2016 Python 12 Hour Rogaine

Last weekend I met up with Dan Knabel – a friend from med school – for a 12 hour rogaine in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Special thanks to our wives for watching the kids all day.

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pre-race briefing

This was my 3rd rogaine of the year (Dan’s first ever). The map came in three pieces and was blown up to 1:12,500, with a lot more terrain detail than I’m accustomed to. Controls #1-19 were worth 10 points, #20-29 worth 20 points, etc. with a maximum control value of 60 points. (There was also a bonus control worth 60 points to be found via a map attached to an unknown control. Sadly we never found this). Maps were distributed a little after 0700, and the race began at 0800.

Dan and I decided to begin by heading eastward toward the large plateau feature surrounded by cliffs. We would then circle back around toward the corn maze in the map’s southwest corner, make our way north to the other river crossing, then re-evaluate where we were based on time.

Our route in blue (click to enlarge)

Our final route in blue (click to enlarge)

From the starting area, we quickly hit controls #47 and #16 to the east. We then headed toward #17, which we somehow managed to miss completely. We gave up on it after 5 minutes of searching (since it was worth a mere 10 points)…but this ended up being the only control of the day that we failed to find. As we were leaving, we ran into another guy who couldn’t find #17, so at least it wasn’t just us.

Dan bagging #38

Dan bagging #38

We then headed east to #28 and #38, which we found with no issues. We had decided to abandon the southeast corner of the map, since the density of controls was a little more sparse than in other areas. We did however grab #67, #58, and #18 (120 points!) as we moved back to the west. This section was a little brushy in places, but briars were few and far between, and we made very good time.

We mostly followed the road for the next few hours, taking a few short side-trips into the forest along the way to hit #24, #8, #4, #35, #23, #49, #2, #51, #3, and #50 on our way to the corn maze at #60.

Dan navigating the underbrush near #49

Dan navigating the underbrush near #49

Our biggest hiccup of the day came as we were approaching #51. We apparently overestimated the distance we needed to travel before turning downhill, and overshot the target. This normally wouldn’t be a huge problem, but this had taken us off the edge of the map…and we didn’t realize until far too late that were were hunting for #51 on the wrong hillside. By the time we realized the mistake and backtracked, we had wasted at least 35 minutes.

Things went smoothly after that, though. We walked past a few goats after leaving #3, and found #50 underneath a solar panel.

Control #50

Control #50

The next control, #60, was hidden in a large 3-acre corn maze at the Szalay farmer’s market. We were in & out in about 6-7 minutes.

Terrain key (above) and corn maze map (below)

Terrain key (above) and corn maze map (below)

Entering the corn maze

Entering the corn maze

Control #60

Control #60

We took advantage of the farmer’s market to stock up on apple cider and chocolate covered caramels, which was a solid investment. We then followed the road north toward the western-most section of the map. This was another area with lower control density, so rather than going for all the controls, we only went for the low hanging fruit near the road – #52, #31, #32, #53, and #1. None of these posed much challenge. We then made a quick loop to grab #62, #42, and #33 before crossing back over the Cuyahoga River.

View to the east of #62

View to the east of #62

After briefly over-shooting #54, we made a quick and efficient northward loop of #34, #63, #55, #64, and #44. At this point we stopped for a few minutes to consider our options. There were 3 hours 30 minutes left in the race, and we were torn between continuing toward the northeastern corner of the map, or retreating back toward the start/finish area and picking off the numerous low-value controls down near the lakes. We decided to go for the higher-value controls to the northeast, which I think was the right choice. It only took 20 minutes or so to grab #43, #12, and #26, then we made quick time walking along the road. A mix of on-trail and off-trail hiking connected #45, #65, #56, #39, and #29. Given our time constraints, we bypassed the low-value #19 and instead made a detour to pick up #57.

Power line between #55 and #64

Power line between #55 and #64

Unfortunately, there hadn’t been any water remaining at the last two water stops (at controls #39 and #33)…so we were both pretty dehydrated and rationing the small amount of water we had left.

Dan scrambling up a hill

Dan scrambling up a hill

It was starting to get dark at this point, so we slapped on the headlamps and made our way back down the road toward the boy scout camp. In hindsight, a more direct off-trail route would have taken us to #46>#27>15>14>13. Instead we took a longer, more round-about route via the road, netting 40 fewer points and hitting controls #14, #15, #27, and #13. There were 36 minutes left in the race at this point, so we hobbled as quickly as possible back to the finish area.

We finished with 12 minutes to spare. Final score was 1490 out of 2190 total possible points. Final rank was 15th out of 31. Approximate total distance of 29 miles (estimated from the phone GPS buried in Dan’s pack, which died after ~10.5 hours).

standings

Overall it was a terrific event. Would highly recommend. And if anyone reading this knows where the bonus control was hidden, leave a comment! I’m still curious.

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Published in: on October 11, 2016 at 8:21 pm  Comments (3)  

Sleepy Hollow Rogaine 2014

Dad and I recently met up in southern Ohio to compete in the Sleepy Hollow 12-hour rogaine. It was Dad’s first rogaine, and my third. A perfectly named sport for a bald guy and a soon-to-be-bald guy.

Pre-race briefing

Pre-race briefing

We picked up the maps around 8:00 am, and spent a couple hours plotting our route. After looking at a few different options, we decided to start the day with a long northern loop followed by a smaller southern loop. The event started at 10:00 am and ended at 10:00 pm, giving us about 7.5 hours of daylight and 4.5 hours of night navigation.

10:00 am start

10:00 am start

From the start area, we jogged southwest down a road and around Stewart Lake to control #31. So nine minutes into the rogaine, we already had 30 points (point value for each control = first digit x 10). From there, we continued southwest up a steep hill, then jogged west down another road in the direction of #83. This was the first of two controls throughout the day that gave us trouble. We wasted 5-10 minutes exploring a handful of small re-entrants before finally spotting the orange flag further north than we’d expected. We continued north up another road, before veering off into the woods and descending a large hill toward #43.

Control #43

Control #43

Exactly one hour had passed when we reached control #43. Despite the minor setback, we were making pretty good progress. We hiked/jogged another mile or so north on the road, then cut through the woods to grab #33 and #64. This was followed by a 300 ft uphill climb and a short break for food and water.

Approaching control #64

Approaching control #64

Controls #30 and #40 were only a short distance off the trail, so we knocked them out in no time. Unfortunately, Dad twisted his knee pretty badly right as we were approached #40. He had a painful looking limp, and it was only 12:25 pm…so I honestly wasn’t very optimistic about our chances of finishing the full 12 hours. Dad gritted it out for another 10 hours, though, and it actually didn’t even slow our pace too much. (For reference, this is the guy who once stitched up a gash in his eyebrow – in the bathroom mirror – without lidocaine – so we wouldn’t have to be late for one of my middle school basketball games.)

Near control #80

Near control #80

From control #40, we headed north to make a several-mile loop of controls #50, #70, #80, and #60. The navigation went smoothly, but we did lose a little time tangled up in a nasty thicket of thorn-bushes.

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Matt at control #54 (center-left)

We next decided to make a long, sweeping loop of controls #73, #54, #32, #84, and #53. We probably could have gotten a few more points by continuing southward from control #32, but our route allowed us to stop back by the start/finish area for a food break. It also allowed us to say that we completely swept the northern half of the course. A no-brainer, really. The sun began to set shortly after leaving #32, and we were in complete darkness by the time we stumbled back onto the Buckeye Trail after bagging #84.

Overlook near control #84

Overlook near control #84

We followed trails and roads for a little over a mile before cutting back into the woods for #53. This turned out to be the second control of the day to give us trouble. We knew that the flag would be posted in a re-entrant…but unfortunately, there were at least 6 or 7 re-entrants clustered together on the same slope. We spent at least 15-20 minutes crashing through thorns and underbrush, working our way up and down each re-entrant. Finally I caught a reflection with my headlamp, and we punched in at #53 at 6:40 pm.

Control #56

Control #56

We took a 20 minute break at the start/finish area for some hot chili & potato soup, then set off again for another 2.5-hour loop. This took us in a southward direction and netted us another 190 points (controls #44, #65, #56, and #41). Luckily we didn’t get lost in the dark.

Our last control of the day: #41

Our last control of the day: #41

We made it back to the start/finish area at 9:42 pm with a total of 1040 points. Our team (“The Donner Party”) finished 8th place out of 18 teams. Including the solo competitors, we finished 12th place out of 28 overall. [link to results]

I’d estimate that we covered somewhere between 24-28 miles, with maybe 5000-6000 feet of elevation change. About 70% roads/trails and 30% bushwhacking.

Our route

Our route

It was a great rogaine, and a great course. Definitely hoping to do it again next year…maybe when I’m not coming off a 30 hour shift in the hospital.

Published in: on November 16, 2014 at 7:39 pm  Comments (2)