The Run the Gauntlet 24h Rogaine was held at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick on September 18-19. The ARIO
site has a great report from John Ranson -- ARIO reports are members-only, but thanks to Mike at SynergyAT
they're reprinted here:
Run the Gauntlet (CFB Gagetown, NB) – 24hr Rogaine – Sept 18-19
Team Members: Mike Cullen, John Ranson
With RTN Champs being cancelled, I needed a replacement race. Mike was looking for a teammate for a 24hr Rogaine out near Fredericton and it was a type of race that I have always wanted to do. They say that in Adventure Racing, if you are not doing an Adventure race, a 24hr Rogaine is the next best thing for experience and it totally proved to be that.
Mike and I left for Ottawa at 1:30 Friday afternoon and arrived in CFB Gagetown 1:30 Saturday morning (NB time). We set up the tent and got about 5hrs of sleep before the sound of the rain woke us. The race was schedule to start at noon, with registration, maps and briefing happening between 7 and 11. The weather for the day wasn’t looking promising, as it was one of those steady rains that never would go away. However, I always go back to the golf saying ‘If it rains before 7, it will be bright at 11’, NOT.
After looking at the map there were 50 checkpoints in 4 main quadrants. Our decision was to do the quadrants counter clockwise in one big loop. The high point controls were in the second quadrant that we were planning to do and we were hoping to do this section in the daylight. High point controls are considered difficult based on distance from home base, topography, the amount of bushwhacking and precision navigation.
We headed out in the rain at noon. There where 45 five teams dong either the 8hr or 24hr race, 13 in the competitive 24hr which we were in. We started hitting checkpoints and were pleased with our progress. Mike had already done three 24hr rogaines this year so it was a good experience to learn from his experience. We each had maps and it allowed us to both navigate. We worked well together, found some tough checkpoints and were pretty pumped heading into the tough section. 6 hours went by and we were finished the first quadrant, we had a 10 minute stop at a safety tent which scouts were tending, keeping a fire going and having hot chocolate ready for the racers.
The course had a big mix of terrain, elevation, mature and old freshly cut forests and lots of streams turned into larger streams with all the rain. And yes the rain was still coming down. I had an icebreaker wool shirt on and my Gortex paclight jacket. With the sweating and the wet woods we were soaked through. It wasn’t pleasant; we knew we had to keep a good pace to keep from shivering. Water and food intake was paramount to stay warm.
At 6pm we knew we wouldn’t finish the second quadrant in daylight. Regardless, we wanted the challenge and ventured out to the furthest point of the course, roughly 18km from home base. We got the first two by about 9. We spent some time on one of them by approaching it from a bad point, ending up in swamp and losing the precision in bearing we needed. Some added excitement was Mike just about walked into a bear. Mike was hiking down a trail with his head down as I saw the bear jump out of the woods. I thought Mike saw it but he wasn’t looking up. I shouted ‘Mike’ and he stopped in his tracks. As usual, a bear just needs to hear the sound of humans and they run away, pretty cool. However, I have seen bears move and I would gladly be happy with not ever meeting a bear out in the open like that again.
It was 10pm and the rain was FINELY starting to stop. Whatever! We were never going to get dry with the wet woods. We starting to climb to the highest point of the course and the wind was picking up. We had a 1 ½ km bushwhack climb to the hilltop. It was tough to know at night if we are at the highest point. Finding hilltops during the day versus night are exact opposites in difficulty. We were pretty confident with our pacing and our location once we got to the top. Within about 5 minutes we found the control. 800 points! It was a great feeling. Adventure Race organizer need to learn from orienteering races for unmanned checkpoints. You always hear about problems in finding unmanned checkpoints because of the lack of visibility of what you are looking for. Orienteer controls work so well in day and at night.
We were feeling good as we headed down the other side too get the last three 700 point controls. We navigated perfect for this quadrant, with the exception of tacking a chance on finding a trail and instead doing a 1km bushwhack. However, never as well as if it was daylight. We had a 6km hike back to start the 3rd quadrant. Coyote howls kept us company through the hike. It was about 3am and it started getting really cold. When it stopped raining I put on my extra wool icebreaker and toque and the cold was manageable. However, whenever I stopped I would start to shiver. This was the case all night. Mike ‘the furnace’ Cullen was unbelievable. I thought cold was my strength, Mike seemed to be fine. He was just battling the sleep monsters, my singing didn’t seem to help. We made it to the safety point at 6am, 12hours to do the toughest quadrant – only 6 controls but 3500 points! It was 18hrs non-stop, we were beat-up and major chaffing was happening. I thought chaffing only happened in heat, so I wasn’t doing prevention in the way of body glide, talcum powder and cleaning. Those pine needles got everywhere, especially when you just continue to get soaked through. We stopped and had another hot chocolate and made the hike 10km back. Time didn’t allow us to get many more checkpoint as we needed to get back by 12 and if you got back by 11 you would get a point bonus. We arrived at 10:30, legs felt like cement, dieing for a hot shower and sleep. In the end, only 4 teams attempted the difficult quadrant, we were the only ones doing it at night (crazy Adventure Racers) and at least two of them didn’t get them all. We finished 5th and knew would have had a higher point total if we skipped the tough quadrant. We were pretty happy. It was one of the toughest nights I have ever experienced in endurance racing, never thought I could be shivering just about all night and still manage. The navigation practice was awesome. I recommend this to all Adventure Racers. Thanks Mike for asking me to do the race. Look forward to the next one; let’s just try to get better weather next time.