The problem when you are married to a hiking guide is you find yourself passing over all responsibility for where you may happen to be in the wilderness. That is all fine and dandy until you suggest to your girlfriends that you should head for the hills and the role of team leader ends up falling on one's shoulders because you co-own a hiking company so surely you’ll have amazing navigation skills?
The days of spending every second weekend on some whacky mission in the hills are unfortunately a few years ago now, sometime before the responsibilities associated with having children and a business came along. So I fear I have got a little bit rusty on the ‘nav’ side of things … what was that saying about “red in the shed”?
Rogaining is the perfect answer to re-honing those navigational skills. For those of you who don’t know what a rogaine is, it is basically a race for teams of two to five to run (or walk) between checkpoints trying to gather the most points in the time allowed. Route planning is key as time penalties are applied if you run overtime. Each team plans their own route, choosing a course that matches their team's strengths. You can read more about rogaining here.
It is fantastic fun for all, families, couples, or groups of friends as you have to work together first planning a route that is achievable and then heading out onto the course and actually finding the checkpoints. You don’t have to be an elite athlete but you need to be able to work as a team and enjoy the outdoors.
The #midweekmission girls decided it was time for us to do a little weekend mission. My husband (the hiking guide) saw the event near Geraldine as the perfect opportunity to expose our kids to the sport, Liam (9 years) and Eva (8 years). They signed up for the three hour event and Michelle (fellow Hiking NZ buddy), Claire, Kate and I signed up for the six hour event.
We had all done rogaines in the past and know our strength is in running rather than steep climbs. Our chosen route therefore pretty much circumnavigated the course map. My kids looked to have a rather ambitious route mapped out for them from their Dad, but hey that was their gig and Mum needed to butt out.
With fruit cake under our belts we headed off at a blistering pace when the whistle blew. Well, blistering pace in the sense that we had to keep it up for another 5 hours and 59 minutes.
The first few checkpoints were easily ticked off and within 20 minutes we were away from other teams. Our system worked well, with two of us planning the next checkpoint, one on clicking our scorecard and another on clues. The weather could not have been more ideal and the scenery stunning.
The rogaine was hosted on Orari George Station, an iconic South Island high country farm set in the rugged foothills of the Southern Alps.
The day progressed with loads of giggles, a few steep hill climbs and guilt-free consumption of sweet treats! The odd checkpoint tried to elude us but by the end of the day there was only one that remained a mystery to us.
We had taken a few bearings with the compass when we planned our route and made a point of using them when we were out on the course - just for the practise. They were all accurate and we patted ourselves on our backs. We couldn’t quite congratulate ourselves for losing one compass and dropping our scoresheet.
We ran (walked) across the finish line with 20 minutes to spare. We were tempted to make a run for ‘just one more’ but it had been a great day and one needs to know when it is time to put the map away and head for the community hall to enjoy the lovely meal put on by the local Parent Teacher Association.
When the results came out we had come at fifth place, which we were happy enough about. Certainly gives us reason to come back again next year as third place got a sack of spuds for a prize!
As for the children’s enjoyment …. that will come with time. Dad hadn’t quite accounted for the strong-willed daughter and her ability to sit down at the top of a hill and refuse to continue. She is a strong walker but if the energy levels (sweet treats) go down she starts to lose faith in Dad’s “we’re almost there, I know a short cut” line and things tend to go pear shaped from that point on.
Add to the mix a competitive son who loves to run and cannot comprehend why his father and sister are not looking at the watch with the same sense of urgency as himself and things are bound to finish badly. Alas, the kids were all smiles by the time they got to the hall – pity they were an hour late, missed their meal and were disqualified.