SARA’s roving reporter, Bruce Greenhalgh, shares his thoughts on 2022’s final rogaine – the West Side Story Minigaine

Lying on a concrete footpath isn’t something that normally has any appeal for me, yet immediately after November’s Minigaine it was not only all I wanted to do, but all I could do. I was spent. It’s true that I could have chosen to lie on lawn, but the grassed area in front of the Hash House had little breeze, and I needed a breeze, and walking to the oval beyond the car park where there was both breeze and lawn was beyond me. And as I lay there, I couldn’t help but think that maybe I was getting too old for this sort of thing.

And there was a clue, wasn’t there, in the name of the rogaine, West Side Story? A clue that it wasn’t an activity aimed at senior citizens? Anybody familiar with the musical will know it’s about young people; young people with the energy to dance, to fight, to fall in love, to dash around and do dramatic things. Just thinking about all that activity makes me pine for a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. I’m also led to consider that West Side Story is based on Romeo and Juliet and to contemplate the emotional freight carried by the young protagonists during the closing scene of Shakespeare’s play. In case you’ve forgotten what happens to the ‘star-crossed lovers’, Juliet takes a potion that makes here appear to be dead so as to avoid getting married to somebody who isn’t Romeo. Unfortunately, Romeo sees her in this death like state and thinking she has died and that life isn’t worth living without her, he tops himself. Then Juliet revives and does the same – an episode that has been described as ‘one helluva first date’. I ask you, is this sort of carry-on the territory of holders of a Seniors Card? Clearly not.

While ageing doesn’t do much for your energy levels, it does have its compensations. In the case of this Minigaine it was the ability to compare the area with my memories of it from the 1970s and 80s when I last had call to frequent the locale. The Saint Clair Recreation Centre has changed immensely, ditto the Ferryden and Mansfield Park suburbs. Fortunately, other suburbs, those replete with older homes, have changed little with the passage of time only adding to their charm. I did have some qualms about a rogaine set on entirely flat land in the ‘burbs, but the area has a real diversity that added interest and my concerns were dispelled. The ‘no hills’ nature of the course even added an extra test in planning. All our understanding of how much ground we can cover in a given time is based on hilly terrain. Being all flat the map had us thinking hard, as did the system of bonus points (collect all the 20 point controls and get an extra 20 points etc). We ended up using all the available planning time for, would you believe, planning.

This flat, suburban take on rogaining was something of a re-invention of the sport and just as West Side Story was a successful adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, so this rogaine was a success for  debutant setters Shanti Osborne and Sef van den Nieuwelaar and a credit to all the volunteers. Well done.

My only disappointment was in not picking up any of the pegs at controls that gave bonus points. We looked hopefully at controls we figured we were the first to visit and remained mindful of the possibility of bonus points as time wore on, but we didn’t get lucky. Never mind. Having stated that I can now segue into a slightly altered version of the West Side Story song, Somewhere

‘There’s a peg for us
Somewhere a peg for us
Pegs and points around St Clair
Wait for us
(with apologies to Leonard Bernstein)