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Discussion: Lucky or unlucky? You decide!

in: Orienteering; General

Oct 17, 2006 9:18 PM # 
I just got off the phone from talking with Jason Poole, who was bitten by an Australian Brown Snake about 2 1/2 hours after the start of the recent World Rogaining Championships. He and his partner walked back about 5-6 kms to the Hash House, where he was evacuated by ambulance to the nearest hospital, which was about 30 kilometers away. From there he was taken by ambulance to a larger hospital some 200 kilometers or so away.

It was confirmed there that he had been bitten by the Australian Brown snake, which is considered an extremely dangerous snake, with venom about 12 times more toxic than that of an Indian cobra. Jason never saw the snake itself, and wasn't even 100% he had been bitten when it happened, because the only sign anything had happened was a small, single puncture wound on his ankle, and because he didn't feel that bad right away. He described the bite itself as initially having the sensation that someone had thumped him with a finger.

Jason ultimately received 4 vials of antivenom, and now enjoys special status as the first (and, so far, only) person to have received a venomous snake bite in an Australian rogaine. This of course also makes him the first rogainer to have survived the bite of a deadly Australian snake.

He was told by several medical personnel that "you're a very lucky man to be alive."
Oct 17, 2006 9:43 PM # 
you gotta fear a snake with a scientific name like

glad to hear everything worked out ok
Oct 17, 2006 10:03 PM # 
5-6km by foot - about 1hr
30km to nearest hospital - about 1/2 hour
200km to the next hospital - about 2 1/2 to 3 hours

I am estimating that it must have been at least 4 hrs before Jason got antivenin?

Tell Jason to get lottery ticket while he is on his lucky streak
Oct 17, 2006 10:18 PM # 
Makes me appreciate Whitehorse where the only thing you need to worry about -- well you will see it or hear it coming. And you will definately know if you have been 'bit'.
Oct 17, 2006 10:33 PM # 
a brown snake envenomation embiggens even a cromulent man.
Oct 18, 2006 12:13 AM # 
Brown snakes are one of the more aggressive Australian snakes. They are the most common species in the Victorian orienteering golden triangle. This year the region has probably had 5000 participations in courses. As far as I know, there have been no serious bites. Running in winter and running with long pants both help to reduce the risk. Our household has had one experience with the snake wrapping around the legs and biting, but loose orienteering pants meant it only managed to scrape the flesh and just break the skin. The snake hibernates in winter and emerges when the weather hots up. Its then it is both hungry and most aggressive. Summer came early this year. So the snake was out early. And warm weather encourages short pants.
Be cautious running in summer. Wear long pants and gaiters. Be extra cautious running on bush paths as it chooses open paths to sun. The bush is actually safer.
Previous jokes aside, ther eis no risk from snakes during July when JWOC is in Australia.
Oct 18, 2006 12:31 AM # 
i'll back up what pensioner says - there are so many funnel web spiders in dubbo during july that the snakes are well fed and have absolutely no desire to eat humans.
Oct 18, 2006 3:26 AM # 
Seems quite unlucky and lucky at the same time!

In speaking with an EMT/Nurse and my flight doc, they both comment that vast majority of snake bites they see are on the hands and arms... people putting their hands in holes or on objects without looking first. So to add to Pensioner's great pointers, I'd say watch out where you put your hands too!

Oct 18, 2006 3:28 AM # 
I am sure this whole conversation is highly motivating our juniors to go to JWOC next year ;-)
Mind you I've heard of poisonous snake bites at O'Ringen - you gotta be particularly goofy to find a snake in Sweden!
Oct 18, 2006 7:05 AM # 
Re JWOC, its the drop bears I'd be worried about.
Oct 18, 2006 9:36 AM # 
drop bears?

Is this where people drop bears on passing runners *grin* - seriously though, what are drop bears?
Oct 18, 2006 9:56 AM # 
Not really bears, but sexually aroused koalas. They sit in trees and make horrible mating calls that sound like someone is strangling a child. This gets them so aroused they lose concentration and grip, and fall out of the tree. It doesn't do to be standing underneath....
Oct 18, 2006 12:53 PM # 
yup. gotta watch those drop bears :)
Oct 18, 2006 2:08 PM # 
Thank god for google. And to think I was about to bale on the Canadian JWOC Team.

A drop bear (or dropbear) is a fictitious Australian marsupial supposedly related to the koala.

Drop bears are commonly said to be unusually large, vicious, carnivorous koalas that inhabit treetops and attack their prey by dropping onto their heads from above. They are an example of local lore intended to frighten and confuse outsiders, and amuse locals, similar to the jackalope, hoop snake or haggis hunting.

Some suggest that the drop bear myth is designed to discourage children from straying needlessly below eucalyptus trees, protecting them from the very real danger of getting hit by a falling branch. Arbitrary detachment of old branches is common with certain species of the eucalyptus, which are known as 'widow-makers' for this very reason.

The drop bear myth appears to have first appeared during the latter half of the 20th century, and may have its origins with Phascolarctos stirtoni, the carnivorous Phascolarctos involus or perhaps Thylacoleo carnifex, which belong to a group of extinct animals known as Australian megafauna. The prehistoric creatures were approximately twice the size of modern koalas. Thylacoleo is thought to have been an arboreal predator that may well have ambushed prey by dropping on it from overhead branches.

Stories of drop bears are often told to unsuspecting foreign visitors to illustrate Australian deadpan humour. It is suggested that doing ridiculous things like having forks in the hair or Vegemite or toothpaste spread behind the ears will deter the creatures. Such precautions are lent credibility by the fact that Australian Magpies can be deterred from attacking by wearing sunglasses on the back of the head.
Oct 18, 2006 3:25 PM # 
They are an example of local lore intended to frighten and confuse outsiders, and amuse locals, similar to the jackalope, hoop snake or haggis hunting.

or attack badgers.
Oct 18, 2006 3:49 PM # 
Why drop bears drop. Follow link and choose drop bear movie …
Oct 18, 2006 5:01 PM # 
It's unusual to see snakes when u r out running, even worse to be bitten. That guy is very lucky the snake did not bite an area with more blood flow, like the calf muscle. Only ever come close to a snake once, not poisonous though. Sometimes you here them moving through the grass though.
Oct 18, 2006 5:21 PM # 
JWOC is going to be just great..
Oct 18, 2006 5:40 PM # 
Texas has its share of venomous snakes -- rattlers, copperheads, water moccasins, etc. -- but I've never seen one orienteering or even hiking. (Saw a snake while canoeing once, saw some tarantulas while hiking.) It's surprising, actually, considering the areas we get into. Fortunately, none of them is as dangerous as what the Australians encounter. Best wishes to Jason for a speedy recovery.
Oct 18, 2006 5:53 PM # 
Came across a King Brown Snake while racing in Eco '97 (Queensland). It was so dormant on the rocks (in the creek valley) that I thought it was dead. Touched it with a trekking pole (gently), only to make it move and stress out my teammates who now had to cross over it. Anyway, I knew it was a King Brown as the "Croc Hunter" had presented to us all the snakes at the beginning of the race and stressed how important it was to identify them (for antivenom if bitten).

Now don't get me started about all the bloody spiders in the swamp/river...
Oct 18, 2006 6:49 PM # 
Lisa, I think you need to be Australian to attract venomous snakes in Texas - "feet" and I have both seen /jumped over snakes in Houston. But the snakes here are pathetic. I mean, really - a poisonous snake with fangs too small to get a grip on you, and one that rattles its tail to tell you where it is? Where's the fun in that?
Oct 18, 2006 7:15 PM # 
Yeah, but Texas has Texans. There woudln't be many of them left if they had to contend with sneaky snakes.
Oct 18, 2006 7:15 PM # 
(2 days!!)
Oct 18, 2006 8:24 PM # 
Few years ago while living in Indianapolis I went for a swim in the lake I was living next to. It was not the first time I was swimming in the lake. While enjoying myself I got feeling that somebody is watching me. I looked around and I saw snake swimming few yards from me. I was out of the water in no time. I am not snake expert and I have no idea what kind of snake it was (probably just a garden snake). Needless to say – I never swam in that lake again.
Oct 18, 2006 10:12 PM # 
At least we convinced someone to check the drop bear story. Google can spoil the fun sometimes. But I was serious about the koala mating call. It really does sound like child strangling. To reiterate... nothing aggressive or venomous will be awake during JWOC. It will be too cold (by Oz standards).
Oct 18, 2006 10:22 PM # 
"...It will be too cold..." - than be aware of frozen koalas...
Oct 18, 2006 11:00 PM # 
Everyone knows Marmite behind the ears is far more effective. The best part of that Wikipdeia story was the refernce to 'Australian deadpan humour' - I mean - who would have thought?
But I must ask - is no one elsse concerned about bringing their juniors to such a place where the locals seem to know so much about what children being strangled sounds like?
Oct 18, 2006 11:08 PM # 
As I hinted at in an earier post - this from today's paper. "Yukon College" is where I'm doing a little "O" workshop on Friday!

Interesting story -- but in almost 18 years here I think I have seen a grand total of 2 bears.

(from the Whitehorse Star)

Injured grizzly bear killed last Sunday

By Chuck Tobin

The wounded grizzly bear that eluded conservation officers after it was shot initially was killed last Sunday night, conservation officer Kris Gustafson said today.
Gustafson said in an interview that conservation officers received a report late last week from a resident who witnessed the bear crossing the road near the Whitehorse landfill.
Officers investigated and confirmed the presence of the same large bear tracks that were found Sept. 29. A bear had been shot early one morning while rummaging through garbage cans behind Yukon College.
Gustafson said officers placed a baited, elevated bear snare in an area around the dump and baited additional areas.
The bear was shot at 10:15 pm. while moving in on a bait site, Gustafson explained.
After the bear was originally shot, and wounded, the Department of Environment asked area residents to stay away from walking trails for a time.
The ban was lifted a week later, after no further sign of the animal could be found, despite regular patrols by conservation officers.
Communications spokesman Dennis Senger said today news of the dead bear was not released until final approval of the announcement was received this morning.
Gustafson said the bear, judging by the wear on its teeth, was likely in its late teens or early 20s, but was significantly undernourished.
“There was no fat on him,” Gustafson said. “And bears should be fat, especially now.”
The actual age, he said, will be confirmed once lab tests on the bear’s teeth are completed.
With a distinguishable seven-inch (18-cm) paw, the bear was substantial in size and frame, but weighed 440 pounds instead of the 600-plus it should have under normal conditons, Gustafson said.
The bear was shot initially through the shoulder area, but would likely have survived the wound under ordinary circumstances as the bullet passed right through him.
Even without the wound, however, it’s quite likely the bear would not have survived the winter, he said.
Gustafson said officers did find one location in the electric fencing around the dump where the bear gained entry.
Oct 19, 2006 2:12 AM # 
Arbitrary detachment of old branches is common with certain species of the eucalyptus, which are known as 'widow-makers' for this very reason.

I'd be checking out what species of eucalypts grow in the JWOC terrain. If you get lost, make sure you find a clearing before you stop to relocate.
Oct 19, 2006 2:57 AM # 
>But I must ask - is no one elsse concerned about bringing >their juniors to such a place where the locals seem to >know so much about what children being strangled sounds >like?
Australians are renowned world travellers, so many have picked up their knowledge of these sounds in trips to places like the US mid-west... or texas.
Oct 19, 2006 3:21 AM # 
I used to believe in drop bears. They lived in Lorne where we camped. Now the 'drop rapist' in Tin Alley is a bigger deterrent.
Oct 19, 2006 5:05 AM # 
Watch for them goats at JWOC. Shep and i i must seen 500+. They are aggressive buggers too, with small but razor horns to tear a nice hole in your arse/leg.
I saw a snake at the Rogaine, only a red-bellied black, but a little shock all the same when you see it mid stride and need to get a little extra length mid-air to go over it.
The ambo's where pretty astounded when the 'vicitm' came back and said he hadn't treated it at all, a very lucky man. He does have a ver cool story to tell though, the Eastern Brown (which he was bitten by as opposed to King Brown) is heralded at the second deadliest snake in the world, behind the taipan, another aussie :)
Oct 19, 2006 10:06 AM # 
Now we got nowt 'ere in Yorkshire that be venomous or dangerous. Apart from the Shoe Eating Peat Eel that lives oop on Ilkley Moor and sucks your shoes off as you disappear up to your waist in thick brown gloop.
It's reet bloody dangerous.

There are times I am glad I live somewhere where the weather is not condusive to supporting the sorts of nasties described above.
Oct 19, 2006 2:43 PM # 
I got to know an Aussi named John Porter when he visited the 1000 days a few years ago (and then the US Champs in Telemark). I mentioned to him that during the TV coverage of the Sydney Olympics over 120% of the air time was spent discussing how all the Triathletes would be eaten by sharks, and Australia had 11 of the 10 deadliest spiders and 12 of the worlds 10 most deadliest snakes. So I asked him how they could possibly orienteer. He said that when training youngsters to run in the forest they are told to always step on the fallen logs and then jump away, ie, it's what's on the side of the log you can't see that will get you. So that's the secret. Step on the log and jump away. Works for sharks too.
Oct 19, 2006 3:12 PM # 
I am not expert regarding snakes therefore my question – has there ever been case when someone has been bitten by any kind of snake while running with - let’s say - 7 minute per mile pace?
Oct 19, 2006 3:34 PM # 
If my rough conversion of 7 minute/mile is correct, then the answer is yes. O'Ringen 1996.
Oct 19, 2006 3:40 PM # 
Rough conversion? What, the rest of the world doesn't think in min/mi? Even in our neighborly lands? Unbelievable. I though we always did everything the best way.

So who was bit at O-Ringen? And did they even stop? Sweden isn't exactly known for its dangerous snakes...
Oct 19, 2006 5:17 PM # 
I heard that "map-attacks" were a much vore serious threat at O-Ringen, but they primarily occur near control locations. So if you stay away from control locations, you should avoid the most persistent map-attackers.
Oct 19, 2006 5:32 PM # 
There is about one bite per year in all of Sweden. In 1996, Barbie was the bitee.
Oct 19, 2006 5:54 PM # 
Ok, Barbie. How did it happen? Did you really get bitten by snake in middle of running stride?

I was theorizing that if you run fast enough snakes do not have enough time to react to you and 7 Min/mi speed is my average speed in woods these days (except when I am put in the same heat with John F twice in Sprint Series Finals)
Oct 19, 2006 6:22 PM # 
I was running donwhill, and I can fly downhill (uphill is another story).
I actually got bitten on the hand - put my hand down to jump down a little cliff. The bugger got me on the hand. I actually didn't have time to see it, thought maybe I had gotten stung by a wasp. Kept running but soon all of my fingers were looking like Bavarian sausages and then my arm started swelling up. A quick glance at my map revealed that the aid station was not any closer than the finish, and heck, I was having a good race, so I finished the race.
When I crossed the finish line I looked a bit weird, with a huge arm and a skinny one (did I mention my years of shot put competition?).
Anyway, the army was doing the medical. THey looked at my hand and saw the 2 marks and started me on IV right away. THe rest is a bit blurry...
Oct 19, 2006 8:28 PM # 
Cristina >> (2 days!!)

Here she is sneaking in her private countdown in the middle of a serious discussion... (but not a word in her training log...)
Oct 19, 2006 8:34 PM # 
Don't worry about Cristina. Leaving Texas? She's likely verklempt, that's all.
Oct 19, 2006 10:29 PM # 
Had to throw the shot put comment around again, eh, Barbie. You know, there are some strong, skinny women out there. So, it isn't impossible to imagine you in the circle.
Oct 19, 2006 11:25 PM # 
Is it my mustache that gives it away?
Oct 19, 2006 11:57 PM # 
Yeah, keep bleaching, Barbie, and we'll never notice.
Oct 20, 2006 12:40 AM # 
Not to try to make snakes sound cuddly, but many venomous snakes will bite without using venom.

It takes a lot of energy to produce venom, and snakes would rather save it for hunting than spend it in self defense.

I've seen various sources estimating the ratio of non-venomous bites to be between 1/5 and 1/3.

Yet another dimension of "luck" that should be considered...
May 20, 2023 1:56 PM # 
It now appears that not only did drop bears exist, but a tree climbing crocodile could also ambush you from a tree.
May 21, 2023 9:42 AM # 
I know this is an old thread (before even I started on AP) but the one thing you don't want to be doing after being bitten by a snake is to walk 5-6km to the hash house site. STAY IMMOBILE and you will live (in the *extremely* unlikely event that you are bitten by a snake in Australia; you've got a much greater chance of being shot at a school in America, even if you don't ever visit there).
May 21, 2023 9:45 AM # 
As far as I know, there have only been three snakebites in competition (none of them involving serious injury) in the whole history of Australian orienteering. (There have been others, at least one of which was quite significant, in rogaining).
May 22, 2023 10:36 AM # 
rogaining should be banned in Australia..... oh wait ignore that i might get in trouble
May 22, 2023 2:59 PM # 
I see some AP'ers in the prehistoric days of 2006 had an anti-snake bias, and spread stereotypes about koala bears
May 25, 2023 7:58 PM # 
tRicky, from what I recall (Jason is a local RMOC club member), he wasn't 100% sure he had been bitten by a snake; it was on his bony ankle area and there was only one puncture mark, but he was feeling light-headed.
Jun 9, 2023 10:05 AM # 
I have a vague memory (? 1980 or 1981) of a junior girl being bitten by a snake in competition in Australia and finishing the course before discovering the bite. I suspect the bite was not envenomated.
Jun 9, 2023 10:48 AM # 
If you're thinking of the one I'm thinking of, that's one of the three.
Jun 9, 2023 11:56 AM # 
I think I am probably thinking of the one you're thinking of, at least I think so :)

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