Monday, 24 October 2011

Adventure rogaining

This weekend was the 9th annual Foot & MTB rogaine, held in the forests of Kaapschehoop. I've raced here two or three times already but while the terrain is somewhat familiar, you've still got to do the distance and find the controls.

With Sarah, pre-start of the 8hr foot rogaine
This year I teamed up with orienteering friend, Sarah Pope. This was Sarah's first 8hr event and she did really well. She's done all the previous rogaines - the 4hr options - and has done one AR of 6hrs - so this was quite a jump to be on her feet for 8hrs. Truth be told, I'm good on my feet for hours; but Sarah is probably a better orienteer than me, despite being 16 years my junior.

New scoring with sectors
The organisers decided to spice things up with a new scoring element where they divided the area into five sectors, each having controls of 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 points. If you clear a sector, you get a bonus 50 points. There were a total of 30 controls. For eight hours and over this area, I would have liked many more controls (finding controls is the fun part, not running 5km between them!).

At Control 1, most northerly control. 50 points.
I also found that once you've decided to go North or South first (as it is with this area), it is then a matter of clock-wise or anti-clockwise and then everyone going for points is on the same course with little opportunity for strategy or route choice. While I'm not against the sector concept, there should be more points in each sector to allow for more choice and decisions about what to get and what to leave. And, if you get a poker-like 'full house' of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 points in that sector, then you get bonus 50. Many of the 10 pointers in normal rogaining would have been allocated a higher points score and strategically I probably wouldn't have gone for some of the ones here - but with the points bonus, if became feasible (and compulsory, really).

Adventure rogaining
We decided to go North and we cleaned up the sectors there. Then, with three hours still remaining, we had to go South. Long distances for not many points, especially as we knew we wouldn't have enough time to clear a sector and it would be way too early to come home. From control 9, in the North, we were hooked up with Debbie and Mark and we all decided on the same plan, time allowing.

The plan was to get 17 and 18, drop into the valley on forestry roads, run on the main dirt road past Battery Creek and with an hour or so still to go to begin the assault on 15 and 14 to clear the sector. If it took us too long to get on to the road to Battery Creek, we could 'escape' up the Barrett's Coaches road and call it a day - not enough time, too much distance.

At Control 18 with Mark and Debbie. The adventure begins!
What happened is the following...

We nailed 17 and 18 without breaking a sweat. Easy peasy.

Leaving 18 we peeked into the 'rough open' area to find the vegetation impenetrable. Pity - would have been fun to drop through this area. We backed out and took a foot path on to a road leading to what looks like a hiking house. We filled up with water and stood on the deck checking out the view.

The first forestry road we took was great - lovely running, soft underfoot and a little overgrown in places. Definitely not often used, if at all. But, road matched the map. Hit a junction, right turn and then first left.

First left started ok and then got overgrown and was then impenetrable. We backed out and looked at options.

Option 1: Maybe the road we were on wasn't on the map and that our turning was a little ahead?
Option 2: Back up to the junction and continue straight BUT an out of bounds area was marked on the map - so not an option.
Option 3: Return, uphill, the way we'd come and head for home.
Option 4: Head down the relatively open spur, hope to hit one of the other forestry roads marked on the map (we suspected they could be overgrown too) and see what happens.

Oh dear, ja, this is what happens when a bunch of adventure racers/orienteers have two hours on their hands.

We took Option 4. The relatively open spur became very overgrown spur and we dropped (actually, crawled would be a better word) right down to the river - the only place we figured would be open. Next followed a dash of kloofing with bouldering, wading across waist-deep pools and sliding down rocks next to small waterfalls. It was spectacular and helluva fun - but not great for optimal rogaine point scoring!

To cut a 1h40 story short, we came to the top of a high waterfall with no easy way down and spotted a fallen over tree on the river-right bank. We used this to scramble up towards the baby trees we could just see (the logic being that if there are baby trees, there should be a road of sorts to access them).

Vaguely aware of where we'd popped out, we headed in the right direction, picked up the Barrett's Coaches road (steep, hot, uphill) and headed straight for the finish, getting in four minutes late.

Only now, looking at Google Earth and my GPS track can I see that my first thought - Option 1, could have paid off. The road we were on wasn't on the map. Nearby, also a re-entrant/valley to the right, also on a spur... Looked the same. I did think the road veering South was a bit odd. Looking at this, it is very odd. Just a wee bit North and we'd have nailed it. So, the roads we thought may longer be there, may still be there - plus part of a road that was never on the map.

Here's what our map looked like for this area...

Perspective. Control 17 and 18 with forestry roads and river
The pink xxxx mark an out-of-bounds area.

Ja, now the problem is crystal clear!
Not quite so fresh as daisies a t the finish after that adventure rogaining - but what fun!
After all the excitement on Saturday, Sarah and I took it easy on the bikes on Sunday - very conservative. We cleared a sector, picked up some other controls and came home with 50 minutes to spare. Very chilled. Very hot out there with >35C temperatures.

Northern side was very bland. New trees planted after last year's fires (or the year before?)

Me munching on corn nuts and control 14 in the tree behind us.

With Craig Ogilvy from ROC - organising club.
We did get the Senior Women's trophy (confession: only senior women's pair). We were
beaten (520 pts to 600pts) by the Vets Women's Pair of Vicky and Cindy. Well done girls!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You did correctly - as an AR by following the stream. I've learnt that higher areas are more open and also easier to read land shapes from. Perhaps I would have tried to find the second gulley (for a more definite location) to the North, then turn off left on a compass bearing (North West) to intersect the roads shown near the edge of the dark green, if at all possible.