Monday, November 1, 2010

Rogaine - A treasure hunt for adults

A Rogaine is almost like a treasure hunt: You get a map with lots of points marked on it. Some points score more than others, depending on how difficult it is to get to them. You and a team mate collect as many points as you can within an allocated time.

It's not necessarily the fastest team that wins - you need some mapreading skills, there's some strategic planning as to which controls to visit and which to skip, and you have to know your and your teammate's abilities - there's huge penalties for being even a second late.

The Capestorm Rogaine is an annual highlight n the Orienteering Calendar, always around end October. It returned to Kaapsehoop this year after 2 years in Lakenvlei. And what an awesome area for this!

The Foot Rogaine on Saturday offered a 4 and 8 hour event, while racers could choose between a 2- or a 5-hour event for the MTB on Sunday.

Barrets' Coaches (2 sleeper train coaches that serves as hiking huts about 1 km from the start) was very much the place to be during the last rogaine that was in that area. I remembered the war stories from the day's hike around the campfire on the Saturday night, so I booked a spot there.

Dawn & I left Gauteng early-ish on Friday afternoon, registered, had some food in the only open pub in Kaapsehoop, and arrived at a very lonely campsite around 8 on Friday night. Soon afterwards 2 other rogainers arrived (they camped next to us before and after the Mankele adventure race earlier the year) and a few hours later all 6 memberes of team Lickety Split arrived. Suddenly the train trucks were noisy and full and comfortable.

8 hour foot-rogaine Saturday 30/10
7:52
around 34 kays
just less than 1000m vertical ascent

It was a mass-start: everybody received their maps at the same time. We discussed some route options, and when we looked up, it was Dawn & myself, and 2 organisers left at the start: everybody else had left. We had ambitious plans about getting the furthest controls - we would pick up the lower-scoring controls on the way back. There were a few good navigational calls, we searched a while for a control in a ditch, and one valley wasn't exactly where we searched for it - but generally we were satisfied with how the run went. Downhills and level we jogged (if it was in the shade); uphills and level-ground that was not in the shade, we walked as fast as we could. Saw lots of familiar faces out there :D

We carried lots of food for a panned picnic about halfway, but we totally overestimated our ability - by the time we reached the furthest control, we knew we were sot-of in trouble. We had about 10 kays to go (straight home) with less than 2 hours. It may sound like plenty of time, but our feet felt the effects of 6 hours of running/hiking on terrain that was very seldom anything but granny-gear-up or brake-slamming down. The body was willing, but the feet not that much. On the way back we still saw some teams coming out to collect controls! Adri/Con and Sue/Landie certainly looked like they'd still be able to run a 10k in 1 hour back.

The last 7 kays was very hard; it was mostly downhill, but the feet were complaining loudly and the clock was ticking. I fantasized about just sitting for 10 minutes at the finish, not having to worry about a clock and not having any weight on my feet. About 200m from the finish we ran a bit of as detour while looking for shortcuts back, but we made it with 8 minutes to spare. It would have been enough to collect control 17! ("no, we couldn't", my feet chirped in.). 'Twas still enough points to get us overall second ladies' team in, but only because Sue/Landie had to pay a hefty penalty for being an hour late (after collecting almost all the controls out there)

I would like to report a very noisy outrageous party around the campfire that night - but alas, by 8:30 not a mouse was squeaking in the train compartments - and if they were, no-one would have heard them.

5-hour MTB rogaine Sunday 31/10
4:42 (of which only 3:48 actual cycling)
46 kays
just over 1000m vertical ascent

I don't think mountain biking gets better than doing a rogaine :D You decide how long you want to be out, what you want to ride, and how fast.

Having seen the terrain down south during the foot-rogaine the previous day, we decided to rather go check out what the terrain north looks like. It was a mass start again - this time we weren't the last team to leave, but when everyone continued straight, we turned off to the right, found ourselves on totally the wrong road, and climbed a monster-hill to get back to the original track. We should have, like the previous day, went for the furthest controls first ... could have, would have, should have.

Anyway - so this time we DID get those darn furthest controls. on the way back had to give up some high-scoring controls to fetch even higher-scoring controls. The nave went very well; there were one or two good calls. It felt especially good to find controls while other teams were milling around the area searching for them or frowning over their maps :)

Saw a lot of familiar faces out there, what a lovely area to ride in. With about half an hour to go it was getting dark (storm clouds, not sun going down) and we decided to skip the last 2 controls and rather go straight home. It was a downhill, and we were home 18 minutes early and with enough points to get us first vets girls team - there was a bit of pressure to do that, since i forgot the trophy of last year at home ...

can't wait till next year!

Footnotes

  • ROC (Rand Orienteering Club) organises this every year. It's around end October - keep an eye on their website, and a space in your diary.
  • Would have loved to swap the format: an 8-hour cycle and a 5-hour foot. The problem is most likely the time mapping and putting out controls on an area big enough to keep the fast people out there for 8 hours on a bike.
  • I should spend more time on my feet if i'm gonna do an 8-hours foot rogaine again. Was possibly a good idea to go for the furthest points first - because we would have finished early on the foot-event if we could.
  • The orienteering/adventure/rogaine crowd are a very friendly bunch.Great to spend a weekend with them, and compare notes afterwards - and hear stories about other events.
  • I was very impressed with our map-reading abilities this time around - that's, until i compared the time out there with time that the wheels actually were turning. Turned out we cycled for only 3:48 of the 4:42 that we were out there. that's a ratio of 1 minute of reading maps for every 4 minutes of cycling. Some work to do re speed-reading maps!
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