by Steven Frigo

I wrote this a year ago but didn’t get around to submitting it but on Saturday at the Mount Barker Lakes Rogaine, Peter Milnes jokingly asked “Are you still rogaining?” and I realised my enthusiasm for the sport is still 110%. The twilight event in March 2021 was my 50th rogaine, and I offer my recollections of this adventure strategy sport, which is so much more than that.

We curse the dark, the wind, the blisters, the head of the watercourse, the watercourse junction, the watercourse bend…… everything about the watercourse, but the moment we cross the finish line all is forgiven.

My first two events were AUMC 24 hour walks; Williamstown in May 1979 and Eden Valley 1980. All I remember was that we had to mark up our maps with the coordinates of the controls, and we were cold. It was another 23 years before I was ready to start again.

We entered the Emu Springs 8 hour event in 2003. This was my first meeting with Des Norman. We were hopelessly under prepared, arrived just before the start, registered, and headed off. No planning, no calculations, no contingencies. We spent the last four hours dispiritedly meandering back to the hash house with no more controls. We crossed the finish line and I was hooked. I have teamed up with Des a dozen times. The AUMC 24Hr at Bendleby in 2008 was an amazing experience. Des showed his determination and grit to keep us going, but at 2am we were both loopy and the compass and map were lying to us.

At Onkaparinga in 2007, Shaw Callen and I hacked through the scrub in the gorge on a very hot afternoon. The only way to the 100 pointer was to swim. This just made you sticky, and made the scratches on legs and arms itchy. We crawled up out of the gorge and ran back exhausted with a minute to spare. Des and Paul Hoopman won that event. Paul casually said afterwards “Why would you bother going into the gorge?”. Why indeed.

Simon Young and I teamed up for the first time in 2011. He always had a great sense of where we were. Always getting us out of trouble, consulting the map on moonless, featureless nights and skilfully getting us un-lost. He has a memory for detail and years later will say “This reminds me of the watercourse on the way to control 31 at the Wirrabara Rogaine in 2012”. Hmmm, I think I remember the year 2012. Just after 2011, correct?

My current team mate had heard of my rogaining, but had the impression it was a tortuous, tiring, slog (occasionally true). I hadn’t explained that a 12 hour rogaine didn’t mean you had to be on course for 12 hours. On her first rogaine, at Almerta Station, her eyes lit up when we found lollies at our second control. Later she was treated to the fantastic Hash House food. She was hooked.

For me all these experiences are key to why I am still rogaining. Treasure hunts looking for white and orange squares, lollies, making new friends, all such a wonderful adventure. I look forward to another 50 rogaines with more of these treasured times.