The only and I really mean THE ONLY reason Robert and I wanted to go to the Czech Republic was because we thought we could win the Vet Mens title. So to go, do it right and get 2nd was a very satisfying result.
Strengths/Weaknesses – All teams have pro’s and cons. It’s well noted that we’re better runners than navigators. So a forest based course is potentially intimidating, but so is a flat fast European style course. We felt that 130km would be our limit. I don’t say that just to tie in with the story below, it’s what we truly believed.
Wednesday – arrived in Rudne (pronounced Ruud Nah) and prolific sledging from the juniors Tim Farrant and JJ Wilson began. To be fair they (especially Tim) had a superior record over us. In fact I have only ever beaten Tim once. The 2010 worlds. So we copped it, gave plenty back and went out to the practice course at Horni Blatna. We gained the upper hand them collecting more controls, although they sat laughing at the last one as we flailed in the forest 50m away on the wrong stream junction. Temperatures were terrifyingly high.
Thursday – rest, shopping, food prep, banter and then it pissed down with rain.
Friday – 9:30am map handout and it was game face. The map is 300sq/km approximately 22km long and 13km wide and had 69 controls. Several teams were laughed at when asking about the ability of the scoring chips to hold only 64 controls. Robert drew a quick loop collecting everything, it was 160km. I geeked out and did some tallies and things then drew a straight line course of 110km and collecting all 10 90 pointers and all 80 pointers. Robert drew a more accurate 130km collecting almost all the same points in a similar order. So we refined his loop. Everyone knows you’re going to drop points. We got so close to getting it right. Planned route was 51 controls? and 3350 of a maximum 4400? points
Midday – It's cold for most people and tehy're wrapped up in jackets, pants gloves and beanies. Robert and I are shirt sleeves and shorts. The weather is as good as we could ever hope for. 10-15 degrees, overcast and damp. It really couldn't have been more suited to us.
Gun goes and 234 of the 333 teams set off NW towards #80, we arrive to find only 1 punch, a queue and we were near the front with Tim/JJ (33/34th). We punched in 16 minutes, the last team punched in 40!!!!!! We then took an alternative line out to 66 to get away from everyone and were on our way proper cleanly picking up controls on a regular basis.
The course itself was a mixture of some steep climbs, forestry and numerous connecting roads, tracks and rides which we'd probably refer to as fire breaks. Most were marked, some weren't. Some were clear and distinct, others invisible. There were a lot of very long road/track running sections with no skill required followed by short direct navigation. This was to suit us perfectly in the end.
We started out conservatively wanting to make sure that we had plenty at night and for a strong push in the morning. Other teams went out hard, fast and crashed while others went hard, fast and hung on. The first plot below shows the placings of the final 5 vet mens teams as they picked up controls throughout the day. You can see clearly that our relative position improved markedly as the sun went down and we kept going.
I haven’t gone into the result to far to find out what happened to the many teams placed between 3rd and 15th early in the day to see what happened to them. Nor am I concerned. Their strategy was wrong. What’s interesting in the plot is that for the last 4 hours 3 of us were battling, control by control in separate parts of the course for the lead.
In terms of the points scored, we lost a lot of ground early. We didn’t know that, know one does, we were just happy with how the controls were ticking along. Our goal was to make no mistakes. If we were successful with that we knew we’d have a good score. So that’s what we did.
Of course there were minor errors along the way but we collected every control we attacked and only lost small amounts of time at 2 or 3 of them. Unfortunately one of those small errors came at what ended up being our last control, #81, a small stream, ditch junction that I messed up the entry to. I got pushed too low by scrub and we couldn’t find the correct junction for 15 minutes. This cost us a chance to have an attempt at 76. Looking at the splits of other teams it may have been worth an attempt but would have been touch an go to finish.
Physically – we went out at a consistant pace, but as the day wore on I fatigued a bit and felt I was pushing harder than I’d like which upset my guts a bit. I’d also had a sore arse and the odd show issue, nothing major but it chewed a minute here and a minute there. I kept eating, kept reminding Rob to ease up a bit, put on a jacket and came right again. About this time, maybe 1am or midnight. Rob started having real foot problems. By the end of the day all I can say is that he must be one hell of a hard bastard because there was no complaining and his feet were trashed.
Add to that his shin kept stopping him from running and needed attention every so often. Again, looking at the individual section splits we lost no more time than anyone else. With all that was going on we kept ticking off the controls faster than most teams.
So what does that mean. The slope of the Blue Line is Us is the rate at which we slowed down which is less than the Green Line, Makinen and Oja. I think some form of smoothing curve or spline would look better, but can’t be bothered coding it. Our two biggies were just the way the course was. the First from 79 to 69 involved a longish, steep decent and then climb to the highest point on the map, 1018m of the Auersburg in Germany. It seemed epically long and that we may have made an error. We didn’t we were 5th of 39 teams to go in that direction, 5 teams took over two hours. 16 teams did it in the other direction where, with a longer decent and shorter climb it was 10 minutes faster.
For those that like to know about food and fluids. I had something solid like a piece of Salami and Camembert Roll, or Apple Strudel or Custard Donut every hour on the hour. I had a couple of jelly lollies on every 1/2 hour. Fluids, I had a 1.5L bladder, Robert a 3L, we filled at ~5:30pm, ~1am and 8:30am each time both of us had 2-500ml remaining. So I had around 4-5L for the 24 hours and Robert around 10-11L. Tim Farrant on the other hand had closer to 18L !!!!!
In the end the only numbers that count were 8th and 2nd. We’re happy except both of us picked up a spewing and pooing bug and everyone at work reckons I could do with a few pies. They’re correct.
Cheers and Thanks
Matt (and Robert)
We had a massive shouting match and argument around 9pm. It cleared the air, helped us focus and made for a very successful night.
Chris Fornes' only weakness is his team-mate. He would almost certainly have required a 2nd sport ident card and would have won.
White Lycra is awesome, but only if you finish on the podium.
Nathan Fa'avae said I'd get lost. He's wrong. He should stick to things he's could at which is pretty much everything.
Greig Hamilton would have been pissed off with the lack of navigation and amount of genuine road running required on the course. It certainly didn't fit well for Tim and JJ.
I still hate Prague
Ed and Terry from Highland Events did a great job, we had a fantastic weekend away and as promised to a number of people, I killed an Australian.
As with all rogaines and runs we go on, looking at the potential weather forecast begins about 10 days out. Which is not an efficient use of time with the vagaries of our weather. Still, most of us do it and we go through a regular roller coaster of panic, fear and excitement. Central Otago decided to turn on a stunner, plus Fog, Rain and Snow.
4am is not the normal time to get up in our house but the kids popped out of bed very quickly and were ready to go without any prodding 30 minutes later. Ann and I were marginally slower to get sorted but it was enough to get a coffee on board for me. We chose the Middlemarch route to get to Cromwell and I quickly regretted that with fog rolling in from just past Outram until somewhere past Ranfurly. I shouldn’t have worried though it was the same on the southern route.
Arrived at 7:45 and maps were out at 8am leaving a scant 45 minutes to look, scribble, draw and plan a route for 12 hours. It was either, start left and collect it all or start right and collect it all. I chose left and took a punt that a clean sweep wasn’t possible even though Terry had hinted 60k would be enough to get us to Cromwell for a coffee. Turns out 60k would get a comfortable win and leave a lot of controls out there. See Greig Hamilton and Tim Farrants loop. http://www.attackpoint.org/sessiondata.jsp?sessionid=2470510 Obviously that means bugger all without controls on it.
I entered this with David Kennedy, Commonwealth 24 Hour Silver Medalist with 236.9km. He was over with family for a holiday and bit of running. He ran a comfortable 8:59 for 100k the previous weekend while the likes of Greg and Tim were out at TWALK for 24 hours and I was just doing bits and pieces at both. So being from Aussie, Perth, I’d hammered home the potential for cold and the hills. Apparently if they drive in a car for 24 hours they can get to a hill that’s 1500m high. So I was pretty keen to show him what actual hills and trails or not trails were. He backed himself, all Aussies do. I was planning on killing him. A battle of wills really.
The Map & Route
Quite possibly the most enjoyable locations and control setting I’ve had in a rogaine. Lots of cool historical places visited from old gold mining days. Beautiful gorges, Torrs, historic and active Water-races, Stunning views, interesting variations of sidling, climbs, marked and unmarked tracks. Other than #4 which was accidentally marked wrong on the map (#35 was just inside the circle) everything else was within spitting distance of the centre point. A hell of a lot more enjoyable than TWALK.
Straight line distance = 43.7km, vert = 2600m (equates to about 50k actual distance)
Planned (extra green loop) 9.5km and 1000m
So to cut what was a very enjoyable 11hrs 45 minutes short. I disqualified the team by sending David home after 7.5 hours before he did any real damage to himself. Dodgy ankles, road runners, rough terrain and the onset of darkness aren’t good friends. We had a good time, talked a crap load about running, training the usual stuff you’d expect from guys who are stupid enough to run 1k loops on the road in Wales. He gave me a beating over there, it was good to reciprocate. One day I’d hope that I can get myself together and give him an honest go over 24 hours on the road. Maybe not though, rogaines are just that much more fun. So we parted ways at #76 which is the red bend right in the centre of the map.
Greig and Tim covered more or less the reverse of what I’d planned with a couple of extra controls and covered around 60k. If we’d collected all ours we’d have still been around 300 points short. They pretty much disqualified themselves as well by getting enormously separated for long stretches of time (up to 1/2 hour, hahaha). For those who have no idea who I’m talking about. Greig Hamilton finished 4th at the 2010 World Championship (with Phil Novis) and Tim Farrant won the Junior Mixed Teams at the 2008 World (with Georgia Whitla). Pretty funny hearing them arguing back at the hash about who was wrong with navigation and who was holding who up. Pretty happy to come 2nd to those guys.
So what were they doing. Bagging controls of course and then we all snuggled up in the tent together and had a great sleep.
Highland Events (click the link, top right)
Thanks Ed and Terry. We’ll be there as a family for the 6hour in September as long as it’s not the 1st or the last weekends.
Well done to summer training buddy and manager Frosty for winning what has been one of the most hyped Ultra’s in recent memory. Transvucania to go with her two San Francisco TNF50 wins must make her the top 50 mile athlete in the world. Nice.
Good luck GTG, Mick (hugs), Ryan and the rest of the team Sydney this weekend, if any of you don’t like your shoes and they’re size 8.5UK I need a replacement pair for the ones our Bunnies Ate. Grrrrrr.