Multisports: Roaming in Riverhead rogaine not for turkeys

By Peter Thornton

Around 300 athletes of all abilities are heading to West Auckland this weekend to battle in the Lactic Turkey Rogaine in Riverhead.

This is the fourth Riverhead Rogaine but the company has been organising rogaines in West Auckland for the past decade.

"These events are always fun and have quite a following dating back more than 10 years to our regular Piha Rogaine in the Waitakere Ranges," said Shaun Collins, the 38-year-old event director.

The rogaines at their peak attracted a whopping 450 people until the Kauri dieback in 2009 prevented the organisers from having events of this size in the Waitakeres.

Since then (2009) Lactic Turkey has run rogaines in Riverhead and various private farms.

Rogaine is the sport of long distance cross-country navigation in which teams of two to five members visit as many checkpoints as possible within a given time limit. Traditionally rogaine is a 24-hour event but there are many short variations.

The Lactic Turkey event offers options of either a 1.5-hour or a four-hour event for teams of two to five.

The terrain is a mix of gravel road, single track through mature forest, muddy trails and a little bit of no trail where athletes of all abilities are running through the pine forests.

Collins explains how it works.

"The object is to get as many checkpoints in the time allowed," he said. "So in the planning time [one hour] you have to decide if you will go far away from the event centre to get a few of the high pointers or stay closer and get lots of lower points.

"The catch is that you have to plan to be back on time, because for every minute that you're late after the 1.5 or 4 hours you lose 20 points and if you are more than half an hour late you get 'timed out'.

"You may find that you change from your planned route as you go because the tracks are faster than you thought - that's fine, you don't have to stick to your original plan. And you can come back to the event centre as often as you like.

"So the whole gist of a rogaine is working out how far the team can run or walk in the time limit and which is the best way to go in order to score the most points."

Cath Heppelthewaite, a consultant with a sporting background of mountain biking and some off-road running, loves the strategy involved in the rogaines.

"It's all about making the most of the four hours you have available," said Heppelthewaite.

"Everyone can complete the course at their own speed and you get to set, and revise, your own goals as you go. You go as fast as you can go on the day. It's great fun."

She said there was always a special atmosphere after the race where having a beer together is as important as the competition.

"There is always a great sense of camaraderie with Shaun's events and a good range of people, from families to some more serious adventurers."

Collins is a good man to run the rogaines. He has run for as long as he can remember. He started as runner, and went on to become a New Zealand orienteering rep, then 24-hour adventure races and now is into ultra-trail running.

For people looking to add some variety to their running training rogaines are perfect.

"That is what people say after they try it for the first time. It's trail running but you're not mindlessly running. You have to think the whole way and make decisions. It makes it really interesting."

Allow time for planning

What advice do you offer for newcomers to the rogaine?
Shaun Collins: I would advise getting to the event early to allow some planning time. We open registration an hour before the start and this is when the maps are handed out and the frenzy of route planning starts. If you haven't done this type of thing before ask us for help. A quick rundown from someone that knows what they're doing can make it all the more enjoyable.We provide some black and white copies of the purpose-drawn map for planning.

I would recommend bringing some coloured highlighters along and highlighting the checkpoints different colours so you can easily see where all the high scoring checkpoints are. So colour yellow all the 100 pointers, 80 pointers and 70s maybe and this will quickly show you where good sections of the map are to head and earn lots of points.

Plan some cut-off routes in case you planned route is a little optimistic and this allows you a quick escape back to the finish if time starts to run out.

Cath Heppelthewaite: Give it a go. There will be help available for first timers at the start and its fun to explore somewhere new right at Auckland's doorstep.

- NZ Herald

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