Friday, 27 October 2006

Rogaine racing

I am so excited because this weekend it is the annual Capestorm Rogaine. Rogaining is an orienteering discipline that has you roaming the hills and valleys in search of orienteering controls. But that's not all... The controls are assigned a points value according to their location and difficulty. A control located furtherest from the event base will be weighted more heavily than one easy to find and close to home. The objective of the game is to return to base within the prescribed time period. If you're late? You lose a chunk of points for every minute that you're late.

This year there are two foot Rogaine categories for Saturday. Pairs (you always compete as a pair) can enter either the 2.5hr or 8hr events. For the mountain bike rogaine on the Sunday there are 3hr and 6hr events.

How it works is that you're given a map at the start. The location of all the controls for the event are printed on the map - little red circles. You then have to plan a route that will efficiently take you to as many controls as possible so that you're not zig-zagging all over the place like a headless chicken. Towards the end you'll probably find yourself bolting for home before the cut-off 'cos you really don't want to lose the points you've worked so hard to collect.

When you're out there the time really disappears as you're so focused on finding the controls. But, 8hrs is still a long time. The best thing about Rogaining, especially for novices, is that you can stay out as long or as short as you want to. When you're tired, you return to base, even if it is after only 6hrs. Participation is key.

Interestingly, an 8hr event would be considered "short" abroad where major Rogaines are generally 12hr or 24hrs in duration (the shorter time periods are not uncommon). Unsurprisingly, adventure racers tend to do pretty well. Infact, Michael Tobin and Mike Kloser, of Team Nike fame, won the Rogaine World Championships in 2003 when the event was held in the US.

I'll be running with my orienteering friend Tania. We ran together for the first time last year and had a wonderful experience. In regular orienteering we're "rivals", looking to win events and score max points towards the annual orienteering log. This was the first time that we'd orienteerer together and it was brilliant.

What was really neat is that we sometimes see slightly different routes from one point to the next, which we discuss while running (we each run with a map). Sometimes we may pick my route, other times we'll pick hers and sometimes we combine sections to create the most effective attack. The thing here is that there's no right or wrong when it comes to route choice; some routes are just better than one and together we discover routes we wouldn't have seen on our own. It's really invigorating.

Aside from wanting to keep our paws on our ladies trophy, we're aiming to a decent overall ranking. Competition is stiff and this event is won from speed and cunning.

On Sunday there's a mountain bike orienteering event. I'm doing the 6hr one with Tim. It's going to be great fun as I missed the mtb events last year and the year before. Woooo hoooo!

Now, as I type, I'm sooooo excited about the events this weekend. I've just spoken to Tania and she's just as thrilled. Rogaining my ultimate event because it combines my two favourite disciplines (running and navigation) with my two favourite elements (distance and time) and a dash of excellent companionship.

In advance... Pieter Mulder, thank you for putting on this event again. It's my 4th out of 4 and you can definitely count me in next year for my 5th ;)

Tania and Tim, I'm really looking forward to playing with you in the forests this weekend.

I'm outta here...

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