Tag Archives: Rogaining

Looking for a team mate for two events

Unfortunately, my Whoops Witch Way team mate has to travel overseas for urgent family business so she’s no longer able to race with me in our next rogaine and adventure race. So I’m looking for a team mate to come along to either (or both) the:

Both races are being held within 2 hours of Brisbane, Australia. Cost is:

  • $10 membership to Rogaining Qld for the Navigate Like Byron race
  • $80 for the iAdventure sprint race (which is cheaper than early bird entry).

You do not need to have any rogaining, adventure racing or navigation experience. I’m happy to use these two events as opportunities to introduce you to either or both sports. All you need is:

Navigate Like Byron rogaine

  • Ability to walk for up to 8 hours with rests
  • Sense of adventure because we are likely to get geographically embarrassed at times
  • Transport to / from the event
  • Your own food for the duration of the event

iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race

  • Mountain bike and Australian safety approved helmet
  • Whistle
  • Ability to cycle off-road on fire trails and simple single tracks (it is okay to walk uphill or through technical sections of the course)
  • Ability to walk for up to 4 hours with rests
  • Sense of adventure because anything can happen during an adventure race (though we are less likely to get lost than in the rogaine)
  • Transport to / from the event
  • Your own food for the duration of the event

Unfortunately, we are unlikely to get a chance to train together before the events because I have a Scout camp and the Adventure Race Australia this weekend. But, hey, if we both bring our sense of humour with us it can still be fun.

If you are interested, leave a comment and I’ll be in touch by email (while your email address doesn’t show publicly, I can see it through the administrator function in my blog).

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Rogue 24hr Adventuregaine

Suwati carrying kayak out of creek after Stage 1 (Photo courtesy of Rogue Adventure)

Suwati carrying kayak out of creek after Stage 1 (Photo courtesy of Rogue Adventure)

As I sit here on Monday morning, it’s difficult to know how to start writing about the fantastic weekend my team mate and I had at the Rogue 24hr Adventuregaine. If all anyone looked at was the points on the scoreboard, they might think that Whoops Witch Way had a shocking race, scoring just 1670 out of a possible 3370 points, making us 34th of 45 teams or 14th out of 17 mixed teams. But scoreboards sometimes do lie. Both members of Whoops Witch Way agree that the Rogue 24hr Adventuregaine was one of the most fantastic weekends either of us have ever had.

At midday Saturday, we set off on the first of four stages: a 20km kayak down Yabba Creek. As with all rogaining events, all checkpoints are optional and teams may complete them in any order within a given stage. We had established a game plan intended to ensure we had an enjoyable and physically challenging weekend while also building our confidence for future rogaining events (this was only our second rogaine). So, instead of running off to CP1 with the other teams, we walked down to the kayak transition and set off on the water.

Yabbe Creek contained just enough water for us to paddle. The lowest recommended depth for paddling the creek is when 6cm water flows over the dam wall; we had 7cm. This meant we had a few little portages and sections where we had to get out so that the kayak could float over shallow sections of the creek. Though the lack of water also meant we could limbo our way under some of the bridges and fallen trees that crossed over the creek. There were even some small shallow and simple rapids for us to negotiate on our way downstream to add a bit of spice to the day.

Our tactic to skip the first checkpoint meant that we had the creek to ourselves for most of the stage. We saw the lead teams twice as they passed us in the first half of the stage and then again after they stopped to do the optional foot rogaine mid-stage. Both teams were friendly and didn’t complain when they got stuck behind us in narrow sections of the creek. Team Spin City Cycles even gave us a few tips to help us improve our paddling efficiency as they raced past us.

The view from CP19 (Stage 2 MTB)

The view from CP19 (Stage 2 MTB)

Our transition between stages 1 and 2 was slow and deliberate. We dried off with a towel, changed into dry clothing, laid out a picnic blanket and made chicken wraps, which we sat down to eat. All around us, teams were moving quickly to cram food into their systems and refill their hydro packs. It was amazing to be sitting there amidst some of adventure racing and rogaining’s elite teams to see how different their approach is to our’s. One by one, each of the teams disappeared into the distance, taking the northern route option out into the forest. About half an hour after we arrived, we too were ready to set off in the opposite direction.

Selfie at CP19 (Stage 2 MTB)

Selfie at CP19 (Stage 2 MTB)

We decided to focus our mountain bike leg on accuracy, rather than distance. We selected a 40km route that took us through some of the less hilly terrain. This was all part of our game plan to select a route suitable to our abilities that would allow us to really enjoy the weekend. We started the ride in daylight, enjoying some quiet forestry roads that ran along a bubbling creek. As the sun started to set, we came upon CP19, one of the most stunning points on the course. There was no way I was letting the moment pass without stopping to take some photos of the view and an obligatory selfie of our smiling faces.

As day turned to night, we cruised around the course collecting all the checkpoints we had marked up on the map. We only saw a handful of other teams as they either rode towards us or were stopped filling bottles at the water station. We even took time to stop and attach multicoloured glow sticks to ourselves and our bikes; such were our spirits.

We were the first team to arrive at Race HQ after stage 2, not because we were fastest but probably because we rode the shortest distance. The lovely Gary and Kim (from Team Mountain Designs who won the 8-hour race), and their friends came over to HQ to share a laugh with us. It sounded like they’d had a magnificent day on the 8-hour course and an enjoyable evening around the campfire. Their tips and encouragement were greatly appreciated as we prepared to head off onto Stage 3, a night navigation trek course that would prove to be a challenge.

Stage 3 was not our most productive in terms of  points. We spent three hours trekking and only found two of the four checkpoints we attempted. However, with a near-full moon, cloudless skies and only the two lead teams out on the course with us, the late night trek was stunning. After wasting an hour desperately trying to find CP34, only to learn later that we had walked straight past it, we turned off our headlamps and trotted off down the gravel road. As we ran/walked our way along the road, we watched the lead teams’ head torches climb up and back down a mountain to CP33. It made us glad we hadn’t decided to head out for it because they had to go a long way uphill. We found the easy win at CP28 and then another easy find at CP32 along a fenceline before spending about an hour trudging around looking for the 100 pointer at CP31. We have learned that we were again mere metres from our goal. Had we stuck to our game plan we might just have found it but we made the tactical error of believing we were in the wrong place because one of the top two teams (who cleared the course) were somewhere different to us.

While we didn’t score many points in Stage 3, it did serve as a reminder for us to race our own race and ignore everyone else on the course, no matter how good they are.

We returned to Race HQ around 1am and decided to punch in, ending all thoughts we might have of returning to the stage 3 trek leg. With kayaks for the final stage being unavailable until 5am, we decided to hit the hay. My team mate did a fantastic job setting up camp so that we could both crash out for a solid three hour slumber.

Morning mist on Booroomba Dam (Stage 4)

Morning mist on Booroomba Dam (Stage 4)

At 4am we woke and prepared ourselves for the final stage: a kayak with optional trek legs around Booroomba Dam. The sleep was just what we needed to refresh our bodies and spirits, ready for a long paddle in perfect conditions.

Paddling out of the mist from CP45 (Stage 4)

Paddling out of the mist from CP45 (Stage 4)

We were one of four teams to launch their boats at 5:30am. With the lead teams taking off in opposite directions around the course, we were soon paddling alone enjoying the misty pre-dawn light. Visibility was limited as the mist hung thick in the air. For most of the first hour, the only colour in our world was the bright red boat, yellow PFDs, and orange and white checkpoint markers.

At CP49 (Stage 4) (Photo courtesy of Rogue Adventure)

At CP49 (Stage 4) (Photo courtesy of Rogue Adventure)

The dam was populated by armies of dead trees, standing eerily in the water watching silently. It wasn’t until we saw them that we realised why CP49 was a 100-pointer. The clue ‘on dead tree’ but the CP was hidden amongst hundreds such trees standing in a large clump. As we came out of the inlet from CP45, we could just make out the shape of a team paddling amongst the dead trees some distance away. We couldn’t tell whether or not they had found the CP, but we decided to head in that general direction to check things out. The other team left the area quickly without us being able to tell where they’d stopped. But between our angle or approach and the first rays of sunlight, we were lucky enough to spot the bright orange marker in the distance and made a beeline for it. A random kayaker we saw paddling around turned out to be one of the race directors who snapped a photo of us celebrating our successful find.

Paddling to CP50 (Stage 4)

Paddling to CP50 (Stage 4)

As the sun rose, the day just got even more beautiful. The black water reflected the shoreline and sky, as bright blue kingfishers flitted around looking for breakfast.

Paddling to CP50 (Stage 4)

Paddling to CP50 (Stage 4)

We found all the kayak checkpoints in stage 4 but opted not to attempt the trekking CPs because we wanted to remember the race for the successes and joys, rather than risking frustration.

We had such a fun time on the race

We had such a fun time on the race

There will be other races in which Whoops Witch Way race for the purpose of finishing as high on the scoreboard as we possibly can. But sometimes, you just have to go out to have fun. The Rogue 24hr Adventuregaine tested our physical endurance and was a huge confidence-builder in our first full season together as a team. We’ve never attempted such a long event and discovered that, with a few hours sleep, we can keep it together and keep our heads. All going well, you’ll see team Whoops Witch Way at the start line for the 2014 Rogue 24hour Adventuregaine. And, who knows, we might just have a little more experience, confidence and skills by then so that we can race a little further while still just having fun.

Total:

  • 34th / 45 teams total
  • 14th / 17 mixed teams
  • About: 35km paddle, 40km MTB, 15km trek

Getting geared up

I love outdoors gear. I think it’s one of the reasons adventure racing appeals to me so much: because it can involve cool gear. While today might be a rest day for my body, I certainly gave my credit card a good workout. But it was all essential adventure racing equipment.

It started with me going to the bicycle shop and buying the Merida Big Nine TCR 100 29er mountain bike that I looked at yesterday. I received a $100 voucher to use for accessories so also bought tubes, frame pump, bottle cage, tail light and cycle computer. The shop didn’t have any frames my size in the shop (17″ frame) but they should have the bike in by Thursday at the latest, which works out well because I’ll be in Perth (on Australia’s west coast) until Wednesday evening.

Then I stopped at Kathmandu to buy a deluxe saddle bag and cycling multi tool for the new MTB. I have one each of these for my road bike and am so impressed with the products that I decided to buy a second set so that I don’t have to change them between bikes.

I then went online to the Area51 website to purchase some team adventure racing gear. When I phoned my sister to confer with her, she mentioned that she too happened to be on the Area51 website doing the same thing. We bought:

While I was thinking about adventure racing, I also decided to skip the 45km Red Rocks to Coffs beach trail run on 21 April to focus on the 24 hour Rogue Adventuregaine on 27-28 April. I am going to be focusing on mountain biking until Rogue because this is a huge weakness for me.

Total: Trip to physio to get elbows pushed into my muscles, stretching and rest.

Update on Upside Down Rogaine results

In a surprising result (for us), team Whoops Witch Way came:

  • 11th / 20 mixed teams (the top 4 teams were all mixed so that shows the quality of the field)
  • 25th / 52 teams in total.

So it seems we did quite well and shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves for our night navigation misadventures.

Upside Down Rogaine

Map marking by Andrew Gills
Map marking, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Team Whoops Witch Way hasn’t ever done a rogaine before. We’ve completed an adventure race and did quite well, but rogaining proved to be a whole other ball game. To make matters more challenging, we selected an 8 hour night navigation event as our introduction to the sport.

We collect our maps from the Hash House at 9pm. The sky is clear and the weather is warm. Other teams have fantastic set-ups: tents, tables, chairs and camp lanterns. By contrast, we have a small low table that you can use while sitting on the ground, a blanket and our head torches. But it works for us.

We are overly ambitious as we mark up the map. We select controls on the western side of the course, which will see us traveling through steep forested country that is criss-crossed by creek networks full of lantana. We could have selected an easier route through the open farm country to the east. A lesson for our next event.

At 11pm we join the 50 other teams racing off onto the course. 90% of the field travels the same way as we do and we find ourselves following the crowd. Fortunately, the crowd takes us quickly to CP23 and then on to CP64. We score an easy 80 points but have spent a lot of energy climbing some steep slopes.

From CP64 we follow a course to a set of powerlines, taking us directly to CP53 and on to CP81. Powerlines are double-edged swords. They are easy-to-follow handrails that generally travel in straight lines but they also seem to include steep hills with creeks in between each; so the travel is slow.

As we climb to CP81, we watch the fireflies (other racers’ torches) winding their way across the hills. It’s a beautiful sight. We are both surprised to see the many approaches different teams are taking to approach the same locations.

From CP81 we take a bearing to the road that separates it from CP92. The ‘road’ turns out to be a foot track. At first we are confused but then we trust our map-to-ground skills and quickly identify a course of action. We follow the road to a junction where we turn off, rather than traveling steeply down the steep mountainside. It’s a good decision but we are still soon caught in a pocket of lantana that threatens to block our progress. Teams bunch up as we all try to fight our way through the prickly wall of vines.

From CP92 we travel up a spur to a ridge that takes us directly to CP80. We’re in a firefly train but are still paying attention to our own nav.

Then disaster strikes. We take an easterly bearing to drop down the mountain from CP80 to 52. It should be easy nav: travel east to down a steep slope to a creek then climb a knoll. But it’s 1am and we’re both feeling the sleep monster’s attack. Before we know it we’ve turned 180′ and are traveling in a westerly direction. We walk in circles for half an hour forcing our way through some lantana to find a large wide creek.

I admit I felt panicked because I just couldn’t place us on the map. Nothing looked right. Then we saw another set of headlights and follow them to see whether that team know where we are. We decided that it’s better to be safe than proud. The other team confirm that we are actually where we thought we were (we had a good idea despite our circular motion). We join them in a fight through more lantana to the top of the knoll and find CP52.

The other team are experienced rogainers, having participated in the spot for 20 years and having been orienteers since the mid-1970s. They are heading for CP83, which we also hope to find. We have to follow a ridge to a spur. There’s a track and it takes us part-way there but in the darkness, team Whoops Witch way can’t find the spur (the other men did but we had left them behind a bit because we didn’t want them to think we were bludging off them).

Somehow we find CP91. It’s pure luck that other teams are fighting their way up a steep hill so we head down too. We earned each of the 90 points by sliding down a steep re-entrant before crawling back up on hands and feet for about 200m.

It’s 2am and our confidence is totally shattered. But we decide to give CP72 a try. It’s up the trail and then off on a spur. The spur should be easy to find because the rest of the ridge is narrow. But again, we struggle to find it so give up and walk the 1.5km back to CP91 where we know we can take an easterly bearing out of the mountains and into the more open farm land.

As we drop down the bearing, we bump into a three-person mixed team who also got lost down between CP80 and CP92. They also found themselves inexplicably traveling west. We start talking to them. The two men are army and the woman is airforce. The men are carrying 25km packs; using the race as a training exercise for their military obligations. The leader of that team (team 52) is an experienced navigator who exudes confidence and skill.

We follow team 52 to CP45, listening to the leader’s tactics and chatting socially with the team. From CP45 we travel to CP25 with them. CP25 is a water station and sits out in the open. It’s now 4:30am and it’s the first time we stop for a break; albeit a short one.

I ask team 52 whether they mind if we join them for a few CPs. I explain that it’s our first rogaine and that we’re finding the night navigation challenging. I ask whether they might teach us some of their skills as we travel together. Team 52 agree to help us out; a decision for which I will probably always be grateful because it’s the first time anyone’s taught me any nav skills (I am completely self-taught).

On the way to CP65, I learn how to measure the distance we travel by pace-counting and how to decide which route to take to the CP (pure point-to-point bearings aren’t always the most efficient route). We find CP65 and cut down to CP93. Along thew way, I work to practice my pacing as the other team call out their 100m sections.

Team 52’s leader shows great patience as he takes the time to explain the navigation decisions he is making. He is measuring the distance between CPs, calculating the time it is likely to take to travel them and the distance remaining to the Hash House (we have a 7am cut-off). Despite my fatigue, I focus on soaking up his lessons.

The sun starts to rise after CP32. As the land opens up in front of us, I find myself able to help with the nav. I identify the best route to take from the top of a ridge down to CP26 and am pleased to find that my map-to-ground skills are still working. After a challenging night, I was starting to worry my nav skills at Adventure Race Australia last year were pure luck. But the real issue is that we just didn’t know how to navigate at night. Now that the sun is up, I confidently help the two teams find CPs 26 and 46. That’s not to say I found them, but at least I was able to contribute to the navigation.

From CP46 we return to the hash house. My feet are soaking wet from walking through creeks and dew-covered grass. My body is tired and my mind suddenly turns to mush. But I am happy. Not just at finishing the event but with the effort our team put into it. For a first rogaine, the Upside Down certainly didn’t pull any punches.

We scored 740 points, which was nowhere near the leaders. But we weren’t there to win. We learned that we can keep moving for 8 hours and we improved our skills base. Most importantly, the event was a load of fun.

Total: 20km walked and 740 points scored.

iAdventure Kayak Kapers cancelled tomorrow

It’s 10:20pm on Friday night and I’ve just learned that tomorrow’s Kayak Kapers rogaine, hosted by iAdventure, has been cancelled but neither my team mate nor I received any communication about the cancellation. We event went kayak training last weekend to prepare for the event.

The only reason we worked it out is because we can’t find any reference to the event on the iAdventure Facebook page. So my team mate messaged them and they confirmed the cancellation. In their defence, they say they emailed us but neither of us received the email in our inboxes or junk boxes.

I hate races being cancelled at late notice. Guess it leaves me plenty of time to study this weekend.

Night runners

Night runner by Andrew Gills
Night runner, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Team Whoops Witch Way entered another event today: the 8 hour Upside Down Rogain starting at 11pm on 23 February. Seems it’s a good thing we’re doing our trail running training at night because there’s going to be plenty of darkness for that event.

We’re getting fitter and stronger every week, both aerobically and as a team. While we were doing a lot of walking during our first night trail run, in week three we’ve been able to run most of the 7km route I selected tonight. We challenged ourselves to a hilly course and tried to run at least one-third of each hill. As a team we’re talking a lot about our tactics for upcoming events and making sure we are both comfortable with the training sessions selected.

By the time we were 2.5km into our run we were both dripping with sweat. It’s been seriously hot here today and is only going to get hotter over the next few days. It means that every training session feels good. I can’t explain why but working out in the heat, ending up all sweaty makes me feel like I’ve worked harder than if it’s cool.

I love our Wednesday night trail runs. They are one of the highlights of my week, along with our Sunday morning mountain bike rides.

Total: 7.03km trail run