Wednesday, May 17, 2006

US Rogaine National Championship

This weekend just for fun Krissy Moehl and I decided to race in our first ever Rogaine – and no it’s not about the hair (or lack of).

What is a rogaine? Rogaining is the sport of long distance cross-country navigation in which teams of two to five members visit as many checkpoints as possible in a set time limit. Teams travel entirely on foot, navigating by map and compass.”

So we headed down to Antelope, OR for the US Rogaining Championship. There were two major categories, an 8 hour event and a 24 hour event. Even though both of us wanted to compete in the 24 hour event we chose the 8 hour event for two reasons: I have a big race at the end of this month; Less than a week before Krissy raced in the Miwok 100k. So an 8 hour event sounded perfect. We raced as team Montrail Melee.

Krissy had never really navigated before, so we attempted to make the beginners class held the night before the event. We caught the last hour of it and it was enough for her to get the basics and she picked it up extremely quickly.

Race day we received the maps two hours before the race started and began to plan our route. I have to thank my teammate Glenn Rogers for helping plan and mark up my map - it really helped when I was dehydrated and couldn't see straight! Glenn along with another DART-nuun teammate Aaron Rinn won the 24-hour event... this after having just competed in the Might Mo Expedition Adventure Race in Missouri - tough guys.

We decided on the East side of the two maps to focus on and planned our route through the terrain. Next thing we knew we were running up hill for our first CP (checkpoint). It was close and within 4 minutes we had our first CP! Since you can visit the CP’s in any order people started running in every direction and after the first few CP’s we were racing pretty much alone, running into a team here and there. We hit the first few CP’s with little issue and were moving pretty fast, running everything possible and fast hiking the steep climbs. There was a main road that ran between the two maps we could run when it made sense. The travel was mostly cross country on off camber slopes with loose rocks. Running this type of terrain is very hard on the feet but we left with just a few blisters and sore feet.

I had no idea if Krissy was really interested in navigating or would just be along for the ride, either would have been fine with me. From start to finish she was analyzing the map and the terrain, making suggestions, offering opinions and pointing out features. It was so great. Often I’d have my head in the map and she’d be able to point something out that I hadn’t noticed. The entire race we deciphered the map together, this was a true team effort.

Everything was going well until CP 42 (I might have nightmares about this CP). We hiked up an old creek bed and the draw to the saddle where the CP should have been. I knew we were in the correct location and every feature around added up, but there is no CP punch. Later I heard another navigator say he walked up to the saddle, looked around and left right away knowing that he was in the right spot and the CP punch was not. I simple do not yet have that kind of confidence in my navigation. I could not fathom that there would be a missing CP at the US Rogaining Championship so I figured I must have made the mistake. We spent another hour traveling up and down the ridge looking for it while I swore a lot. After reassessing the area from a high point we ended up back at the same saddle, certain that it was the right place. We had to cut our losses and moved on. We found out after the race the CP was some 400 yards away in the wrong place.

At certain CPs on course with a big “W” next to them on the map there is water to refill with. After a few hours and almost out of water we arrived at the Northern most CP. There was supposed to be water there, but there was nothing. Later we found out that we arrived earlier than they had anticipated and they simply hadn’t gotten water up there yet. We had at least another 8+ miles of cross country terrain (read: no trails) to cover and 3 CPs before we would see another CP with water. Two hours later we were both out of water and feeling really light headed and dehydrated when we ran into the CP with water. H2O never tasted so good!

With our bellies full and our batteries recharged from the nuun we shared we reassessed our route. If you finish past the 8 hour time limit you are docked 100 points for every minute over the 8 hours you go. We shortened our route and planned to hit the CP on the back side of a cool jagged rock peak. After climbing to this CP faster than we thought we would we were able to hit another one on the lake close to the HH (Hash House/Finish). From there Krissy noticed there was a low point value CP just a short distance up a creak from the road on the West map I had not even looked at. We put a "burn on" as I like to say and started running hard. We arrived at the CP so fast we almost had time for one more further out the road, but we would have had to have been perfect and super fast to get it. We decided it wasn't worth the risk and we ran into the finish with a time of 7:35 and 960 points.

…and we won - we were 1st overall, even beating the all male teams! (didn't hurt that I had one of the fastest female ultra runners on my team) so.. we’re the US 8-Hour Rogaine Champions! Pretty sweet!

My Gear:
Shoes - Montrail Highlines
Electrolyte replacement - nuun

Backpack - Gregory Stimulus
Fuel – Hammer Gel, Perpetuem, Endurolytes
Post Race – Recover-Ease, Recoverite

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