The Rogaine is (in addition to being an American hair loss solution foam), an orienteering competition where teams of 2-5 attempt to gain as many points as possible by reaching checkpoints (“controls”) based on a provided map. Each team can determine their own route and make their course as challenging or relaxed as they please. I went with a competitive group of IRES members: Sam, Roxy, and Nicole. The four of us wanted to put on a good show, despite this being everyone’s first time orienteering. The course we mapped was north of our usual study site and it was enjoyable to explore new areas of the property. We started at 2:15 and finished at 7:50 p.m., just shy of the 6-hour limit, garnering 800 points (controls ranged in value from 20 to 120 points, depending on difficulty, distance, etc.). We pushed ourselves pretty hard and did a good job of navigating relatively accurately and keeping our eyes open for the controls (effectively boxes attached to trees). Our course took us all over the map, primarily after the high value controls that were spread out and more difficult to access.
A lot of the area to the north was burning, and we crossed the line of fire four different times on our quest (a feature I was much more comfortable with given the burn the previous day at the airstrip). I was the teammate who (in addition to carrying Sam’s 2L of water for her) went up to each control and punched the pattern onto our score sheet. I also was the team member who found it enjoyable to run up the hill to the microwave tower (a tougher haul than the Slope at Cornell arguably) because of my sheer enjoyment of the Rogaine, even though it was already hour five.
The final point we found in the dark (with headlamps but almost no visibility) at the top of a hill of viciously thick grass, which took a good 7-8 minutes of intense rock scrambling/climbing to summit, and longer to descend safely. Despite it being cool and dark, the hardest we all sweated was while climbing the final hill. There isn’t a sufficient comparison for the thickness of foliage we traversed (it’s an invasive species called Gamba Grass that is important to many of our projects). We then hightailed it back to the finish in time to enjoy a delicious dinner (bolognaise pasta, watermelon, carrot cake, and never enough water. I consumed 4 L during the six hour period). Despite it being our first time (and many of the people present being real pros at Rogaine), we finished in 5th of 16 teams overall with 800 pts (2 teams in the 900’s, 2 in the 1100’s), beating out over ten other teams, which we were thrilled with. The seasoned Rogainers were impressed with our tremendous effort that rivaled their own success.
Nicole and I plotted out the minimum distance we could have traveled during the Rogaine (assuming perfectly straight trajectories between points) to be 18km. We estimate that our actual distance traveled was in the mid to low twenties (!!!). Considering we had already walked 6-10 km that day in the field (average daily distance ranges from 12-20 km I’d say), doing 20+ in an afternoon pushed us pretty hard. The day after, my legs feel pretty good, though I had to pop a few blisters. So, who will join me in some of these events back in the States?!