Wicklow Rogaine 1999

Date(s) - 17/07/1999 - 18/07/1999
12:00 pm


Planner            Dave Weston
Organiser        Philip Brennan
Controls           Philip Brennan, Eugene O’Sullivan, Dave Weston, Mick Mangan
Base Camp    Brian Power, Jean Power, Jackie Atkinson

Event Info

Date:                  Saturday 17th July 1999
Event Centre:  Based at Glenmalure Valley (Barravore Car Park GR 067942) See enclosed map
Start Times:      24 hour course begins at 12 noon sharp 14 hour course begins at 6 pm sharp

All competitors must be present for registration and kit check 1 1/2 hours prior to start. Control Descriptions will be issued 1 hour before start.

Gear Check: Check list enclosed for completion and each competitor must carry the minimum amount of gear specified. Once gear is checked and control cards issued competitors will proceed to start area and may not leave this area until the event commences.

Maps Required: The only map required is the new 1: 25,000 Glendalough / Glenmalur map and this will be available for sale at registration. Sheets 56 & 62 may also be used if desired.

Hash House: This will be open from 6pm and hot food and drinks will be available thereafter. Limited sleeping accomodation will also be available and we recommend that sleeping bags be left at registration if teams intend to return and sleep. Teams may also pitch tents prior to departure. Limited toilet facilities will also be available.

On return to the Hash House teams must surrender their control cards and will not be permitted to leave the controlled area.

Rules & Conditions: Already printed on entry form, copy enclosed. As we will broadly be following the rules of the Australian Rogaining Association a copy of these rules are also enclosed.

Prize Giving: Will be held approx 1 hour after finish

Any Queries: Contact Philip Brennan

Enjoy The Event!!!

Report from Declan McGrellis from the NIOA Newsletter

A Night to Remember


l7th/18th July 1999


LVO’s Declan McGrellis describes a Titanic struggle on the Setanta Rogaine …

OK, so there aren’t many orienteering events on during the summer months. Some people take the opportunity to rest and go on holidays. The dedicated among us may even combine their holidays with one of the multi-day events. However, two intrepid LVO hopefuls decided to use the opportunity to try out orienteering with a slightly different slant. Setanta were advertising their 2nd 24 hour rogaine in the Glendalough area. The Wicklow Mountains sounded a nice place to spend a weekend in July, and so I submitted the application form for myself and Greg McCann. Little did I know what I had just committed ourselves to!

On the Friday I drove down to the McCanns’. This was our opportunity to weigh out the little bags of white powder – Isostar for those unfamiliar with Mountain Marathons. There were six sandwich bags with two scoops in each for both of us. This would help us to survive the weekend, and we also had our secret weapon: two bags of raisins each. These would be easy to eat on the run, and also had an easy-to-stomach taste. We sounded as if we knew what we were doing at this stage. The rucksacks were packed and it was off to the B&B in Laragh.

The Saturday morning involved a leisurely rise, followed by a traditional Irish breakfast – a huge fry. This was going to have to keep us going over the next 24 hours. The rogaine start was 10 miles away in the Glenmalure valley. The drive through the mountains was quite spectacular, but we couldn’t help but wonder how much of it we would be seeing again – and at much closer quarters this time! When we started to drive up the valley towards the start, the butterflies-in-the-stomach level started to rise. Both sides of the valley seemed to be closing in very quickly and it became quite obvious that there was going to be no easy way out on foot. Our concentration on the cliff faces on either side was broken by the sight of a mob of youngsters attempting to push a car out of a ditch. We were a little perplexed at this, but it later transpired that the car belonged to the owner of the youth hostel at the end of the road. The kids were on a weekend camp to get away from inner city life in Dublin, and had stolen the car the previous night. (Stereotyping! -Ed.) This did not bode well for us leaving cars unattended on the Saturday night.

The rendezvous point was to be the Barravore carpark. Since we weren’t that early, we expected a lot of activity around the registration tent. Alas, there was no tent. The only sign of life was a single car with two relieved occupants. They had been waiting for some time, and were beginning to wonder if it was the correct car park. At least we were in no rush, since the cloud cover was starting to close in, and drizzle was starting to fall. A few cars started arriving over the next half hour and our concentration moved back to the event looming ahead of us. It was now that we started to realise that a bit of training would have been a good idea.

Other competitors were starting to put up tents in the campsite. We had the opportunity to do the same, but were resolute in our plan that we would not be returning to the campsite until the 24 hours had elapsed. If the worst happened, we could always sleep in the car. Everything was not going to be ready for the noon start, and so it was postponed for one hour There were no complaints from anyone, except that we had scoffed most of our additional food supplies by this stage. All that was left was the food we were carrying for the event. However, I think it was more from built up apprehension that we were eating at this stage, as opposed to actual hunger. After all, we had just guzzled down a complete tin of Ambrosia creamed rice each. Greg’s idea behind this was that it would be very filling and would also serve to slow us down initially. I seem to remember him saying ‘. . in case we go off too fast . .’. Running off too fast was nowhere near the top of my list of things to do anyway.

At noon we had the kit inspection. This didn’t take too long due to the lack of kit: food, fleece waterproofs, Helly-Hansen, torch, compass, bivvy bag. We had also managed to buy the last two laminated 1:25000 Glendalough maps from Pat Healy. Everyone else was going to have to cope with a metre square plastic bag for their maps.

Half an hour before the start, we were all handed list of 54 grid references, with associated scores and descriptions. These ranged from 100 points (500 metres away) to a massive 700 points each (7 km away with 3 mountain peaks in between).

One o’clock finally arrived and the “go” signal sounded. Out of the two dozen teams, the majority seemed to be opting for a north-westerly start. Due the steep climbs on both sides of the valley, the only options seemed to be to return down the way we had driven into the valley, or proceed further up it on tracks. The first control was relatively simple, partly because that there were four teams arriving at it at roughly the same time, with us in fourth place. However, everyone overshot the wall corner about l00m and had to double back. The scale on the map was going to take a little time to get accustomed to. A steep 250m climb over a distance of 1km to the next control started to separate the fitter competitors. We did however manage to recover some time due to better relocating and grid reference reading. At least two of the other teams were searching at the wrong forest corner, and we had now moved into a notional second place. However, this was the last we were to see of many of the competitors Route choices started to occur now. We had decided that our time would be best spent attempting to get to the distant high point controls. There were batches of 8 x 600 and 3 x 700 points in both the extreme north and south of the map. Our master plan was to punch all of the northern high pointers on the Saturday. We would then cover the distance in between during the hours darkness using paths. Thus we could have a final fling at the controls in the south during Sunday morning picking up any of the lower point controls as we returned, depending on time.

This strategy involved us skipping three relatively close 200 point controls. We were on a mission to get as far as Garryknock in the north relatively quickly. Control 3 was on the SW of a knoll. We were going relatively strongly at this stage due to paths most of the way. Our confidence was dented slightly at the 3rd and 4th controls due to not marking the grid reference precisely enough. We had been about 150 m out in both cases. Both of these controls were relatively easy to spot our mistake at: a different knoll and forest corner. However, they did influence our decision not to climb up either Conavalla or Table Mountain for 200 points. Both peaks were now under thick cloud cover and the saddle looked a much more tempting option between. We did spot a team making the initial climb, but later heard that they had spent over 15 minutes wandering around in the mist looking for the control.

Our 5th control was a 300 pointer at Art’s Cross. This was very easy, due to the 30 foot cross like a huge beacon signalling the control’s location from 1km away. Thankfully the boggy ground around the Three Lakes had dried up considerably since the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon earlier in the year (but that’s a different story). We had now amassed over 1000 points and could see our next control 500 metres away at a stream junction. The only problem was that we had to descend 170 m to get it. In descending those slippy slopes, we spotted a falcon circling over our heads. Human feet had probably never previously trodden on the ground we were covering. Possibly this bird of prey had spotted its lunch descending those slopes on that Saturday afternoon.

Having finally made it to the river junction, we saw another team having some lunch. How did they get there before us? We had not even stopped yet and they had covered an extra control from us.

Undeterred, we only stopped to refill our water and headed straight for the cover of the forest. They weren’t going to get past us again! An hour later they ran past us on a forest track.

We were now within close reach of the 600 pointers. The first two were along tracks and involved a slow and steady slog uphill. Never again will I complain about a 300m climb on an orienteering course. We were covering more than this between every control. Our legs were starting to feel the pain. Cramps were threatening to take hold and it wasn’t even quarter of the way into the course yet. The following tracks involved a lot of walking for that reason. The first doubts about being able to survive 24 hours were now surfacing.

The next control was going to involve a little bit of cross-country navigation. The rain was starting to fall very heavily by this stage and we were completely soaked through. Thankfully, staying on the move kept us warm. A pair of lycra trousers and a light 0-top was all that was protecting us from the elements. We were now at the end of the track. There was thick forest in front of us. It was marked to be only l00 m thick. Having started to fight our way through, we were progressively getting closer and closer to the ground to avoid the branches. Greg’s compass had mysteriously got a bubble in it by now, and we were now depending on my compass to get us through this rough patch.

It was a pity that we didn’t think of bringing a spare compass. Having committed ourselves 50 m into the forest, there was no turning back. It was getting dark now and it was very easy to stray off the bearing There were never two more relieved people when we spotted the daylight at the other side of the trees. When we emerged, we were covered in pine needles from head to toe. Due to everything being drenched it was impossible to clean the needles away. We didn’t really care very much at this stage. To add to our misery, we now had a long stretch through young pine trees with waist high grass in between. The saturated grass was very uncomfortable to walk through and the pine needles were very sore to battle through. Who would have thought that we paid good money for this’experience’. The only other tracks through the glass were those made by the deer. At least we didn’t attempt to follow these trails. Our brains were not fully disfunctional at this stage.

Exhaustion was starting to set in now. We collected the last 600 pointer and a further 3×700 pointers which were quite close to the road into Laragh. We decided at this stage to stop for dinner at the Wicklow Gap. This would have been a nice choice under normal circumstances. However, when you are cold and tired, you notice how exposed the gap is to the northerly wind. Dinner consisted of a cold pre-packed meal and some chocolate. I had managed to put every single bit of clothing on me at this stage. I think Greg was now a little jealous of my hat and gloves which I had decided to bring for extra comfort. Once we had finished eating and started to move again, a little warmth did return to our bodies. It was however another half hour before the hat and gloves were put back into the rucksack. We were now angling up the side of Tonelegee, but quickly took a bearing towards the saddle. The low-lying cloud was blowing in quickly and our attack point had soon disappeared. At this stage our jogging was interspersed with progressively longer periods of walking. The target was to get onto the main road before darkness.

The control description said boulder and the map said there was a scree slope. We approached each 2m boulder with caution, to be sure not to miss a control hidden behind it. Our caution was unfounded due to a solitary 10 m boulder looming on the horizon. Confidence was now returning that this was going to be easy. A simple descent onto the forest track brought a further 600 points (even if the punch had since gone missing). The final 2×600 pointers in the northern section of the map were simple navigationally. It was not quite so simple physically. The ascent was only l00 m on paper, but the terrain was very demanding. One encouraging fact was that we had now completed the northern section of the map. It would be mainly roads and tracks throughout the hours of darkness. We took out our headtorches in anticipation of the onset of darkness. We had intended punching 2×300 pointers on the ridge north of Glendalough. Failure to find a track junction in the dark meant contouring around and missing the controls. Our progress had now been reduced to a stroll along the road to the upper lake. The next couple of hours were spent meandering up the 500 m climb of Mullacor on the south side of Glendalough using major forest roads. This was not a night walk for the faint hearted. There was little or no moonlight to help, and the only sounds were occasional shrieks from the airborne night hunters. It was near midnight as we approached the end of the road – both literally and metaphorically. The last 50 m climb was going to be using a ride which was supposed to be marked as the Wicklow Way. It was only by looking at the compass bearing that we discovered that the track had been extended further than the map indicated. Careful pacing and compass dictated where the ride junction should be. A final energy bar and we bravely stepped off the reassuring track and into the unknown climb. There did seem to be a path/ride at some stages through the trees, but I was very happy to let Greg lead. Greg had also assured me that the mountain top crossing would be easy in the dark.

It took approximately one hour to cover the 500 m of open ground to the forest on the south side of Mullacor. The ground was not exceptionally rough, but the navigation was purely using torch and compass We did not see the forest until it was less than 10 m in front of us. During daylight hours the crossing could have been made in less than 5 minutes. When WE finally did hit the edge of the forest, the next problem was to find out exactly how far along it we were. The communal decision was to go downhill until the stream source (plus a little further for good luck) and then cut into the forest to find our next track. We were fortunate in finding the track, but became confused in the dark We were walking along the track and didn’t notice turning through 180 degrees. We were quite disorientated by now and had decided to turn back along the track There had been no definite location markers in the previous couple of hours and we were depending mainly on compass bearings. On turning around to return along the track, our control marker miraculously appeared a few metres in front of us. This was a welcome boost and brought smiles to our faces.

We could now feel the night chill and we went walking briskly down the track to join the main road into the Glenmalure valley. Confidence was starting to return again … until we searched for the ride junction which we wanted to descend the 100 m gap between tracks. Tiredness was starting to grip us now. Neither of us had noticed the 200 point control which was 500 m in front of us along the track. Missing this control may have been our downfall. If we had seen it, an alternative descent route would also have appeared Instead, we spent 20 minutes looking for our ride, an ended up taking a horrendous route through shoulder high bracken interspersed with fallen trees down a 50 degree slope. This was the moment that we were closest to giving up. The only motive to continue was the fact that we had to get out of this jungle somehow.

Daylight was beginning to return when we eventually made it to the main road. We were, however, destined only to punch a further two controls. We had spent what seemed like an hour searching for a river bend. Greg eventually spotted it on the opposite side of the river bank. The river was too fast flowing to cross in the dark so we had to leave it. Our morale had taken another knock. It was at the next control that Greg’s battle with his knee was finally lost. It had been getting progressively worse and the 3 km hike uphill was going to be too much. We were within striking distance of the 600 point and 700 point clusters in the south. It was only 5 am and we had a further 8 hours of competition time left. The challenge had conquered us this time. The walk back to the campsite was extremely slow and gruelling. Greg was determined to record a finishing time rather than concede and get a Iift back. It took us over 2 hours to walk 5 km along the main road. Tiredness overcame me on a number of occasions: eyes closed, simply moving forward due to the repetitive nature of the walk.

In the end I think we were placed 4th or 5th, and were less than 2000 points behind the 2nd placed team. If we had been able to continue for a further 2-3 hours we would have achieved this target. Who knows, we might even have made it further…

The rogaine has proved to be one of the toughest challenges I have accepted to date. I would thoroughly encourage more people to take up the challenge in 2000. It can be made as tough (or as easy) as you want. I understand that a crate of Guinness was drunk by those returning to sleep at the overnight camp. There are many other incidents for the ‘Night to remember in GIendalough’ but I have already rambled on too long. Perhaps next time you’ll be able to experience the event at first hand, and tell the rest of us about it in a similar article.

(Originally published in Crossing Point, the NIOA Newsletter).

Rogaining in Ireland – 1999 Report

Ireland’s second Rogaine, organised by Dublin based Setanta Orienteers was held in South Wicklow on the weekend of 17/18 July 1999. Buoyed by the enthusiasm ofthe competitors last year it was decided to extend the open category course to the full 24 hour period with the non competitive class to 14 hours. Maas start for the 24 hour course was 12 noon with a later start of 6 pm for the 14 hour people.

Weather at the hash house, situated at the bottom of a sheltered valley was pretty foul with strong winds and very heavy bouts of rain so out on the open mountain competitors got a particularly rough time. However the majority of teams elected to stay out for the duration of the event, bivouaking in sheltered areas or hiding in forestry workers huts with only small numbers coming back for refreshment and some sleep.

The open 24 hour course was won by veteran Rogainers Mike & Jeff Powell Davies who visited 29 ofthe total 54 control sites and covered 83.6 KM with total climb of 3250 M. Runners up Damien Cashin & Liam Quinn managed to visit 30 controls but scored considerably lower than the winners.

Compliments to Planner Dave Weston who cleverly placed controls in various groupings with challenging route choices between each group. The old adage about a few extra minutes spent planning saving hours out in the field rang true in this instance.

Rogaining looks to be a permanent feature on Ireland’s orienteering calender and Rogaine 2000 will (barring Armageddon) take place on 1st & 2nd July.

Thanks from Mike and Jeff

Dear Philip,

Many thanks for the 99 Rogaine. If only because of tradition we thought that a 24 hour event was an improvement.

The very generous prizes were much appreciated, particularly a night at the Glenndamur Lodge as a very attractive alternative to camping in a wet tent. Maybe well use the second night before next years event.

In case it helps future planning, our route was 83.6Km (59.7 direct) and 3250M climb. However if you were to get a team of dedicated mountain runners they would cover a lot more.

The start location and planning of the course seemed an improvement on 1998. It was certainly much easier to do it all on 1:25 0.00.

I hope that we will see you again next year, but cannot offer any guarantees unless you can promise 24 hours of clear weather and a full moon.

It would be helpful if you could give me a reminder to return the trophy whether we are coming to the 2000 event or not.

Again many thanks to you and your team. If there is anything we can do to promote the event, please let me know.

Mike and Jeff