Tag Archive: rogaine

The gypsies of the High Country

The month of May means it's TWALK time - basically the best event of the year right? I mean, what's not to love about dressing up and running round the hillsides for 24 hours? Because we are a disorganised bunch, L just entered a group of us and gave us a team name, The Gypsies. We thought it seemed like a pretty good theme although I'm not sure the boys were convinced until they realised that all gypsies need, a caravan.

Having a bit of a caravan construction party!

There were some late nights and early mornings at our house constructing the magnificent speciman. In fact, one morning I woke up about 6am to the sound of the sewing machine running! Miraculously it was finally complete late on the Thursday night so we had Friday night to do the rest of the prep. M really got into the sewing thing, with the 2 of us constructing some fairly hilarious trousers for the occasion as well.

Once we arrived at the university carpark we had to put our caravan together to parade our hard work around the carpark for a couple of laps before deconstructing it again to fit on the bus. So much entertainment! We even had a little speaker 'blasting out' gypsy music.

The Gypsies and our caravan at Lake Pearson

Checking out the course with M and L.

One of the best things about TWALK is not knowing where you are going. There was much tension amongst the team about how 'caravan-friendly' it was going to be! We kept driving further and further into the high country and ended up stopping by Lake Pearson which got as all excited. It was also ridiculously windy which made us not so excited. Fortunately we only had to get the caravan round the first leg but even that was a struggle despite the boys carting it round easier routes for the second half. It sure slowed us all down!

The boys and their caravan on Leg 1. It's starting to fall apart on them.

I was so glad to reach the hashhouse at Craigieburn Station, an awesome location. The next couple of legs all went okay apart from a freezing cold and wet section on leg 2 at the top of a mountain after the sun went down but that's just all part of the fun right?

Leg 2, galloping through the tussock above the Waimakariri River. Sorry Jamie, I stole your photo because it's awesome.

Leg 4 however, there are just no words to describe quite how awful and ridiculous this leg was. Not only were the controls mostly insanely difficult/impossible to find but from #4 the terrain became insane. Getting down the hillside to the river I don't think my feet ever touched the ground as I attempted to bash down through the scrub. Then it was a case of either bashing through gorse or wading deep in a freezing cold river...for what felt like hours! Then to get back up the bank again you found yourself grabbing hold of matagouri to stop you sliding back down again. I think I'm still extracting splinters to this day! Add in some more steep climbs only to not find the controls and you get the idea. We got back to the hash house with less than an hour left which meant only about 26 minutes or something for a brief dash round a couple of controls on leg 5 (there is a mandatory standdown of half an hour between each leg).

Our poor caravan looking a little worse for wear outside the Woolshed.

We ended up coming second after coming in from the first leg quite a way behind the fast teams but we did win the glorious prize of best costume which we were pretty stoked about. Next year will be the 50th event which is pretty exciting! But I really hope we don't have to carry round a ridiculously large and awkward prop again!

Afghans are tasty

One more sleep and then it's Christmas! Exciting! And then on Boxing Day we're off on the train to Greymouth then setting off on a bit of a cycling adventure down the West Coast and (hopefully) eventually back to Christchurch. Even more exciting! Although I probably should pack...

Ever since our tandem arrived we've been doing a lot of riding. At the end of October we did our first randonneuring event with the Kiwi Randonneurs, a 400km loop from Greymouth to Greymouth in a day (via Reefton > Springs Junction > Murchison > Westport). Quite possibly also the last time I ever ride that far in one day! I mean, all the beautiful scenery down the West Coast from Westport and it was in the dark! It would make a beautiful two-day ride though. Anyway, we survived and it got me pretty keen for some cycle touring.

About half an hour into the 400km Greymouth ride. Photo by Shane Davidson.

Tuesday evenings are normally time trials along Old Tai Tapu Rd with the Canterbury Time Trial Association. It's pretty cool 'cause I definitely wouldn't normally want to ride for 16km along a flat course as fast as I can. That just sounds like torture! We are the only tandem there but there is a trike and it's always fun to see the pro riders with their skin suits, aero helmets and swanky time trial bikes. Some even bring some pretty fancy wind trainers to warm up on first. At the start of December each year there is also the hill climb time trial from the Blue Duck by Motukarara to just past the top of Kennedy's. Perfect conditions this year saw us with a new PB which will be ridiculously difficult to beat!

Along with the usual rides we also had a fun day out riding on the Peninsula down to Little Akaloa and round the bays to Okains Bay with the Emilys. EW and I then dragged ourselves round a 6-hour rogaine the following day...you've got to make the most of summery weather when it's here!

Clockwise from top left: the big green monster chilling at Okains Bay, Little Akaloa - many steep climbs ahead, EW shows us just how steep Okains Bay Road can be, top of Okains Bay Road - yay!

There's been various orienteering events, the Mountain Bike Orienteering Nationals, the Wedding of the Year (!), the Vegetarian Expo (so much delicious food! I love it!), book groups (so many awesome books, so little time) and so much more.

Early December was the National Rogaine Champs which was held in the Nevis Valley. I was racing with EW and it went pretty well apart from a few terrible controls!! I could write more here but I've already written enough and it's on my AP log so if you're interested you can read that here.

National Rogaine Champs map - you can almost make out our route if you squint hard enough!

And of course it wouldn't be Christmas without the annual Christmas Rogaine!! 3 hours of good times blundering around in the bush in the mist!

Christmas Rogaine madness.

Yesterday I was intending to head back out that way on my run but I wasn't feeling all that great so instead I ended up looping back from the Kiwi and having a bit of an explore. It was supposed to be sunny but as you can see below, ummm, the sun hadn't quite managed to get itself together so instead it was misty and drizzly.

The Port Hills are awesome.

And now back to Christmas. The tofukey just recently came out of the oven all ready for tomorrow and last night I found myself cooking yet another batch of cookies. I don't think I've ever cooked so many batches of cookies in such a short space of time!

The tofukey in various states of preparation.

Last night's cookies: a couple of New Zealand classics with afghans on the left and peanut brownies on the right (both adapted from the Edmonds Cookbook).

Merry Christmas! Here's hoping the typical Kiwi summer storm doesn't hit whilst we're riding (or is that just too optimistic?! It is the West Coast after all) and the little earthquake we just had is just a lone ranger.

Mountain lions and fallen logs

In which L and I see a mountain lion and stumble over far too many fallen trees.

So the "main" purpose of our trip to the States was for me to compete in the World Rogaine Champs in the Black Hills of South Dakota (in other words, a good excuse to visit my eldest brother and his wife who live in Salt Lake City!). Plus the furthest afield I'd ever been up until this point had been bashing around in the bush somewhere in Australia so it was probably about time I headed off overseas somewhere like everyone else seems to do.

This is not the first time I've competed in the World Rogaine Champs. My first time was in Cheviot in 2010 a few years back. But this time was a rather more serious approach as L is amazing and we had the potential, if we had a good race, to make it onto the podium. Yeah, just a little bit of pressure. Mostly though we just wanted to do the best that we could (and not get eaten by a mountain lion or bitten by a rattlesnake). I hadn't had the best build up to this race either with a foot injury earlier in the year meaning I had to do a lot of cycle training instead.

The day before the race was supposed to be relaxing but ended up being stressful with M having to take the place of one of the other guys in the Open Men's team at the last minute. We'd both not had the best sleep that week either which was starting to worry me. In the afternoon my brother and his wife arrived which helped keep my mind off the following day a bit though.

Race morning and I'm not sure if many of us managed to stomach breakfast all too well. I was so nervous (and worried about M...silly me!). We arrived at the event with lots of time and managed to find a space at a table in the big tent next to some Aussie teams (3 of the 4 were actually ex Kiwis!) and nervously awaited map handout. Once we got our maps though it was all go. It didn't take us too long to plan our route as there seemed to us to be a clear part of the map that we wanted to be once it got dark (the north east corner) so we planned our (highly optimistic) route around this.

L and I pre race. Yep, the map is huge but bear in mind we'd already cut it down a bit too. Good for hiding under in case of rain right?

About 11:45am we were all ushered into the start area for an anxious 15 minute wait until the gun went off. It looked like there were a large amount of teams heading to the same first control as us (#25) so we set off fairly fast in order to not get held up in a queue. Seemed pretty successful. What always amazes me is how quickly teams spread out and how, despite there being something like 500 other people out there, we were mostly by ourselves by the 3rd control.

And we're off...the line of runners heading off to control #25. It's somewhere up in the bush there.

It all started out so well for the first hour but then the heat started to get to me and I found I couldn't seem to keep down any food other than chomps. Fortunately I was still able to drink so I wasn't getting dehydrated but I was losing energy fast. We tried sitting down for a couple of minutes at a time in order to help get food down but it wasn't working. Heat and incredibly rough terrain was not helping but I'm pretty stubborn when I want to be so there was no way I was giving up. We made it to the first water stop around 6:30pm, later than we'd wanted (although the terrain was turning out to be even rougher than the model map had been which seemed almost impossible!). There were people there to greet us and a note pasted on to the water barrel from L's partner and I think you could have actually seen our spirits lift at the sight of a friendly face. I managed to get down a gel and a few of L's corn chips and then we were off.

Darkness hit around 8:30pm (we had just made it to #74, determined to get there before requiring headlights) and we were faced with our first night control (#64), an incredibly vague spur in the middle of thick bush. Nailing that was an incredible boost for the spirits. We were heading back out through the bush after that control when L suddenly stopped and bent down to pick up a stick, telling me that I ought to do the same. It was then that I saw the eyes watching us from under a fallen tree. Not too far from where we were standing I could make out the shape of what could only be a mountain lion, pretty much my biggest fear for this whole trip. We started making as much noise as we could and had our whistles at the ready whilst slowly trying to make our way back out to the track. The eyes kept watching us the whole way. It was only once we'd gotten back out onto the track that, after checking we could no longer see it, we started running, turning round every now and then just to double check. We nearly scared ourselves to death at the sight of a deer and the way our headlights lit up the reflectors on the track posts.

After a rather long stretch of not getting any controls (not that I suspect we could have navigated all that successfully to them anyway as it took a long time for the panic to die down!) we were back into the bush for some more vague controls to test our night navigation! Finally, around midnight, we made it to #41 and the easier navigation. Oh, and our friends G&T who were also not having the best of races. We headed round the next few controls together which boosted everyone's moral before leaving them to go our own way. By this stage I could stomach a little bit more food (mostly just tofu and a few crackers so not ideal but better than nothing) so I was feeling a bit more on the planet.

Some time not long after 6am though we both had managed to develop incredibly sore feet. I've had sore feet in these events before but nothing like this. A change of socks, more vaseline and some pain killers brought about a small amount of relief but still, at times we were reduced to a hobble! I think in the last couple of hours we could have been a lot more aggressive but we just couldn't handle the foot pain and had decided that as long as we finished after 11:30am then that would just have to be enough.

L and I at the finish.

I can't tell you how relieved I was to finish, take my shoes off and sit down...24 hour rogaines are such painful things. Why do we do them?! But even better was seeing my brother and M at the finish line cheering us on.

This event was by far the toughest terrain I've ever been in (just the continuous battle through endless fallen trees for hours on end) but despite the pain and exhaustion it was actually really fun. We both agreed it was an excellent course (if not the greatest of maps) and we can now add mountain lion to the list of animals seen (although I think I would have preferred not to have seen one!). I definitely learnt some lessons and I have a long way to go in terms of figuring out a fail-safe food plan...sigh.

Yep, I sure was happy to be finished. I almost look fresh in this photo but I sure didn't feel that way!

There should have been a prize giving within an hour of everyone finishing but somehow there was a rather large technical disaster with the results and so we had to wait about 2 weeks for the results to be announced. So much anticipation! Somehow, despite having a pretty rough race, L and I managed to take second place in the Women's Open grade. My medal arrived in the post a few days ago but it all feels rather surreal without having a prize giving.

Thanks to my awesome brother R for the photos!

The Golden Road

One of the things I love most about rogaines is the scenery. You get to go to places you would never normally be able to see (as the land is privately owned or you are well off the beaten track - busy thrashing through matagouri or climbing up through the tussock).

But there is always at least one moment where you wonder what on earth you are doing out there and you wish it could just end. Last weekend that moment came as we were clambering up the steep, rocky slopes of Mt Trotter. The tussock was so high I couldn’t see my team mate and was hiding the dreaded spaniard, so I’d grab hold of some tussock to haul myself up with and find I’d managed to stab myself with the sharp points of the spaniard. It was worth it for the magnificent views and the 100 points we gained at the top though.

With no Heights of Winter last month I was definitely starting to feel anxious about not getting in a decent length race with my World Rogaine Champs teammate, L. We've done several short rogaines together (including a fun 3 hour one at Vic Park a couple of weekends back) and been in the same team for TWALK this year but a long rogaine is different. L is very fast and, as one of my friends says, an energizer bunny as well as being an excellent navigator. I was definitely getting anxious I wasn’t good enough to be her team mate.

Anyway, this past weekend we finally had a chance to race together at the Golden Road rogaine in Otago (in what was going to be a 13hr race but was cut down to 11 hours for various reasons).

A few of us drove down the night before and camped at the event centre (after a freezing weekend camping at Lindis Valley for a previous rogaine in April we all brought way too much gear for what turned out to be a fairly mild couple of nights!) so I picked up the map early and started planning our route...which turned out to be easier than normal - really just a matter of creating loops and working out which one to head out on first. So by the time L arrived I had a route all planned out (and fortunately she agreed with it!).

It was a pretty cold morning and we had a river crossing within a couple of minutes of starting (and then another one not long after that) so I think we were both glad to get to the first hill to start the warming up process. People were heading off all over the place and it only looked like a couple of other teams were heading out our way but they were a long way behind. This was pretty much the theme of the day as we hardly saw anyone out there and when we did they were going the opposite direction. It was like having the hills all to ourselves. Rogaines are funny like that. There could be hundreds of you out there but quite often you spend long periods of time seeing no one. Also, as usual, the scenery was spectacular. We didn't have a camera on us but there are some photos (and race reports) on Tane's blog and Matt Bixley's blog (complete with a photo of the awesome stone yards L and I got excited over).

We kept a pretty steady, quite fast (for me anyway, especially as I'd had a cold all week and was lacking that last bit of energy) pace, working as a team on our navigation. There was possibly a bit of a lack of focus (too much gossiping!) in the first hour but we got into a good flow. At just under 6 hours in we'd completed our first 2 loops so which meant we had time to head out the back to the far east of the map.

From #60 we ended up going to #42 first then #24 (the climb back up to this was tough going by this stage though) and in retrospect we should have left one of them out but we still thought we had time to finish with the #72 > #48 > #92 but by the time we actually got out to the road it was dark and we had 1 ¼ hours to go so it seemed too risky (if it had been daylight I think we'd have gone for it though) so we decided to abandon #72 and head straight to #48. We managed to screw up #48 and got ourselves into a panic (the first control in the dark is always entertaining!). Then it was an exhausting slog to the 90 pointer and down to #26 where we looked at our watches and saw we had about 15 minutes to go. We both joked that we'd get in trouble if we got back that early so we decided to risk another 10 points with #11. There was precious little time to get back to the finish after that so it was a mad dash down the hill to the woolshed where we got thwarted by all the stockyard gates! We must have clambered over at least 10 in our hurry! Made it with probably no seconds to spare!

All in all it was a great day and I am definitely feeling more confident about surviving the Worlds with L. We seemed to work well as a team and, most of the time, I didn't even feel too slow! Starting to get a little bit excited...2 ½ weeks until we leave!

The 24hr hen's party

I'm still recovering from a long weekend of TWALK adventures. TWALK is basically 24 hours of slightly mad fun running around in the hills trying to unravel cryptic clues (and then searching for the actual control) and getting your legs cut up by matagouri.

This was my 4th event (I missed out last year as I was in a cast and definitely not up to doing much) but M worked out it was his 15th TWALK! You can see more about my previous TWALKs here, here, here and here.

And the madness of TWALK begins...

This year the event started at Lake Clearwater and the scenery was, as always, stunning. The guys all went in one team (dressed as duck hunters (The Rubber Ducky Hunters) complete with their own maimai which M rode home with on his bike somehow on Friday night) and us girls all went in another (as the Hen's Party - we left feathers everywhere as the first leg went on!).

First leg fun amongst the matagouri.

This year's event was a little bit odd in that the first 3 legs seemed faster and easier than average so, very unusually, we made it through all 5 legs within the time limit although we didn't have much time for control searching by the 5th leg so it wasn't super successful. But, as usual, it was awesome (but more than a tiny bit brutal especially for those of us who were went out on all the stages). Basically it's the best event of the year!

I did intend to take some photos of the delicious lemon muffins I'd made to eat between legs but yeah, that didn't happen. But they certainly were good. I mean, I ate 5 of them during the race!

So next time I promise a food post.

I like cookies

Chapter 29 - Thou wilt get a brush and a little chalk to my sword - 'Twill be only in your honour's way, replied Trim. - Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne (and yes, that is the entirety of chapter 29)

Look! It's me! I'm still alive!

Seriously, I have all these half-finished posts that haven't made it up because, well, I've ended up super super busy. Life can do that to you sometimes.

On my bench at the moment I have a whole lot of lemon shortbread cookies cooling for our work morning tea tomorrow. We are having a British themed morning since it's Queens Birthday this long weekend in New Zealand (it's not actually the Queen's birthday since that's in April sometime I think, but this is when we celebrate it). No photos of them yet but they do taste super delicious even slightly warm and still a bit soft!

But I do have cookies for you today. Even a recipe. This is an adaption of a recipe my old flatmate would make all the time. She would try all these different versions and we'd all get to taste test them. I was feeling a little homesick the day I made these and it cheered me up thinking heaps.

Anyway, I also made them the day before this crazy 24 race (eventually there will be a post for this and many others here when i come up for air again) the weekend after I arrived so I could have something yummy to eat in between legs and to warm my heart when the rest of me was freezing (and grumpy)!

I ate at least 10 on the first day of the race (and a few more on the following day although I was slightly over cookies by then).

HyunJin's Magical Cookies (my chocolate, walnut and sultana version)
I got about 24 quite large cookies out of this recipe...and they are far yummier than they look!

2/3 cup vegan margarine (I used olivani or whatever it's called)
1 scant cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
80g chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sultanas (or raisins or currants or chopped dates etc)
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a couple of trays with baking paper.

Slowly melt the margarine, sugar and golden syrup in a big pot over the stove. Take the pot off the heat and mix in the flour, oats, baking powder and salt. Stir in the walnuts, sultanas and chocolate.

Place spoonfuls of mixture onto the baking trays with a bit of space between each. Lightly flatten (not too much). Bake for, hmmm, about 12 minutes or something like that. Just don't overdo them. That's all!!