Winning and Losing – Rogaine Series

The 2nd and 3rd addition of this year’s Auckland Rogaine Series have given me a win and a 4th although under the circumstance the 4th really felt like a slap in the face. But in all fairness I was glad to be confronted by a truly difficult rogaine last Sunday and some ruthless terrain to keep me honest. It is always astounding the way the my brain dies when I run hard – my GPS shows some shameful mistakes.

The 2nd race in the series was held by Auckland Orienteering Club in the South Woodhill area which suited me fine. The mature pine forest is mainly flat and there aren’t many technical challenges but I did have to make sure I used the tracks and roads to my advantage. The rogaine planning was pretty easy and I set a course to get all the points available but had allowed for some possible cut offs near the end. However, there was 1 control which threw the proverbial SI card amongst the matagauri by being significantly further away than any other controls and up a massive hill! The only viable way to get this control was between 144 and 40 which weren’t close to the finish so it is hard to estimate whether or not you have enough time available. By missing out 150 you would be sure to get all the other points available and be back within the time limit. The risk is that if you get the points it could take much longer than it’s worth and could result in missing out on more than 50 points elsewhere. Matt Ogden chose not to visit this control but finished well short of the 90 minute time limit – not ideal.

All controls were relatively close to other controls except 150 in the top right

Tom Reynolds and I committed to getting this control and so had to decide what controls to miss out near the end of the 90 minutes. I knew I was running a solid race and I had the strength to run hard all the way to the finish, but what I was most happy about was my decision to leave out 135. This made the difference between Tom and I since he was late by 1 minute and 8 seconds costing him 40 points after he claimed only 30 points from visiting 135. I missed the 30 points because I didn’t go to 135 but got my timing right and finished with 30 seconds to spare and 1110 points. I took the victory by the smallest possible margin of 10 points and with Tom only 10 points ahead of Matt it was a very tight top 3.

Last minute decisions drawn over my GPS from QuickRoute

My planned route is in red and the blue line shows my decision to miss out 135 in order to make it to the finish without any time penalties. Tom’s difference is shown in orange, where he decided to get 135 and still had to get 33 which I had got earlier in the race. This rough coastal dunes cost him too much time and also the victory.

Prize giving

Congratulated on my first place at prize giving

I was not so in control on the 3rd Rogaine which was held by North West Orienteering Club on the Whites line and Beautiful Hills maps. Some massive days at university had stuffed up my training and by body didn’t cope at all well going from high intensity to 2 days of nothing. My attempt at intervals on the Saturday was pretty pathetic and I still felt very flat and out of control for most of the rogaine on the Sunday.

On the massive uphill leg from 30 to 44 I managed to get away from Matt and James but I stuffed up in the native bush losing what lead I had and more. After 48 I should have headed towards the finish via 47, 46, 56 and 50 before bailing out of the natives but I was far too cocky and tried to bite off more that I could chew and continued to head further east. I ended up 7 minutes late losing 140 points taking me into 4th place which felt pretty lame after dropping Matt and James who finished 1st and 2nd respectively.

Finish of pain and suffering

Detailed results can be found at

Bivouac Outdoor Rogaine Series

Last Sunday marked the rebirth of the Auckland’s Rogaine Series, this year sponsored by Bivouac Outdoor and featuring 90 minute and 3 hour options for all 4 races. This series will become a crucial part of my training for these 4 weeks as it is a great opportunity to build endurance in some physical terrain. The majority of the elite orienteers have decided to run the 90 minute options since it is a more relevant length to long distance orienteering and will be more closely contested (if Toby would stop smashing us).

The first race was run by North West Orienteering Club and was held at Shank’s Pony, a steep farmland map near Helensville. The area consists of many deep gullies filled with manuka trees of varying density which hid many small re-entrants, water courses, and marshes. The map isn’t too technical because it is mostly open land but some tight control sights had me thinking and I did lose time when my focus wavered.

The controls were placed well and none of the top runners had the same route choices which made for a much better rogaine. I planned my route with a large emphasis on holding my height to prevent losing time running up some of the big slopes. My route had some downfalls but with the limited planning time I committed myself to my choices.

My GPS route showing some long slow climbs in red but managed to converse height in most cases

 I had a few messy spots mainly in the control circles where I should have paid more attention earlier in the leg rather than having to stop and check the map in the last 100m. I was mostly happy with my running and I could feel my hamstrings getting tired before my quads which might be attributed to my good strength and technique work I have been doing. I felt pretty low on fuel at the finish which was a bit disappointing, but normally for a race that long I would have used a squeezy or 2 to refuel while running.

The area was a bit too small for 90 minutes and 3 of us got all 1200 point available. Toby Scott won with a time of 1:14:50 and James Bradshaw secured 2nd place in 1:20:06. I had seen James 20 minutes from the finish and accepted he was too far away to be caught. My time of 1:25:39 was good enough for 3rd but I will be looking for a win next week.

Stride for Success

Stride for success is a running race put on by the University of Auckland with the goal of financially assisting top runners at the University. Currently this is just in the form of prizes and prize money but it is hoped that it will grow big enough that more significant funding can be given out from this event. There are 2 sections to this event with an Elite Individual race first and a 3 hour relay race afterwards. We had 12 of us from the orienteering crew keen to race so we entered a full team of 10 into the relay and Imogene and myself ran the individual race. The course was a cool loop around Albert Park and some of the University with the event centre on Old Government House Lawn.

The Stride for Success course

My individual race started at 8:30 so I had to get up at some silly hour to eat and then had another snooze before driving into town. I had no idea how many people were going to run the race or whether many fast people would come but the event organisers had done a good job in getting some pretty good track runners to race. The race started like an 800 which I thought was pretty crazy so I stuck to my strengths and raced my own for the first lap. I passed all but 1 of the people who started out fast which is always satisfying.

I had 5 laps of the 2km loop which consisted of as much hills as possible and plenty of twisting and turning on the paths and though the buildings. The hardest parts for me were the false flats were I felt that I should be running faster but the slight uphill incline was enough to slow me significantly. QuickRoute shows the slower patches from my GPS in red (the course goes anti-clockwise). Some of the red patches on corners are more likely to be errors with the GPS especially in the buildings.

GPS track from my Garmin

The seconds lap was much more settled and I worked on hunting down the runners ahead and moved into 4th place on the second lap. I was overtaken for a short time but only by a few metres which was good as we paced each other well. As soon as I felt the pace slow slightly coming into Albert Park for the 3rd time I decided to make my move. I sprinted into the downhill to get a small gap and then attacked the sharp climb to get clear. I hoped this was enough to be slightly demoralising for the other runner but he faded away in the last lap anyway.

I could see the runner in 3rd fading in the last 2 laps and I got about 20 seconds on him in the 4th lap which was extremely motivating. I could see him looking back frequently in the last lap and I got very close after launching myself around Albert Park for the last time. I could see him running much slower than me on the slight incline leaving the park but he had enough energy left for a strong final 400 and put a few seconds on me through the buildings. It was a good crack at taking the $100 prize money off him but only got to within 10 seconds and probably would have needed a 5 second buffer to avoid a sprint finish.

I ran a pretty good race considering I haven’t done speed work for ages and given the 10,000 metre times of the guys I was racing against I’m happy with my placing. I raced to my strengths and my legs responded well to the changing pace around the course. I didn’t feel tired so yesterday’s easy session did its’ job.

I stayed around to watch the Auckland University Orienteering Club team smash the relay starting at 10:30. The goal was to run as many laps as possible in the 3 hours given which made for some very exciting watching and some strategic planning. Tom Reynolds and Matt Ogden walked away the fastest times of the day closely followed by Ed Lawley, who’s team finish in second place, 1 lap behind.

A pretty happy Auckland University Orienteering Team at prize giving