Leo had been telling us for months how good the format for the Rogue Raid was so our expectations were high as we headed up to Brisvegas. As is usually the case some of us were organised and prepared and some of us were a bit underdone with life commitments (family, work etc), old man niggles (got to get those excuses ready) and the odd lurgy (Josh had his cold and flu tablets packed already).
I like describing the rogaine format as “choose your own adventure” as you get to select which checkpoints (CPs) you get and leave based on the time you think it will take vs the points the CP is worth. The Rogue format was essentially a series of rogaines where you chose which CPs to get. The 7 legs in this race could be treated as 7 separate rogaines, but we did need to consider the whether points were easier to get on some legs when deciding which ones we would drop. The only catch is that if you want to do well you really need to aim to get them all – and that is what we decided to do.
We got the maps on Sat morning (7am) so had 4 hours to plan our route and pack our gear into the one box. The latter was relatively easy as the logistics were straight forward, but the question of when to start dropping CPs got too complicated for our little brains so we decided to go for them all until we got sick of it or ran out of time. We did a little planning working timings out backwards from the finish, but probably not quite enough as it turned out.
Leg 1 – Run
This leg only had two CPs worth a grand total of 40 points. It was very tempting to drop them as the effort to get them did not seem commensurate with the number of points, but once dropped we would loose to anybody who cleared the course (which kind of looked feasible) so we thought we better get them. We ran off and promptly messed both of them up and came into the first TA onto the bikes 10 mins or so behind the leaders. Not great but only early days!
Leg 2 – MTB
Liam (the organiser and Guru of all things rogaining and adventure racing) hinted that this was a simple leg which aimed to get teams to the paddle in time to finish it before dark (no paddling was permitted on the lakes after dark). This proved to be the case, despite both Leo and Hugh deciding to do the last MTB leg backwards before realising their mistake (another 10 mins lost! Even different coloured highlighter was overlooked). We were meant to be fresh and were making our stupid tired mistakes already.
We rode well for the rest of the leg enjoying the bits of single track, but not the hills so much and caught all but Wild Earth and Rogue who were 20mins or so ahead).
Leg 3 – Paddle
Little choice here. Small lake and we did the lap without any issues. With a fast and a slow boat (teams were supplied two different types of boat and one was significantly slower than the other) we tried towing but probably lost as much time setting up and getting tangled getting CPs as we gained by towing.
Leg 4 – Run
We headed off a couple of minutes ahead of Thought Sports and it was not long before they caught us and (for the second time this race) we made the mistake of following them overshooting a CP. After that we travelled together for a while and made quite good time. We had a few km of road bashing in the middle of this leg and our friends from Thought Sports thought it would be a good idea to put us in the hurt box and they disappeared into the darkness not long after this. We were hoping they would break themselves or make a mistake as we know the speed we can sustain and kept within our limits.
The rest of the run was uneventful and we got into transition about 10 mins after Thought Sports and about 30 mins behind Wild Earth and Rogue.
Leg 5 – MTB
This leg looked long with LOTS of route choice and all at night. The 25m contour interval on the maps hid LOTS of little ups and downs and there was much more undulation (i.e. climbing) than we were expecting. In the end we were happy with our route choice, but let down by a mistake, which involved riding down the wrong road for a km or two with the ride back up taking 15 mins! This was one of Hugh’s not happy moments.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the race was the Angry Owner CP. This was the last CP on the leg and as we turned up the road to get it a couple of guys rode out the other way. Our enquiries as to how they were going were answered with “There is an angry farmer up there and he threatened to set his dogs on us so we came back this way”. Decision time for us did not take long as Bern confidently said she could handle an angry farmer! We did decide to turn our lights of to avoid disturbing anyone, but as we got to where we thought we should turn we had to use our lights to check the maps. Shortly after we were greeted with a request to “Go and ride your bikes somewhere else” followed by the sound of a vehicle starting up and racing down the hill. It did not take us long to jump the gate and scarper down the hill to the sounds of one angry dude yelling things we could not understand.
We were all awake now and the last few km was very uneventful.
Leg 6 – Run
The ride took us 9 hours so our time guesstimates were telling us the we would not be able to clear the course with the time we had left. So we headed out on the run madly going through options for which CPs to drop. We were a bit too conservative (partly because we thought our race was run as the leaders were well ahead) and decided not to push for the high point controls which would require a bit of running. We also decided to implement our swim shortcut strategy, which proved to be a costly mistake. There were two lakes on the map and one had no swimming clearly marked and one did not. We assumed this meant swimming would be OK in the one without the marking. A 15min swim would save about 30 mins of running and allow us to get another 50 points of CPs so we all agreed to give it a go. AND the water was very nice as the sun came up as it was quite warm.
Leg 7 – Paddle
We were 30mins behind the time we thought we needed to clear the paddle CPs so we planned on dropping two of the outlying CPs, but still paddled clockwise to keep that option open (despite it not being favourable in the wind). The paddle was trouble free with a bit of socialising with Tri Adventure (who were having a great race). The last few km into the wind took us longer than we hoped and we decided we did not have sufficient time to paddle the 5-6km to get the last two CPs and headed back to the finish.
It is frustrating to finish a rogaine early, but even more so when you learn that you missed two places by only 80 points (we left 90 on the paddle leg).
As it turned out we were penalised 80 points for swimming (the course notes did say it was not allowed – our bad for not checking) and this dropped us back from 2nd to 4th. We had no idea we were even in the hunt for 2nd as we did not realise Rogue had dropped a few CPs on the bike and Wild Earth had a few hiccups on the last two legs.
So overall it was a disappointing result for us. The rogaine format was a nice change from the usual point to point race, but we were not up to it. Too many little mistakes (like not reading the rules properly), poor strategy and insufficient pace on foot put us well behind Thought Sports who were very deserving winners. Rogue had a great race to claim second and I suspect Wild Earth had similar feelings to ours coming home in third after leading most of the race.
4th puts us on the back foot in the A1 series with a bit of a gap to Wild Earth and Thought Sports who are equal leaders.
Geoquest is next, which is a bit of an unknown quantity this year with new organisers. We are hoping this means some fresh ideas given the course area has been visited a few times over the years. We are really looking forward to showing up with our usual approach of having fun first and seeing what comes. Leo will be sitting this one out and his mystery replacement is madly eating donuts and trying to grow his leg hair so he can fill Leo’s shoes ….. not an easy job.
Special thanks to our apparel supporter Aussie Grit. There were no outfit changes this race as we just love our orange shirts! One thing we have learnt about Aussie Grit is that their attention to detail and quality is exceptional #nostoneunturned.
Our race video is here.