Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Looking at my rogaining route

This past Saturday was the annual rogaining event presented by Rand Orienteering Club. As I know the area, and had put out a couple of controls the day before, I opted again to run on my own as a non-competitive entrant.

The race rules this year were as follows:
The checkpoints (controls) were numbered and offered a selection of odd and even numbered locations. Participants had to start with either odds or evens.

You could swap from one to the other at any point within the limited event duration (3 hours or 6 hours) BUT one you swapped you could not swap again.

The idea would be to spend half - or more - of your time collecting say evens and then to swap halfway and begin collecting odds.

I added my own rules too.

  1. I had to aim to go to places on the property where I'd never been before (which was many of the control locations)
  2. Far controls that I would normally exclude, I had to get. If I looked at a control and thought, "I really don't feel like going there", I had to.
I had a really, really good day.

At prize giving, when I heard Nicholas Mulder and Kelvin Trautman's point score, I felt wholly inadequate. Nonetheless, I had a good day.

Let's take a look at my route:

To make it easier to see, I have highlighted the even-numbered controls in green and the odds in yellow. I started out on evens (green) in an anticlockwise direction from Thabela (bottom of map).

I made two mistakes - for the rest I was very, very happy with both my navigation, route choice and order of collecting the controls.

Mistake #1
Following my route from the start, I hit the first two controls beautifully. Going to #3, my mind wandered. Leaving #2, I had a visual fix on where I needed to go for #3. I came off the hill from #2 on target, crawling like a little animal through thorny trees (the theme for the day!). In a hop-skip-and-jump I was across the valley and onto the next hill, exactly as I'd planned.

Going up the side of the hill, diagonally, my mind was in its own world. I remember thinking things like:

"I miss not having my dog with me; but it is a good thing because she would hate this terrain and being out here so long."

"I love rogaining. This is so much fun."

"I really need to get around to adding proper orienteering colours to this map."

"Thank goodness for the recent Golden Gate Challenge. I'm climbing these hills like a champ."

I got to what I think was probably the right spot to head straight uphill to the control but instead I continued a bit longer, moving through gaps in the vegetation. I went a bit further still and thought, "It really feels like I've gone too far". I decided to just head upwards more as I couldn't see a thing through the vegetation. Again I thought, "I am sure I'm too far right" and "I'm sure I've gone too far". Well, yes, I had gone too far. I got to the top of the far-right rise and had to contour and then drop down into the saddle to get the control, which was exactly where I'd initially expected it to be and the saddle there was the size and shape I'd expected it to be. I estimate that I may have lost a good 20 minutes with this one. I didn't have a watch on so it really is a guestimate.

It was good to make a mistake then and there because it kept me more focused for the rest of the day. 

The terrain our here is brutal. Rocky, steep, grassy, thorny, steep, rocky... I climbed and climbed and descended... I am thankful for the recent Golden Gate Challenge where I did the same. Only this time I didn't have my trusty trekking poles. As my thighs were acclimatised to the rigours of steep ascents and descents, I actually felt really good.

The terrain being what it was, I didn't run much, especially on this early part of the route. I even did a good number of stints ascending rocky slopes - sometimes going up bare rock - on all fours!  Running along the valley road was a treat.

Not a mistake
To the left, middle of the map you'll see my green track dipping in and out (near control 146), like I've backtracked. I went to get water at a water drop before continuing. I was down 1.5 litres and very thirsty. I filled up with another 1.5 litres and drank a good 800ml there, headed back out on the road and continued. 

Mistake #2
I swapped to odds (yellow route) once I was satisfied that I'd done ok with the evens and that getting any more evens was no longer advantageous.

From 137 to 151, I ran on the trail. I could have taken a short cut to 151 in distance but in time it would have taken me longer being off road and bashing through vegetation. 

I hit 151 spot-on. I took a great route from 151 to 153 - initially. I have a feeling that I dropped down very nearly spot-on, adjacent to the mine tunnel. Except, I hadn't yet looked at the control description so I didn't realise that the flag was at the mine tunnel, I thought it was in the re-entrant. I wasn't even looking for it at this point.

On the map I struggled to see the track for the path loop, that I knew was there. I thought that it went up higher than it did. I was also a little mixed up because earlier, going past 163 I'd seen the control in the re-entrant. With my map quite torn and folded, I didn't realise that what I'd seen before was not the one that I was now looking for. So, I took the path less travelled up the re-entrant. It was great exploring but after a few minutes I realised that something was wrong as the flag wasn't where I expected it to be. I unfolded my tattered map, read the control description and turned around. Of course I knew where the mine tunnels are and I knew that I'd overshot. I nailed the control a few minutes later.

I still had more than an hour at this point. I took a neat run to 147 and met up with two guys there. We went through to 159 together. Leaving 159 we took the same route down but I went for 141 while they went elsewhere.

Breaking my rule at the end
My initial plan was to get 141 and then return to the road, head past the green control to 143 and then to 145 on top of the hill before heading home (dotted purple track). It was a more gentle route to get to 145 via 143 and I still had 40 minutes...

Leaving 141 I took one look at the hill on which 145 was located and decided that I could live in peace for the rest of my days if I didn't get it - the descent would have been steep and thickly vegetated. So, I didn't. 

I bagged one last low-scoring control on the road home, chatted to people and made it to the finish with at least 22 minutes to spare. 

The cold pool at Thabela was very welcoming and soothing. Have I mentioned what an absolutely sweltering day it had been? Definitely in the mid-30s the whole time out there - absolutely roasting!

I finished with 610 points, which looks dismal compared to Nic and Kelvin's 990 points.  Nonetheless, it was a good enough score to place me fourth overall. Second and third scored 770 and 690 respectively. As I was a non-competitive participant running on my own (rogaining is always in pairs), it is just a score on paper. Still, I'm chuffed.

I was happy with my strategy, I felt at no time under pressure and I took the climbs like a champ - feeling good and strong all the way. I look forward to see Nicholas' route. He has a cunning mind for rogaining and sees options for sweeping through the course to collect maximum points that I just don't see.

All in all, a very good day and one of the most strategically cunning rogaining routes that we've had in many years. Congratulations to Ian on his superb planning and to Glen for being Ian's right-hand aide.

No comments: