Welcome to the first edition of the ACTRA Almanac, where experienced rogainers try to impart some knowledge on particular topics for the newer rogainers among us! As this is a new addition, please let us know if you have any thoughts on whether these volumes are useful or any particular topics you want us to focus on! The first submission is from Brad Vallette focusing on demystifying the route planning process.
I remember when I first started that the most stressful part of the whole rogaine for me was before the start. Too many times I’d be staring at all the numbered circles with no idea how or where to start. Over the years I’ve developed a series of steps that help me simplify my route planning. I’ll use the below extract from the recent day/night event as an example and hopefully you get something out of it!
1. First thing I do is group the controls into colour-coded groups based on their point value e.g. green: 20-40, yellow: 50-60, pink: 70-80 and orange: 90-100. Use highlighter so you can still see the map through the ink!
2. Next I’ll divide the course into sections. Natural boundaries such as escarpments, rivers and roads are really good for dividing up the controls. In this case I’ve used the river as a boundary and grouped up the controls higher up the slopes, and those down in the valley.
3. Next I work out the average points per control in each section – add up the point values and divide by the number of controls.
4. Now I can work out where is worth going, noting that the area to the west has the highest value per control, I will definitely be going there. I try and go for the highest value areas towards the start to bank points early. Given the central and eastern areas are pretty similar in value, but the eastern section is much steeper and probably more thick, I would probably choose to avoid that area. So now I know I’m focusing on the western and central sections.
5. Next is to work out the order to get the controls in. From the HH, I would head straight to 100 to bank those points, then work my way back to 32 (avoid crossing the river). 21, 42 and 34 can all probably be collected on the way back so we can maximise our time in the high scoring region. That way, if we are running short on time coming back, we can just head straight back and we are only dropping low scoring points rather than the higher scoring ones to the west. The arrows show a potential sequence I may plan to do collect the controls in.
6. Once I have a route, I will normally calculate a rough distance to collect all the controls I plan to collect. I can then use the distance to work out whether I can cover the whole thing based on my average moving speed – this part takes experience as your moving speed will change based on the terrain and your confidence level. I can then write projected times at certain controls to act as markers. If I am at this control after this time, then I may need to readjust my plan, if we’re ahead of time, then we may need to plan to get more. The latter is more annoying so I try and over-plan at the start because its easier to cut controls rather then adding more controls. The times I’ve done here are based on a 3 hour rogaine.
Now its important to know that even the best laid plans are not perfect and you will need to deviate from your plan at some point, whether that be due to lack of time, scrub being to thick etc. The purpose of the planning process is just to minimize the thinking your tired brain will have to do on course. These steps wont work for everyone and should not be taken as doctrine, but are based on my personal experience. Hopefully this helps you in future and I hope to see you out there!