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Thought Sports Take Out The Rogue Raid

Liam St. Pierre (Rogue Raid) / 20.05.2021Live TrackingSee All Event Posts Follow Event
The race start
The race start / © Photographii/Rogue Raid

The twelfth edition of the Rogue Raid adventure race is run and done with team Thought Sports taking out the overall title, putting themselves into a commanding position in the Australian national adventure racing rankings.

The Rogue Raid adopts a unique rogaine format, where teams race for a full 24 hours in an attempt to collect the highest score possible over a series of trekking, mountain biking and kayaking stages.

The 2021 edition took place on Lake Wyaralong and the surrounding hills, including course highlights such as the Mt. Joyce ridge line and the now famous hike-a-bike over Mt. Crumpet. A total of 20 mixed teams of four competitors took to the start line vying for important series points with the Rogue Raid serving as the second race in the national Adventure1 series. They were joined by another 96 athletes racing in the pairs category, making this one of the largest 24 hour fields in the race’s history.

In the lead up to the race, all eyes were on the top five teams expected to fill out the podium steps.  The race included all three previous Australian national champions (Alpine Avengers, Thought Sports and Thunderbolt) along with the consistently competitive Rogue Adventure and Tri Adventure teams. With the temptation of the challenge to try and sweep all the check points laid out for teams, the initial racing was fast and furious. These five teams along with a number of the top Tiger Adventure teams effectively collected every check point across the initial four stages which involved a hike, kayak, hike and another kayak stage, bringing teams in just as the sun started to set and things got tricky.

As expected, it was the paddling strength and speed of team Alpine Avengers that lead the way off the stage 4 kayak leg. They were followed just 20 minutes later by team Thought Sports with Rogue, Tri Adventure and Thunderbolt another 10 to 15 minutes further back, all with full scorecards. But it was on the biggest trekking stage of the race where things were blown apart.

Thought Sports on the water

Teams started to make critical navigational errors in the dark and tricky terrain. The Alpine Avengers were first to drop a control, picking the wrong spur and missing check point (CP) 29. At the same time, Thought Sports made an uncharacteristic parallel error. Team Rogue had trouble early on with CP19 and were joined by Tri Adventure in an energy sapping mistake coming off the ridge from CP30. Generally team Thunderbolt had the best of the navigation and the cleanest run, notably opting to tackle the trek stages in the opposite direction to the other top teams, albeit generally moving at a slightly slower pace. A full replay of the GPS tracking can be found here.

What soon became apparent to the teams was that they were now behind their planned schedules and that they would need to start dropping check points. All of a sudden, check point values came into play as teams began to make strategic decisions on which controls to collect and which they could afford to miss. Coming off Stage 5, Thought Sports were the only leading team to still have swept the course, although they were now 35 minutes behind the Avengers with the other teams trailing slightly further back in both time and points, yet still within grasping distance of the title: everything was left to play for.

Heading into Stage 6, teams climbed on their mountain bikes for the first time in the race. At only 70km long, what the mountain bike lacked in distance it certainly made up for in technical and navigational difficulty. The stage included navigation through the vague farming tracks of the Overflow Estate property with a number of cross country options, the maze of trails cut by dirt bikes in the Queensland Moto Park and finished with a ride around the northern shoreline trail of Lake Wyaralong and through the single track network of the Mt Joyce Mountain Bike Park.  But hidden amongst those challenges was the much discussed 5km hike-a-bike section that took teams over Mt. Crumpet and connected the stage together.

It was a long, tough night for all teams, not just the leaders, as they picked their way over the hike-a-bike which on average took teams 2-3 hours. By this stage, even Thought Sports were dropping check points. With the Alpine Avengers out ahead on course and the other teams opting for different controls, it really was anyone’s race when teams came back into race HQ with just an optional kayak leg and trekking stage on offer. From there a number of different strategies played out.

Thunderbolt at a checkpoint

Team Rogue decided to focus on check points in the mountain bike park during the proceeding stage followed by a truncated paddle leg. Teams Tri Adventure, Alpine Avengers and eventually Thunderbolt decided to do as much of the kayak leg as possible whilst dropping the final trek leg completely. Meanwhile team Thought Sports picked the eye out of the kayak leg, just collecting three high value check points before a mad dash to run down some high value check points on the final trek leg.

In the end, it was Thought Sport’s strategy and willingness to push to the very last moments that netted them a win. They came in just 30 points ahead of Thunderbolt in second place, with the Alpine Avengers rounding out the podium just another 30 points behind (effectively a difference of just one checkpoint separating podium places).

Thunderbolt must be commended on an outstanding performance. Whilst never quite moving as fast as the other teams, they had the cleanest run navigationally to secure them second place and move them into second overall in the 2021 national rankings – the return of experienced campaigner Hugh Stoddart definitely payed dividends.

So with their win at Explore Gippsland and the Rogue Raid, Thought Sports take a commanding lead in the Adventure 1 Australia series. With two races to go, it’s going to take an upset to knock them off their perch, but we’ve seen it happen before – they still need to finish strongly in the remaining races. The results from this second round of racing see Thunderbolt climb one place into second and team Rogue slip to third. You can never discount last season’s title holders Alpine Avengers though, who will certainly be coming hard for teams over the final races of the season.

Once again, the Rogue Raid format delivered some exciting and strategic adventure racing. The rogaine format pushes teams for the full 24 hours over a navigationally and technically challenging course, while still being accessible at all levels of racing. It should be noted that there were only five DNF teams in field of 68 teams, which is a remarkable completion rate for an adventure race this tough. All teams should be commended on their efforts, not just the leaders – particularly those crazy enough to take on the now infamous hike-a-bike.

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