Note that this article was first published 1 May 2013 at Rogue Adventure.
So the Rogue Adventuregaine has come and gone for another year, reverting back to its original 24hr race format. The forestry, lake and waterways of the Imbil – Borumba area served up the perfect platform for adventure with a lot of variety on offer over the three disciplines of trekking, biking and kayaking. Before I get into an account of how the race unfolded, I’d like to thank all those who turned out and took the race on in the spirit it was intended, with another sellout crowd. The adventuregaine format allows for some strategic competition for the quicker teams, while allowing all teams to create their own achievable adventure.
The 8hr Race
Kicking off things first in the morning, it would be a mistake to think that the “short course” option of 8 hours would be a more social affair, with some very competitive teams towing the line. All eyes were on mixed Team Mountain Designs, however there were a number of other competitive mixed and all male teams that would be chasing hard. The 8hr race involved a “clover-leaf” format course, with 3 stages focusing one on each of the three disciplines which teams could tackle in any order. Indeed, when the starting countdown was done, teams scattered towards all 4 points of the compass with paddles, bikes or compasses in hand. It was a very social vibe back at HQ having teams stream in and out all day transitioning between the various disciplines. After 8hrs of hard racing, it was ultimately Gary Sutherland and Kim Beckinsale from Team Mountain Designs who took out the overall win, sweeping the course with less than 10 minutes to spare. Their comments afterwards were that they didn’t expect to get every CP. Their strategy was to collect all the points on the kayak and bike leg and see where it left them for the final trek leg. As the terrain was so open and fast, they surprised even themselves by sweeping the course – in hindsight I should have left one more CP on every leg of the race from the 24hr course on the 8 hr maps.
Winners of the mens division were team Blowfish (winners of the Rogue 6hr last year), followed by the Hopeless Jokes and the Hopeless Jokes 2 in second and third overall. Leo Theoharis and Bec Wilson took out second in the mixed and fourth overall (ultimately regretting not collecting more CPs on the initial kayak leg), followed by team “Insert Sponsors Name Here”. The pairing of Jan Leverton and Sussie Williams from Tri Adventure Vintage won the womens division in an outstanding sixth place overall, followed by Performance Physio and the Cider Sistas. As an aside, it was great to see the majority of teams stay out for the full 8 hours and attempt all 3 available stages, suggesting the course had a good balance between the disciplines.
The 24hr Race
Onto the main event, and little did we know that we were set for some of the most tight and exciting racing in the history of the Rogue. Before getting into the details though, make sure to check out a flyover of the course here to give perspective on the challenge that teams faced.
After completing bike drops at Imbil and collecting maps from HQ, teams were met with the surprise news that they would be kayaking back to their bikes 20km along the length of Yabba Creek. This is a beautiful section of narrow creek running under the forestry canopy that can have some fun little flows when the water level is right. A number of platypus were even spotted during course setting. Although the creek surrounds have seen some damage from the recent flooding, and the water levels had dropped during the week, river flow was perfect for safe paddling being at 8cm over the dam wall (minimum recommended is 6cm, and when I tested the creek initially, it was at 0cm and a very boney ride).
It did not take long for the faster all male teams to work their way into the lead, stopping for a short run leg mid-paddle. By the time they hit the end of the first stage, only 10 minutes separated the top 5 teams. Times for this stage were also a half hour faster than my quickest prediction, possibly due to the increased creek flow, a theme that was to continue for the rest of the race. Only 27 minutes split the top 3 mixed teams (all on maximum points), with the only three all womens teams tracking well.
Onto the second stage of the race and it was to be a massive bike rogaine up to 80km long finishing back at HQ. It’s fair to say that this is where my time predictions were humbled by the cracking pace set by the quickest teams, who swept this leg hours under my quickest time predictions, aided by a stunning full moon, perfect riding temperatures and a dry track. Back at HQ, it was team SCAR/GAEC first into transition, followed only 4 minutes later by team RUSH – Spin City Cycles, both with full score cards. Team Explore were then only another 20 minutes back, and were followed in by another seven teams through the duration of the night who had swept the course until that point. Further back in the course, the only novice team in this year’s race, mens vets the Escapees were reported to be entertaining locals at the Imbil pub. Apparently the “mad endurance racers” were the talk of the town. Imbil also saw the withdrawal of hot favourites for the womens team title, Jinka, due to illness.
Up the front though, things were starting to get interesting in the battle for first place. After setting off for the 19km Stage 3 trek leg within minutes of each other, SCAR/GAEC and RUSH headed in opposite direction loops. Indeed, their paths would have crossed on the long out and back to check point 38, however RUSH over shot the CP by half a kilometer, with SCAR/GAEC coming in and punching before they made it back. The tables were turned shortly afterwards, however with SCAR/GAEC making a navigational mistake at CP31. All this played out beautifully on the live GPS tracking system in the small hours of the morning. SCAR/GAEC’s mistake effectively handed the lead to RUSH midway through the trek leg, although they wouldn’t know it yet. Meanwhile, Team Explore were tracking about 20 minutes with some good navigation but were unable to close the gap further.
The second half of the trek involved a loop to the south of HQ to via CPs 35 – 37 with a big climb in it. Again, RUSH made a small navigational mistake at the top of the ridgeline that allowed the chasers to close the gap, but were first off the mountain and into HQ. The clock then started to see what the differential back to second and third was. On the tracking system, we could see SCAR/GAEC charging down the hill and it wasn’t long before their headlamps appeared on the edge of camp. In the end they had given up their lead for a 5 minute deficit, and would be left chasing on the final leg. For the rest of the field, many teams were out on this leg at dawn and would have been treated to a spectacular sunrise.
The final stage of the Rogue24 was a kayak leg on Borumba Dam, broken up by a number of short treks into CPs in the surrounding hills. Due to permit restrictions, the leg could not start until 5:30am, and given that the lead teams had swept the course until this point, they were given a time credit from when they arrived in at the end of Stage 3. This meant that RUSH had to defend a 5 minute lead over a stage that was predicted to take about 4 hours. As a bit of history to this point, team RUSH were beaten by team SCAR in the inaugural Rogue24 race in 2010 for second place. Since then, RUSH have finished second at every Rogue event, ever the bridesmaids. Having raced as team mates with all four guys from both teams, I couldn’t pick a team to cheer for, but Russ and Shaun from team RUSH certainly had to be sentimental favourites to finally get up for an outright win.
Before giving a description of how the final moments of the race unfolded, I should pause at this point to mention the efforts of team McMeldrum from the Sunshine Coast. Team Explore looked to have third place in the bag at this point, with McMeldrum the only other team to have swept the course after Stage 3. With only a short time credit available, Paddy and Howie crept off to bed for a quick 15 minute power nap before the dark zone lifted on the kayak leg at 5:30am. Here, the story gets a little fuzzy as who was to blame, but the net result was that the boys over slept by an hour and were late getting onto the water.
So, heading back to the race for first place, team RUSH intelligently jumped on the wash of team SCAR/GAEC’s boat, keeping pace with them until they were dropped after punching in at an early check point. However, they were able to close the gap once again on the return run from CPs 46 and 47. A big dig by SCAR/GAEC saw them drop RUSH once again on the paddle. Then, critically at CP 40, team RUSH made the decision to take a risk and leave their boat to run to CP 52 while team SCAR elected to paddle it, a decision that would make or break the race at this point. Back at HQ, it was a matter of playing a waiting game as the tracking reception on the dam was poor and we were busy checking in teams from Stages 3 and 4. Finally, it was team SCAR/GAEC who came sprinting down the hill into HQ first. The watch was then started to see if they had done enough to close their 5 minute deficit. Another 13 minutes later, RUSH rolled into the HQ, taking second place by a mere 8 minutes after almost 19 hours of racing! Congratulations to Dave Schloss and Guy Andrews for a well fought win: 2013 Rogue24 champions. Thank you also to Russ Stringer and Shaun Lauder for such an exciting race and claiming second place for the fourth time in a row at the Rogue. Third place went to the consistent Paul Elby and Jamie Dougall from Team Explore, with Team McMeldrum the only other team to sweep the course.
In the mixed teams category, it was also a very close battle with the top 3 teams all making it into the top 10 overall, separated by the equivalent of only two check points. Ultimately, it was the Singaporean team, WanGoDo Edge Woodlanders coming out to improve on their second place last year with a win this year, with team Never Too Old and KILA Spin City Cycles in second and third respectively. In the womens team category, Team Choo Choo took out the win over We Just Met.
This year’s Rogue course was obviously shorter than a full 24hr rogaine, unfortunately removing much of the strategical decisions required by the fastest teams in a normal Rogue. However, the perfect racing conditions, clover-leaf format returning multiple times to HQ and the challenging yet achievable nature of the course saw most teams tackle every leg of the race on an adventure of their own choice.
A spreadsheet with the full 2013 Rogue Results for both the 8hr and 24hr teams is attached.
Live Website Blogging
Much of the action from the race has been well documented in the live website here. Trying to track the progress of teams in a rogaine format is a little tricky – just because a team has more CPs from a stage does not mean they are necessarily in the lead. A points/minute system may be more accurate, but a lot messier to interpret. None-the-less, we tried to get out as much information as possible about how the race was unfolding, despite being hampered by poor satellite reception at HQ. All reports were that it was well received by spectators at home.
Live GPS Tracking
This is the second time we have incorporated live GPS tracking into the Rogue. Again, it can be a bit of a puzzle trying to work out the rankings with the rogaine format, but used in conjunction with the scoreboard, it gives a good indication. Next year’s race (more on this below) is located in an area with much improved satellite reception, which should make tracking much more accurate if the system is available again and within our budget. Using the lessons from this year, I’ll also set up the mapping so all the alternate route choices available are more clear.
The live GPS tracking was followed by almost 1000 different individuals online from all over the country and as far away as Bavaria! Not only does the tracking let friends and family at home follow the action, but it also gives us an extra safety blanket for when teams have not turned back up at HQ when expected. In addition, the emergency signal option for teams in distress on the course is an added bonus, and was fortunately not required this year. A replay from the GPS trackers can be watched here.
Really, this is a section of the report that should come right up front, as without the help of a large, reliable and selfless group of volunteers, this race would not be a fraction of the quality that it was. In fact, it probably wouldn’t even get off the ground. As such, I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of each volunteer individually:
- Adam Power – Event co-organiser. Adam and his small team of mates made multiple trips out to the course, vetting all of the bike leg and bike tracks and hanging virtually every control. Not to be outdone, he then came out and helped at the race (he was at the boat drop location for the first kayak leg on the 24hr course), getting stuck with all the dirty, heavy, annoying jobs that I could find for him. Thanks Adam – I know we’ve had conversations about working on future courses together, and I’d be keen to follow up with those in 2015.
Rachelle McMahon and Julia Mezger – Caterers. These girls not only catered for two races on two separate days, but they did so selflessly to raise money for the charity SecondBite. Furthermore, along with their partners, they loaded and drove a trailer with all of the required gear from the rogaine shed up to the race.
- Derek McKinnon – Computer guru. Derek was responsible for managing the GPS tracker systems, updating the live blog and most importantly dealing with the Navlight electronic timing system in all of its inherent fickleness. I’m hoping he is available for next year’s race as a volunteer as the online reporting wouldn’t have been a fraction of what it was without his contribution.
- Todd and Kirsty Stafford – TAs and HQ. Todd and Kirsty were originally supposed to race, but when they no longer could, they offered to volunteer. They were first to the bike drop, manned it all day, transported gear boxes back to HQ and then offered to take shifts during the night to check competitors in and out. Todd is also a whiz with a spreadsheet, and between Derek and himself managed to stay on top of the live scoreboard.
- Janelle Schaffer – Boat drop. Janelle sat for 9 hours at the 8hr boat drop location while her husband was off racing.
- Amanda Koerber – Boat transport. Amanda from iAdventure have happily hired out their boats to us, making kayaking a possible discipline for the race. This involves a long drive from Port Macquarie, however she also backs up as our emergency first aider.
Kim Beckinsale, Jan Leverton, Kelsey Harvey, Thomas McPhail and Alex Bondarenko – control collection after the race. Hopefully all flags should be back in from within a week of the race ending.
- Wayne Smith – Randomly turning up and offering to help out when we were short on hands. Wayne, along with Adam, took many of the photos available on the team website.
- Paul Guard – Website administration.
- Sally Staton – Thank you for putting up with my obsession, being a sounding board for ideas and helping out when needed most.
- ARea51 and Ferno – Event sponsors providing some great kit as prizes.
A number of teams have written race reports which I’ve linked below. If you have a report, send it through and I’ll post it up.
- Team SCAR/GAEC (Guy Andrew) – race report here.
- Team Whoops Witch Way (Andrew Gills) – race report here.
- Team Choo Choo (Katy Kirby) – race report here.
- Team Green (Lindy and Dave) – race report here.
- Team WanGoDo Edge Woodlanders – race report here.
- Team Trail Geeks Red (Michael Schafer) – race report here.
- Team Explore (Paul Elby) – race report here.
- Team Mountain Designs (Gary Sutherland) – race report here.
- Team No Detour (Pierre Francois) – race report here.
- Team Therapy (Jon Gooding) – race report here.
A full collection of photos (more extensive than those on the team facebook page) can be found on the Rogue Adventure Picasa site here.
Finally, a big congratulations to all for taking on the Rogue and surviving. I know this race report has focused on the action up front on the leader board, but every team out there were on the go for almost 24 hours and I’m sure you all have some stories to tell.
So what’s the plan for future Rogue events? In 2014, Rogue will be hosting two races:
- Date: March 1st, 2014
- Location: TBA – one hour drive from Brisbane in an area all new to AR.
- Disciplines – Trekking, Mountain Biking, Kayaking and a few quirky activities to be revealed.
- Format: This will be a 3-6hr race focused on getting beginners into the sport. The organisation of this event is the initiative of Gordon Bossley and his team. If you know of friends or family interested in the sport, this will be the ideal event to get them into it, and will serve as a good lead up to bigger races like the Rogue24.
- Date: Long weekend of April 25th – 27th (Racing from 10am on Saturday).
- Location TBA – two hour drive from Brisbane in an area all new to AR.
- Disciplines – Trekking, Mountain Biking, Kayaking plus a number of other adventure disciplines (announcement to follow).
- Format: Traditional Rogue Adventuregaine format in a 24 hour race.
I’ve always tried to take the Rogue Adventuregaine to areas that are new to adventure racing in South East Queensland – there are a quite a surprising number of them. This was the case for the first 3 Rogue Adventuregaines. Even this year, although the 2007 Hells Bells 24hr was based out of Imbil, I thought the first paddle leg down Yabba Creek and the trekking to the north on private grazing property offered enough novelty and difference in the course to warrant holding a race there. After initial scouting trips on the 2014 course, I’m more excited about next year’s race than any other Rogue event to date. I can’t believe that an AR has never been held in this area. It offers up so much variety in terrain and the course possibilities are endless. The permitting process is still in the early stages, but initial indications are positive. Needless to say, I’m excited.
At this stage, given that there will be a Mini-Rogue in March, the event next year will be limited to just a 24hr race for 50 teams. A lot of this has to do with boat hire logistics, but I’m also aware that I want to put on the best race possible in regards to not only the course but online reporting. Holding just a 24hr race would also decrease the workload on volunteers, but we’ll see.
I’ve got a number of exciting plans for the 2014 race. The venue I’ve booked has shared cabin style accommodation for competitors included in the entry fee, and given that the Friday is a public holiday, there is the possibility of something special for the Friday night. Ideas extend all the way from an expedition race movie night (I’ve got about 20 different races in my collection to pick from) all the way through to an “AR conference” with guest speakers, sponsor displays, race director presentations and open panel discussion. Suggestions and input are welcome at this early planning stage.
Taking the experience from past races, I also want to improve on the online tracking and reporting of the race. There have been a number of interesting conversations floating around already in this respect. Also, the 2014 Rogue will have a number of other adventure disciplines other than the standard adventure racing fare of trek/paddle/bike. These are proper physical activities (no sudokus or crossword puzzles, I promise), including one which has never been done before in an Australian adventure race to the best of my knowledge. Just to give you a clue though – its water based. Ultimately I hope to set the kind of race that I would like to do myself: cheap, logistically easy, not gear intensive, strategic, scenic and challenging.
Anyway, enough talk and hype. All will be revealed once permits are finalized and entries open in the new year. Until then, thank you for your support of the race and I look forward to seeing you out on the trails.
Finally, I’ll leave you with some photos from a course setting trip for the 2014 race.