By Athlete Ambassador, Brad Jennings
Mid-January, I headed to Southern Indiana for some multi-day rogaining action with Ripkin AR team mate, Jessica Kuepfer, along with two AR newbie’s, Jonathan and Peter. For those unfamiliar with the sport, a rogaine (not the drug!) is a navigation based endurance race where competitors travel on and off trail to a series of checkpoints using only map and compass. Whereas pure adventure racing (not to be confused with obstacle racing) involves multiple disciplines usually encompassing paddling, trekking, mountain biking, ropes and navigation, a rogaine is usually limited to one discipline; orienteering.
With a time limit of 48hrs, POCAR promised to deliver a multi-day AR-esque experience early in the season and an added challenge of racing through harsh winter conditions. As soon as we received our maps, we plotted a route and took off into the woods. Throughout much of the day we kept a quick running pace and nabbed checkpoints in quick succession. Things began to go awry in the middle of the night, as they often do in adventure races. A misplaced checkpoint had our team searching the bush in vain for over an hour. Race staff finally arrived and told us the checkpoint was missing and we could continue without penalty. However, it was nearly impossible to take a correct bearing to the next checkpoint in the dark without the guidance of the previous point.
As lead navigator, you face the added stress of ensuring your team is on the correct path. When you’re moving quickly through the bush, it can be hard to decipher key land features, especially at night. Luckily, I had an excellent co-navigator in the form of Jonathan, who I could bounce off route ideas and position estimates.
After spending the darkest and coldest hours of the night lost and attempting g to triangulate our position, we eventually gave up and took a safety bearing to a road. Piecing together a backup plan, we proceeded to tackle our route in reverse. However, the damage was done, both physically and mentally. Our team slogged on in the early hours of the morning, eventually making our way to the finish. All was not lost and we were soon overjoyed to learn that after 28hrs and 120km, we had placed 4th in a field of close to 40 teams! A fine ending to a great season opener, things can only improve from here!