As anyone who has been stuck in a confined space with me for any period of time could attest, I’m an adventure racing tragic – someone not short of opinions and ideas on the sport. I love every element about racing whether it be competing, tracking races or organising them myself. I’ve filled my life with many different elements of adventure racing whether it be travelling to big international expedition races to compete, blogging on different races or scientific studies into the effects of extreme sleep deprivation. But of all the elements outside of competing that I’ve found the most rewarding, it is putting on “The Rogue”.
One of the alarming trends that I’ve noticed across the sport is that it has an ageing population problem. I go into this a bit further in a section of the new website titled Why The Academy, but one of the statistics I like to quote is that in the last 12 years that GeoQuest has run in this country, the average age of a competitor has risen by 10 years from 31yrs 7mths to 41yrs 7mths. What does that tell me? We are in need of fresh blood into adventure racing. The logistical, financial and athletic barriers for entry into adventure racing can be massive, so it’s no wonder the sport attracts an older population.
The antithesis to the ageing population problem experienced in Australia is the New Zealand AR scene. It’s possible to effectively do adventure racing as a school sport in NZ with excellent programs like the Hillary Challenge and the Go-4-12 Adventure Race. The trickle up effects of these programs is that Colts teams now consistently feature in the top 10 of GODZone, arguably one of the hardest expedition races in the world. Is it any wonder that NZ is renowned for producing world class adventure racing teams?
So in an attempt to open up a youth development pathway into the sport of adventure racing in Australia, the Raid Adventures series is running an initial pilot program for young competitors. Full details are expanded on the website here. I have grand visions for this program, but hopefully they can rise from humble beginnings. It would be great to have the support of the Australian AR community on this initiative. The ultimate result would be to see a team graduating from the Colts Academy mixing it on the world stage of Adventure Racing.
The Raid Series
The Rogue race has always been organised through the Queensland Rogaine Association, and I hope to keep close ties to the QRA (even have the events still sit under the QRA banner if possible). However, I feel that the multisport nature of the Raid series of events needs to sit slightly separately from the QRA for further expansion. All the critical aspects will remain in place though: the format of racing, the organisation around timing on the calendar, the quality of the events. I’ve never been a bells and whistles kind of event organiser, and I want the Raid Adventures series to remain a “racer’s race”. Coming with me on the ride are the team from Mojo Adventure and Navis Outdoors who host excellent events in their own right and are fully supportive of the Raid concept.
As part of the expansion of the Raid events, the Rogue Raid will be joining the Adventure 1 series. When I first heard of Todd and his Adventure 1 concept, I must admit to being initially skeptical. I didn’t see how it value added to the scene just bundling a bunch of disparate races separated by thousands of kilometers together. However, after less than a year in existence, I’ve seen the positives to come from the series. Todd is obviously ready to put his money and experience where his mouth is. The fact that we saw the top four teams from south of the border travel up to Hells Bells the past weekend is evidence for the success of the series. To attract a partner like GODZone is also a feather in the cap of the series and another major reason for coming on board.
The reality is though, with The Rogue having the longest establish history of any race in the A1 series and the fact that it sells out every year, I could probably be excused from passing on the opportunity to join the series – why do I need the A1 series? The reason I said yes to the invitation is that I believe the series has the power to open the lines of communications between race directors so that adventure racing has some overall structure in Australia. Certainly Todd from A1 has taken on the job of herding cats, but the evidence is there in next year’s racing calendar: Australia is in for a smorgasbord of excellent longer format racing in 2018. With the stalwart events like XPD and GeoQuest on the calendar, plus the additional A1 series, hopefully these events will garner a bigger audience to help growth of the sport. I believe in this instance, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, and hence by joining the series I’m supporting the growth of AR in Australia. The Raid Series steps into the gap to offer teams at all levels a suite of races to build up to those longer 24 hour, 48 hour and expedition length races.
The Rogue Raid
As part of the latest announcements, I’ve also thrown in the preliminary location and dates for the Rogue Raid in 2018. I’ve yet to receive the final permits in my hand, but verbal approval has been positive. As I alluded to, the permit approval process has been a protracted one. I went a long way down the lines of trying to get permits up for this event in 2014 before they fell through at the eleventh hour, so I’m excited to finally be able to host the event at this location. Lake Samsonvale is only just now opening up for recreational activities, and they are keeping a tight lid on it. Expect all the classic elements of a Rogue Adventure race.
Sharp eyes may have spotted that the date has been pushed back two weeks from its regular slot – this is to accommodate requests of the permitting bodies (to avoid wild dog baiting!) and also to make space for the Colts Academy program. The race will remain as a team of 2 competition. It’s not that I’m not a fan of racing in a team of 4, however I believe racing as a team of 2 helps keep the barriers for entry low. However, teams that wish to qualify for the Adventure 1 series points ranking will need to enter 2 x teams of 2 and have them travel together for the whole race.
The Raid 100
I first floated the idea of a “Rogue100” event a number of years ago. Surprisingly, everyone who I’ve mentioned the idea to has demonstrated greater enthusiasm for it than I ever imagined. I finally feel that through the QRA I have the team around me to pull it off. The concept is still in early development, but the dates and event location are squared away.
It’s a risk to try something so massive. I’ve always felt 24 hours of rogaining is one of the hardest things you can do – 100 hours is going to be out there. But I’ve also found expedition racing to be very achievable. The Raid 100 course will be set so that a team just looking for an adventure can complete the minimal linear journey and see some real highlights of the course over 4 days. For more competitive teams though, expect to be racing for close the full 100 hours. The format of racing will also keep teams relatively close together. I believe through considered course setting and dedicated online tracking and reporting, this format of longer racing could be a real success. The Raid 100 will represent the expedition length option of the Adventure 1 series in 2019. It’s going to be an adventure for all involved regardless.
What About Rogue Adventure?
So what about RogueAdventure.com? It’s still going to exist. In fact the site is going to revert back to what it always was intended to be: a place for me to track my own personal racing through photos, blog posts, race reports and calendars for team Rogue. Raid Adventures will be dedicated to the race series itself.
Anyway, it’s certainly exciting times. A lot of these concepts have been boiling away slowly in the back of my mind for years now. However, the decision to make them a reality has only been a recent one, so many of the practical aspects are still being fully fleshed out. Keep an eye on the Raid Adventures site for a constant stream of updates. I look forward to having you join us on the journey.