“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand” – Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

While your temple may be a dome tent with a wobbly card table out the front, there is something to be taken from Sun’s wise words. It’s no surprise that the top rogainers precede 24 hours of jogging by 3 hours of serious cogitation. In rogaining, route planning can be the key to a great event.

Here are a few ideas to help you plan a nice route.

How far are you likely to walk?

This is the starting point for your route planning. There’s no point trying to clean up the course if you only want to walk 10km (unless you brought your secret jet pack).

Will you stay out for the full time? Do you normally take breaks?

On a treadmill you might do 6km/hr. However, in rogaining an average speed for working out your distance might be 4km/hr. This allows for negotiating fences, walking around unforeseen obstacles, stopping to look at your map, etc. With a speed and a time you can get a guess for how far you might go. Now you’re on the right path.

Play to your strengths or interests

If you have a longing for lookouts, a hankering for hills or a penchant for pines, then tailor your route to suit. Personally, I think gorges are gorgeous and always put them on my route.

Alternatively, if hills remind you of the thigh master at the gym, just leave them out! You’ll find the going much easier if your route reflects your personal preferences.

Points per kilometre

Yes, there are a bunch of 90 pointers up the top of the map. The problem is that you have to walk a long way to get in amongst them. Think of a few different options for routes and use a piece of string or your compass ruler to work out the distance. Then sum up the points and workout which gives you the best points per kilometre. Beware: you need to make some allowance for hills when doing this.

You can even break this down a bit. Maybe you know you’re heading north to go to the gorge, and think it would be good to go to the water drop beforehand. Therefore you have a section of your route to look at – the Hash House to the water drop. Look at a few different routes and work out the points per kilometre. Do this for a few more sections and you can piece together a full route.

Bail out points

No matter how good your route planning, usually things don’t always go to plan. That’s why it’s a good idea to allow for some bail out points along the way. That means choosing some points where you can take a shorter route home if you’re behind where you thought you might be. It may mean chopping off that sequence out to the far 90 pointer, or skimming off the 40 pointer which you thought was only going to be a “nice to have”.

The route home

The Hash House is a wonderful place to be at the end of an event – so make sure you get there! Often you’re walking to the Hash House in the dark, which can be a navigational challenge for many people. Also, you’re probably a little more tired than when you left the HH. Sometimes it can be a good idea to plan a route back that takes you along a road or track, away from big hills and to controls which aren’t too hard to get. It’s a nice feeling when you know you only have to follow a well defined feature to get back to that camp fire and hot stew!