From Upper Hutt to the Kapiti Coast; 210 keen competitors will be taking part in the 2010 Silva National Rogaining Championships in the rugged Akatarawas this weekend.
Although touted as the toughest rogaine and foot-race ever held in New Zealand, this has not stopped a quality field of competitors applying to test their navigational and endurance skills over 100 square kilometres of steep hills, narrow gorges and native bush.
Organiser Mike Sheridan expects that this will be the toughest rogaine he has seen. "The winning team will need to travel 100 km and climb around 5000m. A normal rogaine would see 160 kilometres covered, but this terrain will slow them down heaps.”
It’s not just about raw endurance, as teams will need to strategize continually if they want to win,” he added
“Teams that are prepared to take risks and shortcuts through the thick bush, and then can pick themselves up after serious errors will do well. Then they will need a strategy for finding the checkpoints at night.”
Former World Adventure racing champion Nathan Fa'ave and former New Zealand orienteering representative Phil Wood have teamed up in the men’s category, hoping to repeat their respective 2007 and 2009 National Championship wins in other teams.
Standing in their way will be the team of former World Rogaining Champion Dennis de Monchy, and brother Pim, and also Greig Hamilton with Jamie Stewart, Oceania Sprint Orienteering champion.
Jill Westenra, 9-time Coast to Coast winner is teamed up with Crazyman winner Al Cross to make up the favourite mixed team and they are likely to pressure the mens teams for an overall win.
Local mountainbike legends Simon Kennett and John Randal, winners of the 8hour AkAttack MTB-rogaine held in the Akatarawas each year, have the home advantage in the 12 hour race with their local knowledge, but they will have to cope with a steep learning curve over that time on foot.
The veterans category is always competitive and Wellington councillor Andy Foster is teaming up with 2009 Coast to Coast veteran winner Mark Hearfield to make up a very competitive veterans team.
The ‘dark horses’ in the men’s category may well be Junior World Rogaining Champion Tim Farrant (Christchurch) running with local orienteer and adventure racer Ramash Swamy.
Female adventurers are not under-represented in the championships, with a large number of female teams taking on the 24 hour Championship.
Amongst those teams, New Zealand junior orienteering representatives Greta Knarston and Georgia Whitla will be up against a strong team of local rogainer Hazel Bidmead and Irish fellrunner and mountainbiker Jackie O’Hagan.
Twenty four hour teams will start at midday Saturday the 17th, and have the option to return at any time to the race centre for food and rest. Shorter three, six and twelve hour races will also be held over the weekend.