By Hannah, 08 March 2007
The strange attraction of things that are bad for you is well known. Alcohol, cigarettes and a NW special on Britney Spears are always going to triumph over spring water, broccoli and the complete works of Chaucer in French. That is why finding some exercise that is bad for you is quite exciting. Whether it is as addictive as the powers of nicotine, caffeine and trash-teen magazine still needs to be proven, but it’s a PhD subject for some sociopsycheddlegist for sure. So, how bad exactly is it? Let me count the ways.
Hour 1: Anxiety (leading to heart stress and early heart failure). The first hour of the rogaine is preceded by large amounts of anxiety. I wait at the start in the baking sun, badly digesting bananas in my stomach, decomposing bananas in my backpack, and scores of fit looking men and women wearing lycra and the T-shirts from their last nine hundred events (including my team-mate). Everyone starts off at a run, so I feel this is necessary too. I last thirty seconds, but in that time I sweat enough to wash off all my sunscreen and start a salt lake.
Hour 2: Sunburn (leading to early death from skin cancer). The farmland around Ward is so dry that they ban competitors from hot curries the night before as an explosive fart could be enough to set it off. Slipping down the hillside through the white grass I start to feel something like a cheese toastie set to grill.
Hour 3: Dehydration (the three stages are: grape, raisin, death). There is almost no water on the course this year. Although the course notes talk about which streams you can and can’t drink from, all of them have turned into slimy green stains. After three hours we stop by Hash House 2 and gulp water like we have baleen to sieve it with.
Hour 4: Prickles (leading to infection, blood poisoning and death). One thing grows even better on east coast farmland than National voters – matagouri – and there are an infinite number of ways to become intimate with it. We slide down into it. We climb up through it. Sometimes we end up rolling in it like puppies. A lot of the controls that we are hunting are hidden in it. When this happens it seems to stretch its thorns out towards us and crackle evilly.
Hour 5: Sugar (leading to diabetes, dialysis, death). Once the bananas run out the food for the rogaine is special “sports food” that is not suitable for children, pregnant women, dogs, chickens or dolphins. It is so sweet it takes half my mouth down with it. The gooey pastey paste comes in “flavours” like strawberry and vanilla, much in the same way that you can get fruit scented stationery. Much like eating fruit scented stationery, except sweeter.
Hour 6: Headache (an early sign of - a) brain tumour b) exploding brain)). Climbing yet another steep farm hill I realise that I have had a headache for approximately the past six hours. In fact, I can trace its genesis exactly: pre-rogaine – no headache whatsoever; rogaine – stabbing celebral agony. Seductive are the charms of Nurofen - I don’t care if it is associated with tumours in monkeys (not, of course, that it is. Only dolphins.)
Hour 7: Tendon damage (and you don’t get new ones to use when you are old, leading to a fall down steep stairs and etc.). I am trying to avoid too much straight up hills, but that is difficult when my team-mate is running the goats down in her pursuit of more points. Unfortunately, the only way to avoid running up hills is to sidle around them on goat tracks which are just wide enough for half a foot. After a while this takes a toll on the half of the foot that hangs over the edge, and the angry little tendons trying to hold it up. When they get really angry they manage to yell at me over the Nurofen, so I stick the little bastards into some matagouri.
Hour 8: Hair-loss (leading to use of the product Regaine, which is almost as bad for dolphins as Nurofen). Hair-loss is like a rogaine tax that you have to pay on every single bush above head height. There are not many of these on the hill-sides, but in some of the scrubby little guts where the controls are hiding there is more tax than
Hour 9: Skin-loss (leading to bleeding, shock, unconsciousness, death). My skin seems to be disappearing in disturbing amounts. It slips off my knees into the scrub, it peels off my fingers onto the dry grass, and the ten million barbed wire fences grab complete pieces intact as we wriggle through. I don’t know what happens when it all runs out. How long does it take to grow your skin back? Another 15 hours?)
Hour 10: Rage (leading to excessive pressure of the blood, heart attack and or brain explosion). Losing my wallet, keys, shoes, retirement savings and Hulk Hogan bubblegum tattoo have all caused me some colours of annoyance over the past years. Losing the way to our next control is a much more painful and intense loss, but instead of following the proper grieving process I cut straight to rage. Rage at the control, rage at the rogaine, rage at Hulk Hogan for his cruelty to dolphins. Did I make the last one up? I don’t know. We’ve been going for 10 hours and there are still 14 to go. FOURTEEN.
Hours 11, 12, 13 and 14: More dangerous sugar food, followed by indigestion, diahorrea, death. Dealing with my own death at hour 14 is not helped by the fact that it is in the morning. Somehow, despite being dead, I manage to trudge along the moon bathing farmroad that leads back to Hash House 1 where, in some part of the consciousness that is not taken up with sea animals or the warblings of bad moon music, I remember that there is a cosy tent with a soft soft snowfoam in it and maybe even a nice coffin. Which is definitely my coffin. From TB.
Hour 15: Intestinal worms: Somehow they have survived the sports food and now are threatening to devour me. The Hash House gives me some cheese toasties to try and help out. The worms eat three of them and leave nothing for me, which as all well know, leads to hunger, starvation, and then death.
Hour 16: Cows (trampling, squashing, or gouging all work): All you can see of a black cow in the night is the white faces of its friends. There are many long moments, such as you might get in a romantic movie, when we stare at the cows and they stare back at us. At least, this is what we hope is happening, but at any moment a sharp black hoof could come stomping out of the dark.
Hour 17: Sheep (similar methodology to cows, but usually in a mob, so quicker): The moon is very bright, and the sheep look like little white moon creatures. As we come past they thunder off the side of the farm tracks into the matagouri. Except for the ones who are waiting on the cutting overhead ready to thunder down onto our heads…
Hour 18: More sugar (leading to tooth decay, then tooth loss, then slow death by baby food). It is clear to me that none of the other sugar products have increased my strength and vitality, although they have endowed the kind of mania often seen at small children’s parties where coca cola icecream drink is present. The sun comes up during hour 18 and my teammate, who has remained unnamed so that I can tell this story, decides that her suddenly increased metabolic rate requires another poo stop. Except the ground is beaten hard and dry so that it is not possible to, say, bury the poo in a soft layer of mulch. It is possible to hide it. So she does. Under – what could be more obvious – another poo (a cow one). And no one except a Masai looking for house building material will ever find it.
Hour 19: Depression. There are many many ways in which depression can kill you and I start to wish that it would hurry up with it on my way up yet another farm hill. The distant jagged ranges are reflecting the blushing sunrise and all that I can think about is that the night is over, which leads me to…
Hour 20: Sunstroke. And it’s only !
Hour 21: Envy (killed by a green-eyed monster – for some reason I always picture it as a green-all-over monster – with green warts – so really it’s death by Shrek). Three hours from the finish and the eventual winners (by this stage they have run out of controls to find and are just going for a jog to enjoy the scenery) come pounding past. My teammate insists we run until they are out of sight, but by the time she says this they are already a distant blip on the horizon.
Hour 22: Pride. I’m not quite sure how pride kills you, I think it’s in that movie with Brad Pitt where he gets his wife’s head in a box. And I’m not even sure that pride is quite the right word for it. What I want is the word that you get when you are walking towards a control and you see a team ahead of you running backwards and forwards along a ridgeline like crazed ferrets and then collapsing in a dejected pose that is all too familiar. There is also a word for what you feel when they see where you are going and follow you straight to the points but this keyboard doesn’t have enough hieroglyphics on it for that.
Hour 23: Muscle atrophy (usually you need a disease for this fatal condition, but 23 hours of a 24 hour rogaine also works surprisingly well). For some reason even though we are within sight of the woolshed that is Hash House 1 and the finish a compulsion keeps us diving off ridgelines for those controls. Nicotine and caffeine have nothing on it, although I could definitely find a use for them.
Hour 24: Collapse (otherwise known as death by too many things that are bad for you. Followed by Hash House sausages).