Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, Doug. You’re organising the upcoming Velogaine – what is your first love – cycling or running/hiking?
That’s a really hard question. I spend a lot of time on my bikes and they give me that intensity of physical exercise and time to think and solve problems. So quite a solo experience. Rogaining delivers some very different things that I love. It’s conducted in the bush in really interesting places, physical effort, there’s the element of teams, mateship and strategy, the challenge of navigation and the great camaraderie of the sport. It strips away anything artificial from people – after 24 hours of rogaining you see them unfiltered.
How did you become a rogainer?
By accident really. Way back an Army mate asked me if I wanted to form a team for this rogaining thing. We were posted at Wodonga at the time and once he explained it was like score-orienteering, I was in. Turned out that’s about all he knew. The event was the Victorian Rogaining Association 1983 Spring 12-Hour at Tonimbuk, just east of the Dandenongs. We really had no idea and drove 5 hours down from Wodonga on the Saturday morning stopping to buy two orange Eveready Dolphin torches and a tent on the way. In those days you had to mark up your own blank topo map from a master map. By the time we got there it was about 1130 hr and people were already assembling for the start briefing. So we scribbled some of the controls onto our maps, leaving off any we didn’t think we’d get to, threw some contact adhesive plastic onto it to stop the paper wearing away and ran off after the crowd at about 1210. Our planning was awful and, to make matters worse, in most cases our control “circles” weren’t even in the same spot between our two maps. We visited 25 control locations only finding 22 controls. But through sheer enthusiasm, and the tolerance of pain as a 23-year old male, we came 7th out of 136 teams. I was hooked. I moved to Melbourne the next year and before I knew it I was VRA Secretary.