Monday, 30 October 2006

Rogaine: How to get up a waterfall

What an awesome event this weekend! Of the 4 Rogaine events held annually this was certainly the best in terms of strategy and difficulty.

At previous events it was possible for all controls to be collected within the time period. But this year... it was impossible to run (and bike) this entire area to locate all controls. So, decisions really were about going North or South and how far you would be prepared to go to efficiently collect as many points as possible in the event time period (8hr for foot and 6hrs for bike). And, the best thing is that we barely saw any other pairs the whole time because the route options were not clear and defined. It was wide open. So, only when you got to the end could you find out where people had gone and how you'd done.

The Kaapse Hoop area is mountainous and the terrain - inside and outside of the forests - is tough. Aside from a couple of older, smooth forests, the rest was damn difficult going and much of the time you were either ascending or descending.On Saturday Tania and I had a fabulous and challenging route. If you're still wondering how we got up the waterfall... path to the valley floor, rock fall that Tania cunningly spotted and a body-width crack in the cliff that I fortunately found... phew!

Must say... we made a bloops in the beginning (at least we didn't run 180° in the wrong direction like we did last year) and got trapped by fences and vegetation but then warmed up, then took a dodgey route into the ravine and thought we'd lost loads of time. But we hadn't done too badly. A highlight of the morning was seeing a caracal catch a little buck (maybe a duiker? Couldn't see it clearly 'cos the caracal had wrapped itself - and its jaws - around the little thing). First time I've see a caracal up close in the wild. We walked far more than last year and so it was only when we got to the finish that we realised that we'd done ok in terms of route. Those that went North did a lot of running.

On Sunday it was the mountain bike Rogaine (3hr and 6hr options), which I did with Tim. I'm a lazy mountain biker so the mountains we'd covered the day were additionally daunting; it's one thing going up on your own, it's another pushing your bike up too.We did well for the first 3rs and then tried to take a ride indicated on the map up the side of the mountain from #2 to #1 - big points controls. We were ok for a while and then the trail fizzled and we were in bush. We hunted around, couldn't find access so we backtracked. We probably lost about 30-mins. We nabbed the next two controls and from #7 decided to head to the road end in the valley and bike-carry up the valley side (southern) to the road. We actually did pretty well until confronted by a cliff wall. Soooooo close to the road (probably about 50m) but we just couldn't get through. We tracked downwards again, sliced by vines and fallen branches. This was a strategic move that didn't pay off. That was a whack of time lost and we ended up flying back - on the main road - in the pelting rain, to finish late. I think we lost something like 175 points!

If this move had paid off... oh well... all part of the strategy eh?

Pieter, George, Joan, Botha family and all the other helpers and assistants who hung and collected the 80 controls that were spread around this massive area... thank you for putting this wonderful event on. Rogaines (and other orienteering events) are that much more intensive because of the mapping that has to happen. Pieter put in weeks of work in creating this map.

Tania and Tim, you're wonderful teammates and I thoroughly enjoyed our adventures.

Adventure racers... diarise the Rogaine for next year. It is the best way to really work on your navigation and is an exceptionally challenging orienteering discipline.

Pieter, consider my entry already in for next year. x

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