Racing through Melville with Metrogaine Jo’burg

The first Metrogaine Jo’burg event of the year took to the streets of Melville. This old suburb is well suited to the sport of urban rogaining with its small blocks, interesting streets, abundance of hills, lack of road closures and quaint pedestrian accesses.

Interest in these Metrogaine events has grown steadily from the first event held on this same date last year (11 April,’s birthday) where there were a total of 54 participants (72 at the June 2011 winter event and 126 runners in October 2011). This time 230 runners were registered and 192 made the start line last night. Many were newcomers to this discipline.

I think that this was my most cunning course so far. May they continue to challenge, entertain and delight both experienced orienteers and those new to rogaining.


I shouldn’t be surprised but I’m always totally impressed by the points scored and distance run by the top pairs. Winners of the June 2011 event, Brian Gardner and Neal Markham were top of the list on the 1h30 course with an unbelievable 1540 (of the total 1640 points available) scored. They ran about 19km in 1:28:48 – perfectly timed. Alex Pope and Jeremy Green were hot on their heels – they collected 1410 points. They were just ahead of Michael Crone and Garry Morrison with their 1530 score, only 20 points ahead of Tony Abbott and Nico van Hoepen.

Lizelle Smit and Charl Keet were 7th overall and the first mixed pair with their score of 1190 points. Francis Rogan and Sheelagh Bailey were the first women’s pair – in 16th place overall with 880 points.

A very special mention goes to the youthful pair of Timothy Chambers and Christian Dlamini for their 6th place overall and 1250 point score. They’re both still in school! Timothy is in the SA Junior Orienteering squad and has been orienteering for a few years. Christian is a more recent newcomer to the sport. Excellent navigation and fast running makes this duo extremely competitive despite being teens.

Stefan Meyer and Christo du Plooy get the ‘Most Value’ award. They spent 1:39 on the course to finish just over nine-minutes late.

Warren Mostert and Robyn Beater are our ‘Piggy in the Middle’ recipients.

67 pairs took on the 90-minute course.

Map of routes run (click on map for bigger image)

Orange and blue lines = anti-clockwise from start. Green line – clockwise from start.

On the one-hour course…

Steven Yates and Andrew Wiggett took the win with 880 points overall in 59:07; yes, only 53 seconds to spare. Behind them was the first women’s pair, placing 2nd overall – Sarah Pope and Magi Lingnau (750 points). And only just behind them was the first mixed pair of Stijn and Fran Laenen.

There were 29 pairs on the one-hour course.

All category winners, including ‘Piggy in the Middle’ and ‘Most Value’ get free entry to the Winter Solstice event on 21 June 2012.


I’m delighted to say that they were few and far between. My standing rule is that runners should never to hunt for the answer – it will be obvious if you’re in the right place. I’m happy to deal with queries at the end and if other teams have the same query I’ll award the points without hesitation. Most of these controls were scouted six-weeks ago and although I aim for clues that shouldn’t change, they can. Also, I may make an error when plotting the points or typing the clues (battling to read my scribble weeks later!).

#57 – number of traffic lights… I counted 5. Most counted 6. Seems that I counted the yellow poles but there was another lamp post that also had traffic lights attached to it. Either answer got points.

#58 – the bus shelter. The ‘number plate’ on the shelter was AWOL. Points were awarded to those who queried it. They wouldn’t have known the number was gone if they hadn’t been there.


Ever innovating and improving, this event saw a few changes. Contour lines were added to the map to assist and improve your route choices – especially for the stronger navigators. Even though the hills couldn’t be avoided, it did help some to choose a flatter route while others used them to guide their direction around the course to minimise the agony. My thanks to Cheryl from NGI for the orthophotos from which I traced the contours.

This time the pairs marked their own clue sheets to speed up the results process. As explained at the race briefing, Metrogaine Jo’burg is a fun event. Sure, it’s competitive but the event is primarily about running and playing at night so any cheating in scores is really cheating yourself. In compiling the results I checked the marking and calculations of the top ranked pairs and odd addition here and there. They all are above board with teams penalising themselves where valid. I’ll continue to use this system.

Chocolate-dipped fortune cookies replaced the traditional home-baked cupcakes. With over 200 runners entered it would take me two days to bake and ice this many cupcakes! The fortune cookies with their special Metrogaine Jo’burg fortunes proved popular and not a crumb was left. The fortunes were customised – inspirational and motivating fortunes with a running and endurance theme.

Improvements to come

I’ve got a plan to speed up registration for the winter event. 100 pairs, most arriving around the same time, is a lot to accommodate. We’re learning as we go. Luckily, despite the queue the event started on time.

Happy helpers

Fred, Pam, Mike and Kyle were my happy helpers. Thank you team! Also special thanks to Ilse who jumped in during the registration process to marshal the people in the queue to speed up the check-in process.

My thanks too goes to Refilwe, the centre manager of Campus Square for so kindly and enthusiastically accommodating this event.

And thank you to all of you for enthusiastically participating.


*Photos above by Fred Richardson.

Winter Metrogaine Jo’burg – 21 June 2012

Entries will open by the end of April once the start venue is finalised. Entries will be limited to 100 pairs and all entries will be done online. Don’t be put off by this race being in the deepest, darkest part of winter – running is the best way to get warm.

Thursday, 21 June 2012 (deepest, darkest day of winter – winter solstice). In winter it is warmer to be running than sitting at home doin’ nuthin’.