Roagaining, or score events, add some different challenges from traditional orienteering. Not only do you have to find the controls, but you have to decided which order to collect them. Planning a good route can be helpful in terms of controlling the difficulty of navigation, making the most of your strengths and maximising points for a given distance. There are a few key things to think about when sitting down to plan a rogaine. Here’s my take on a good process to approach planning a rogaine route.
1. Know your terrain and know yourself
Where are you racing? Flat or Hilly? Thick vegetation or fast running forest? Crossable rivers? Have this in the back of your mind when considering a route. At this point also consider how much of the map you can realistically cover. Shooting to reach all of the controls at your first rogaine might be a bridge too far.
Fig 1. green circles = big hills
Survey the map for areas of high points density. I’m talking lots of juicy high points controls. Maximising score is about maximising points per kilometer, these high density areas are the parts of the map you want to reach
Fig 2. High density areas circled in red
3. Home stretch
Choose the last part of your route first. Include multiple bail out options, so that you can choose to leave some controls in order to get back on time. Theres nothing worse than being committed to a big loop and know you’re losing points by running late.
Fig 3. An option for coming home in pink (note cut outs possible)
4. Join the dots.
With the last part of the route chosen start to think about how you can string together the high density areas. Here is where knowing the terrain comes in. Be sure to join controls to take advantage of terrain. Try to maintain height and avoid regular up and down legs. You can also ensure you approach controls from the safest direction if navigation execution is your weakness. Some controls may be super challenging from one direction, yet easy as from another.
5. Set deadlines.
With a course drawn out think about deadlines and write these on the map. Make these deadlines decision points to ensure you don’t become a victim of the time limit. I usually try and have a mid course and a 3/4 cut off point. These are places you can choose to leave a few controls to ensure you make it to the finish in time.
Fig 4. Route marked in red, deadlines in green (possible cut outs) and finish in pink
6. Keep it tidy
Last of all, make sure that all of the drawing on your map is tidy and easy to read. You need to be able to make sense of your scribbles on the fly, so its better that it is clear as opposed to a multicoloured, chicken-scratch, highlighter disaster zone.
Try it out, either at your next rogaine or score event (check out www.orienteering.org.nz for NZ’s event calendar), or at home. Just google image search for old score events and have a try.