Written by Bruce Greenhalgh

No doubt you are aware of ‘carbon offset’ schemes that facilitate companies meeting their emission requirements by allowing them to buy credits from other companies who have excess credit or engage in activities that directly reduce carbon in the atmosphere, for example reforestation or carbon sequestration. These ‘Emission Trading Schemes’ (ETS) strike me as a bit questionable. Does this vicarious climate change action really make a difference? I’m reminded of that dieters’ joke about it being okay to drink a can of coke provided you later cancel out the calories by drinking a can of diet coke. Yeah, right.

Still, it got me thinking about the whole concept of doing things by proxy and the idea of buying credits from somebody who was doing something you didn’t want to do. The Australian Government Department of Health recommends that adults should exercise for – depending on exercise intensity – about three hours a week. There are a lot of Australians (millions!) who don’t meet the recommendation preferring to settle into the sofa with the TV remote rather than exercise. Not rogainers though, even doing a three-hour minigaine means they meet the guideline, and any other exercise done in the same week puts them in exercise credit. What if you could trade that credit to those wishing to lead more sedentary lives? If there was an ‘Exercise Trading Scheme’? Think how many exercise credits – ‘couch offsets’ – you could build up in a 24-hour event! You could get rich by rogaining.

If there was such an ETS in operation at least Steve and I would have had something to show for our endeavours at the State Champs at Oraparinna. As it stands, we only have the memory of probably our worst ever rogaine performance. Perhaps being team 13 had something to do with it.

We made an average start then made a bit of a mess of our second control wasting maybe 15 minutes. However, the mistake did focus our minds and we were making amends until we attempted control 63, the aptly nick-named ‘Labyrinth’. Arriving at the edge of the control circle we tried various strategies to locate the control without success. More lost time. We did find the control, but as much by luck as judgement.

What followed though, was a productive stretch that took us to sunset. We were moving well and generating quality exercise credits – gold standard stuff. Night fell and our run continued as we found our first ‘night’ control as planned. Then it all fell apart at control circle 63. I say ‘control circle’ because although we were certain we had reached the area of the circle we didn’t find the control. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but we reached the point when abandoning seemed the only sensible course. Then we got lost, badly lost. I don’t even want to talk about it.

We did get unlost and pressed on, but around 1.30 am I was tired and cold, with my gastro-intestinal system doing a good impersonation of the January 6 Capitol riots. I’d reached the point where exercise, even any movement, felt deleterious to my health and well-being. These were definitely not exercise hours I could trade. In fact, I’d gladly give them away, even pay somebody to take them off me. Of course, that didn’t happen. Instead, we pressed on to not find control 82. I hoisted the white flag at this point and we trudged back to the Hash House via the bitumen road. During this period Steve asked me what I would write about in my event report. ‘Don’t worry’ I replied, ‘people love hearing about other people’s misfortune. I have plenty to work with.’ And I could always write about the cold. It didn’t drop below freezing (it must have got close) and I have experienced colder, sub-zero temperatures at other rogaines, but the ‘Dragons of Dingley Dell’ rogaine wins the wind chill factor prize. It made stumbling around in the dark and not finding controls all the more fun.

We arrived at the Hash House a little after 4.00 am and while we expected nobody would be around, Chris Franklin was there to check us in and offer us food. It was a timely reminder that whether you produce a good, bad or indifferent rogaine performance it’s only possible because of the selfless work of volunteers. Thank you all. And when the new ETS scheme is up and running we must find a way of rewarding volunteers. A levy on each couch offset traded perhaps? Stayed tuned to this station for news of the development of the new ETS.