Last week myself, Mitch and Dave drove down to the NZ rogaine champs in the Nevis Valley. For me it was the third trip down to central in about 6 weeks! Its always a struggle to fit all the driving, work and then the actual event into a normal two day weekend so it was almost midnight by the time we arrived in the Valley and woke half of the campsite up pitching our tent. No sooner than we went to sleep were we up again for the race the next morning.
The morning was relatively relaxed, Mitch and Dave sorted out breakfast while I planned our route. 11am rolled around and we were underway. We opted to go Anti-clockwise around the map and it looked quite feasible to collect all the controls on the map. There was a couple of other teams also thinking it was possible but it appeared that they had decided to move in a clockwise direction to sweep them all up.
The first few hours we were treated to quite mild weather, not too hot and not too sunny and not cold either. We made good progress quickly and we were all feeling pretty good. Slowly the weather rolled in and there was a bit of rain that came right as we reached the tops. It was jacket time! After a quick pause to get sorted Dave was starting to go through a rough patch and struggling to keep up on the uphills so it was time for the tow rope to come out too. This worked wonders, it wasn’t tight but it acted as a physical connection to keep us together.
The day had come and gone and it was heading into the evening, unfortunately the rain was getting harder and I was pretty much soaked wet. We entered an interesting gorge to collect a control and as we emerged the rain began to ease and then stop completely. As the sun went down we were treated to some pretty spectacular scenery, especially with the low angle sun. We made the most of the last bit of light and pushed quite hard down the hill into a control which we figured was about halfway.
At the control we spotted Greig and Georgia which was a welcome sight as we could gauge a little bit as to where exactly we were sitting in terms of placings. They on the other hand didn’t look all that pleased to see us! We ran on with boosted spirits as it appeared we might not be out all night. There was a big climb in front of us now through the tussock to a tricky control, but we had a good view of where we needed to go just as the light was fading. Almost at the control we had to stop for a water fill up and it seemed sensible to combine this with a headlamp stop too. Once on the move again I wandered up a little further and all of a sudden this huge light was beaming down on me. I shielded my eyes only to look up again and see the Full moon right there in the clear night sky!
It was now fully dark and we were due a little break, so at the Old Woman range hut we stopped. We didn’t go inside and bother the party goers in the hut, and just chilled out on the deck instead. Stopping was both good and bad, I think we lost a little momentum by stopping here, but it was nice to take the pressure off the feet for a little bit as mine were now starting to hurt. The wind got me quite agitated at this point too and I went into grumpy mode for about an hour. Luckily we were able to grind our way out of it and the wind died a bit. some last minute changes were made to our route to make thing more efficient, but unfortunately this meant a little bit more climb on both sides of the road.
It felt quite late when it got to midnight, I was quite surprised it was only midnight! But since we had committed to getting all the controls we had to go and get the most difficult 30 pointer we could right at about the time in the night were everyone is at their worst. We overshot the control, following the gully down further than we needed too and then it took about 30mins to actually pin point the control. Also as we had changed the route, this was almost just an out and back control… but some miscommunication between us meant that we ended up with even extra climb.
Right up until we had collected the next 2 controls we were all in various states of annoyance and suffering and tiredness. Mitch was in fact falling asleep while walking along the road! Another couple of hours and the sun was making its way back up. Its always a little rejuvenating when it gets light again and the sun its self is very comforting having wandered through the darkness at night. We were now on the home stretch… but it was now becoming clearer how closer we were going to be to get all the controls.
We had to make a cold early morning crossing of the Nevis and then a cross back before we had a good handle on where we were around the course. Knowing this and now we were traveling fast again I still thought it was touch and go but we could probably make it. A little burst of speed over about 20mins or so was a bit much for Dave in particular and then the full course was off again. We continued along right up until the 1:10 to go mark before we had to make a decision and pull the pin on the full course by dropping an 80 pointer. In hind sight we should have got the 80 and ditched the equally difficult 20 on offer at the very end but it didn’t occur to us at the time as we were so focused on trying to get them all…and any dropped control was a failure.
The dropping of the control lead to a false sense of plenty of time to spare, but it quickly crept up on us and forced us into needing to run quite steadily into the finish. We got there in the end with about 7 mins to spare! It was so good to take some weight off my feet! Chris and Tim finished the whole course with about 2 hours to spare and Greig and Georgia 1 hour to spare. We slotted into 3rd place with our one dropped control, just ahead of Marty and Matt who appeared to have lost the will to live a bit out there during the night. A good solid effort for us, I was, and I think Dave and Mitch too, a little disapointed we were so close to clearing the course but just not quite making it as I think we could have done it had we not wasted a bit of time here and there on the course. Always a tricky game and lots to learn for next time!