwin and Julie Quinn for the superb setting, and Richard Robinson and team for their vetting, checking and organising. It was certainly a huge, complex area to set and vet in, and as a competitor, it was very comforting to know that every checkpoint had been visited a minimum of four times prior to the event. The check points were all where they were supposed to be (although that nasty number 32 eluded us in the darkness and the spinifex there punished us for being wrong) and were expertly placed.
The whole event appeared to operate without a hitch - from the expansive camping area (I thought we'd be much more tightly packed), to the ablution block that coped with the enormous number of people, to the practice course that was a fantastic taste of what was to come, and the smooth-running shuttle buses. The welcome 'taste Australia' was fun (loved those lamingtons, even if the Kiwis claimed them as their own) and lots of photos were taken with the inflatable kangaroo. The opening ceremony was extremely well attended and the local Aboriginal 'dream-time' dance was fascinating.
Admin was sheer bliss - a very well-oiled machine, thanks to Michele and her huge team of volunteers. And there are not enough superlatives to describe the ever-smiling Steve and his masterful group of Hash House workers who fed 850 people with copious amounts of good, hot, nourishing food. You're welcome to cook at my house any time, Steve! The welcome cup of tea or coffee at the water drops and All Night Café were also extremely welcome by weary, sore-footed travellers. Thanks to all volunteers - you were awesome!!!
Congratulations must go to all the podium winners in each category - I am envious of the beautiful trophies you won (and the fitness, stamina and superb navigating skills you must have). I stand amazed at the overall winners, Chris Forne and Greig Hamilton from New Zealand - how you managed to score 4400 points, I'll never know! And Australia's own Kathryn and Rob Preston with 3,880 points blitzing the Mixed and beating all the other Men's teams.
It was wonderful to see so many international visitors make it to the land 'downunder'. Thank you for considering the WRC2016 worthwhile enough to invest a large amount of your money and time to come all this way to compete. We enjoyed meeting you and competing against you.
We wish Latvia the best of luck as they prepare to host the next World Rogaining Championship in 2017. We look forward to a totally different experience - one unique to their country and location.
Until next time,
Jo, the editor