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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Department of Scary Critters

Jason Poole, a superb adventure racer and ultrarunner from Colorado, got a nasty surprise at the World Rogaining Championships in New South Wales, Australia, this month. About two and a half hours into the 24-hour race, he was bitten by an Australian brown snake, one of the deadliest snakes on that continent full of deadly critters. Poole and his teammate, Adam Chase, hiked several miles to the road and made it to the hospital, where he was pumped full of meds and saved. Poole was wearing gaiters and apparently only one of the snake's fangs punctured his skin—doctors said that if both fangs had penetrated his ankle, Poole never would have made it out of the bush.

Rogaining, by the way, is a super-fun variant of orienteering. Instead of navigating from point A to B to C, you're given a map with dozens of checkpoints, called controls, scattered everywhere. The controls are worth more points the harder they are to reach. You plan your own route and try to bag as many points as you can within a set time period. (At major events, it's 24 hours and the map covers more than 100 square miles.) A friend and I ran in the last world championships, in eastern Arizona, in 2004, and I wrote a feature story about this amazing experience. (Read it here.) Don't get the wrong idea: I'm definitely no endurance animal. Rogaining is such an obscure sport that anyone can enter the world championships. In fact, although my partner and I had been orienteering for years, this was our very first rogaine. The photos here show my teammate, Dave Goldstein, at the 2004 championships, striding confidently at sunset, and then, the next morning, an utterly destroyed Dave taking a catnap while one of the real competitors (from the Czech Republic) punches a control. At least we didn't see any snakes.


Alan Mansfield said...

Hello Dougald,

I was the organiser of 7WRC. I like your writing particularly enjoyed the 6WRC article. We were very pleased to see Jason Poole survive unscathed, I hope seven months after the event he remains that way. Glad we had professional first aid on site. I believe an article is coming out in Running Tim

Alan Mansfield said...

That should have read Running Times June 2007 Edition.