The climbers of this blog are relatively impressed by a 2 hour run, this post is about real mountain running. This weekend was a real test of the limits. As we were competing in this event, we realised what a stupendous sport we had got ourselves in to …
… fancy trying 24 normal orienteering events in one go, nonstop
… fancy running a mountain marathon, without stopping at the end of the day and without sleep
… fancy orienteering right through the night…
“Rogaining” as wikipedia states is “the sport of long distance cross-country navigation. Championship Rogaines are 24 hours long”. In other words, collect as many controls as possible, in any order, in 24 hours!
Last year we did this event, but we slept in the middle of it – last year we decided that this was our downfall as we ached too much in the morning to continue properly … so this year … we had decided not to sleep!
The Rogaine started from Coronation Plantation, near Sally Gap in the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland at 12 noon on Saturday. We marked our map and set out, planning the route to make the navigation in the night section of the race as easy as possible. Our chosen route took us east towards Powerscourt and then north into the Glencree river valley. Here we managed to get to an outside wedding just in time to hear the vows and slightly later we happened to enter an area being used for another orienteering event! I think the latter must be a world first! We headed over a hill and into the Glencullen Valley, where we stopped in a very irish pub for a pint of coke and a bag of bacon fries (at the outrageous cost of 15 euros!). We were losing light about this time, so quickly we scaled the next hill and ate half a quiche at the summit to prepare us for the long dark night. It was about 10.00 pm by this time and we felt surprisingly good. We wondered whether this was down to the Skins tights we were wearing (they are compression tights which are meant to help muscles work for longer) … Anyway we ran down the lovely ridge of this mountain with the sun setting and soon we were on a road. Great for easy navigation! After some time, we headed into a forest to collect a few more controls. This was surprisingly easy and so we headed off again on-road, the next off-road section was probably the worst part of the whole 24 hrs however! We started off through a lovely grassy field, which unfortunately developed into one massive thorn bush field. It was quite a slope and so we didn’t want to head back up and so we tried to find a route through the bushes. Things started to look up and we thought we could see the road, but then in front of us we realised that there was a ditch filled with thorn bushes and more on the other side. With the road about 10 m away, I took my caving instinct and went underneath. This was not nice and at one point I was sliding into a stream (of unknown depth)with thorn bush completely surrounding me. Needless to say, we made it and when we got onto the road we realised that we had been pretty lucky as around us the bush had been much much denser. We continued, through a cemetry, by a lake, on a long road, up a long hill, over dark farm tracks, through forestry workings and back onto roads…It was still dark and after a section on the road of about 25 minutes we got to a bridge … that was closed … and only half present. So we walked all the way back along the road we’d just walked over … 🙁
Getting our act together again we started into another forest to collect 4 more controls as the light returned! We still feeling pretty good at this point too … even as we came out of the forest, the peat bogs didn’t deter us! by this time we had done a complete circuit and had arrived back at the camp to get some more food – this is allowed! We had a pot noodle and a cup of tea and with 20 mins rest we started out again over the hills for the last 3 hours of effort. By now, I was feeling quite tired and the ground on the other side of the camp was much more difficult with long grass all bent over in the opposite direction to our travel! The way back was even worse as the tussocks started – not good on tired legs!
We arrived back at camp with about 45 mins spare – it was not quite enough to do anything with and we were tired. We were so pleased to have kept going for so long however… we really didn’t stop except for tying shoe laces, scoffing a quiche, drinking a pint of coke and during the 20 mins break at the camp.
We measured the route … 57 miles! Amazing! We came 2nd mixed team – the other mixed team were quite amazing – although they had known that the bridge was passable if you had dared to walk to the end of it and looked down at a dam wall 3 m below!
We think our eating plan worked really well – eat every 2 hours and eat jelly babies in between. I also think that the Skins tights helped enormously!
Following the Rogaine, Richard and I headed off to Clare and visited the Cliffs of Moher and some neolithic sites on the Burren.