Rogaine 2018-First timers

Ruairi Long and his Rogaine partner- Conall Whelan, both 19 years old, embarked upon their first Rogaine a few weeks ago. Their fellow competitors described the newbie duo as ‘so excited, enthusiastic and innocent’ as the race began. Their enthusiasm somewhat dampened as the 24 hours progressed and the rain began, the experience being described as Type 2 Fun!

Here Ruairi gives us a taste of his experience.

With recent talk of ultras, adventures and endurance becoming more mainstream, one could be brought into a false sense of security. What really constitutes tough? -You may ask, when sitting on your couch, watching the Barkley Marathons. It seems that anyone, with the right fuel, could trudge away for a day or two, eventually ending it with smiles and a tired beer. However, 21 hours into the 2018 Rogaine, the last thing on my mind was beer. My body had simply flopped, with a numb sick feeling of exhaustion all over.

The Rogaine is a 24 hour navigation based mountain race, wherein competitors are given grid coordinates of up to 40 control points and told to come back with as many visited as possible. Tactics differ, from returning to base for a nap and a hot drink, to bivvying under a tree. The best thing we did as first timers was the former.

If there was any way I could describe how it felt, I would say it was like a long, voluntary family hike. Imagine those seemingly forced march hikes you were dragged on circa 15 years old. It feels very similar, albeit motivation is certainly different. Time and distance are measured in numbers that usually seem large and far-gone. Speaking to my partner in terms of hours seems entertaining now, as usually, running wise, we talk in 16 minute 5k pace, 3:30 min kilometers. Everything slows right on down to a grind. The next step. The next false top. The next stone. Keep it going. The hours will tick down. Before you know it, you are in Glendalough at 11pm at night, the roads and paths around the upper lake free of tourists or noise. The stillness will stay with you when the blisters are gone.
I think what became most apparent on finishing (early I may add)  was the importance of experience. It is a struggle, and being prepared for that struggle is no easy task. You need to learn to get the food and water into your body when you can. Digesting food already inside you is not something you think about, forcing the 9th cereal bar into your mouth is a different matter. Remembering basic things like hydration when your mind is hazy is tricky.
Most important of all though? Embrace that innocence you may have as a first timer and just get out there. Give it a shot, take it control by control and just look. Live the experience for all it’s ups and downs. Getting an opportunity to push yourself in the most basic of ways, and to clear your mind and body of useless clutter can help give clarity. Oh, and nothing beats that nights sleep afterwards.
On a more personal note, I have to give my gratitude to the guys who manned the base camp through the night, and went out of their way to ensure that we could survive as best as we could. The food, drinks, advice and positivity they provided was invaluable. They know who they are, it would be nothing without them. Thanks again.
Ruairi Long
The duo’s exploits were also recorded on instagram!
Ireland’s Rogaine is organised by Setanta Orienteers  each June, the exact date is noted on the fixtures list of this website each year, together with details of how to enter. We look forward to seeing more competitors join us in a friendly, technical endurance race, not for the faint hearted! There is also a six hour variation if you’d like a gentler Rogaine.
Orienteering in Ireland
Orienteering Ireland, Irish Sport HQ, Blanchardstown
D15 DY62, Ireland