Metrogaine Jo’burg lights up Norwood

The third Metrogaine Jo’burg took place on Tuesday (11 Oct) through the suburbs of Norwood, Houghton, Oaklands, Orchards and Orange Grove.

These suburbs, like at the previous Metrogaine Jo’burg from Zoo Lake, are well suited to metrogaining because there are very few road closures, which opens up route choice options.


All participants received a Metrogaine Jo’burg reflective slapband, which can be worn on upper arm, wrist or ankle. Although it is a super memento, it serves a safety purpose. You can’t have enough reflective goodies. Bibs are still recommended in addition to the slapbands.


I went crazy with controls, setting up a vast number to accommodate walkers (many controls close to home) and fast runners. This is the thing with any rogaine format; even the top runners should have a choice in which controls to get and to leave – it really is no fun when you’re able to get everything in the allocated time period.

I have included below a couple of routes taken by runners.

With Tony Abbott stuck in traffic, Alex Pope ran as a solo and was thus an unofficial finisher. But his route is great to check out as he obtained the highest score, even with a 50 point penalty for being late. Nathan Thompson and Michael Crone won the 1h30 course overall and are also indicated on the map. Piers Pirow, who has an ankle injury, gave the course a go on his mountain bike. He did say that even though his route was a bad one, he did find mountain biking in this environment to be really slow. It is far more efficient to be on foot.

Mark Dickson and Gareth Evans covered 12-kilometres and collected 730 points to place as the 4th male pair (8th overall) on the 90-minute course. Stijn and Fran Laenen were third overall on the one-hour course. They collected 550 points.

There were 49 controls out there and a total of 1780 points up for grabs.


There were a few gremlins out on the course. As I always say in the briefing, if you find something weird out there, don’t hunt, move on and let me know about it afterwards. With 49 controls out there, even though I aim for zero errors, they can happen.

The first was #49 where the green cement cylinder is no longer there. Although I generally select controls that are permanent fixtures, I can’t resist something a little more fun and in the time that this control was ‘placed’ the large green cylinder was removed (only the two white ones remain) and the house has almost been completed.

I haven’t been out to confirm but I think I must have placed the control for #35 on the wrong block – incorrect by one road. I had the answer down as being a blue wall, but 17 of the 18 pairs who went to this control said it was a white wall. The one pair who got the ‘correct’ answer must have done what I did. I have awarded the points to these pairs.

Control #31 – seems people couldn’t decide whether the wall was white or grey but looking at the stats… 23 pairs went to this control. 19 said it was white, 2 said it was grey and two were uncertain. I’ve kept the answer as white and the scores stay as is.

Control #45 The lights on the wall at house #44. Seems that the house number is #45… 13 pairs went to this control and all got it correct, bar one pair.

Palm trees at control #39… My control circle was a little South of the correct location. The answer was 2 – the two palm trees together on the corner. Little did I know that there were other palm trees around. I didn’t even notice them. Serves me right for peeking at the palm trees from the park instead of checking out the area around them too! If people said 4, they also got the points.

It is always important to remember that I try to look for things that will be visually clear to you at night. I’m scouting during the day but even so remember that the feature should be clear. The centre of the control circle is the control location, it is appropriately placed on the map indicating placement on the block and also the side of the road and the item will never be hidden behind a wall.


For me, Metrogaine Jo’burg events are about utilising our suburbs for more than driving through and as access to our houses into which we lock ourselves. As one participant, Bronwyn Hemer, said afterwards, “I enjoyed being out and about last night in a suburb that has so many people walking around at night. It reminded me of my childhood.”

As someone who lacks sentimentality and throws away 98% of the medals and trophies I receive at races, these won’t ever be included in Metrogaine Jo’burg events. For me, taking part in any event is about the sport, the race, the challenge. Not about stuff. That’s also why Metrogaine Jo’burg can keep its low entry fee of R45pp, which covers slapbands and maps and keeps the event self-sufficient, not requiring sponsorship.

The control sheet marking process is improving with each event but it still remains a time-consuming, manual process. I have an improved idea for the next one, which will be in April 2012. This should speed up the process dramatically. Post-event, I do go through every single one to check marking and adding. As a result, some results have changed slightly.

Because of this, the whole results aspect of Metrogaine Jo’burg is low-key. People are encouraged to hang around afterwards to socialise and the results string goes up with control sheets added as they’re marked – participants get an idea of their placing.

Winners in the categories on each course get free entry to the next event. For this event I have two gifts and free entries for the pairs who collected the least number of points (excluding penalties) and most value for money (longest time out there).


  • First male pair (overall winner: )Nathan Thompson & Michael Crone
  • First mixed pair: Jane Swarbreck & Anthony Mundy-Castle
  • First female pair: Lauren Freemantle & Zoe Goodbrand

One-hour course

  • First female pair (overall winner): Sarah Pope & Magi Lingnau
  • First male pair: Andrew Wiggett & Caroline Wiggett
  • First male pair: Patrick de Jongh & Ryan Burger

Lowest point score: Jonty Pile & Jacqui Glover (40 points on the one-hour course; first timers – they’ll get better with practise, which is why they get a free entry too)

Most value for money: Kim van Der Lith & Esti Louw (they spent 1h50 on the 1h30 course)

Full results are available here. (Excel file)


Thanks first to you, the enthusiastic participants who have taken to metrogaining like a duck to water. I’d like to encourage you to consider entering the annual foot and mtb rogaine next year (too late for this year’s event, which happens this coming weekend) and also regular orienteering events. The annual rogaine is held  in forests with the longest course being limited to eight hours for the foot rogaine and five hours for the MTB rogaine. Information on the sport of orienteering is available on

Fred Richardson and his son, Mike, assisted with control placements; Ray Chaplin accompanied me on one of the scouting outings.

On the night, Nico van Hoepen came through and assisted with finish times; Ray and Fred took on the task of marking control sheets. Mike ran between the finish and the markers; Pam handed out cupcakes and stapled results… many hands make light work. Thank you.

Photos from Metrogaine Jo’burg, Norwood are available on Fred’s Facebook page.

Details for the next event (11 April 2012) will be available on this page on