Locals in rogaining championships

Greg King and Andy Macqueen: Came in in third place in the world titles in Latvia.

Greg King and Andy Macqueen: Came in in third place in the world titles in Latvia.

Two members of the Springwood Bushwalking Club, Andy Macqueen and Greg King, recently took third place in the Ultra-Veteran (65+) class at the World Rogaining Championships, held in Latvia. This follows their success in the Australian Championships in May, when they took first place in the Super Veteran (55+) class.

Rogaining could be described as extreme orienteering. The aim is to collect as many points as you can from a huge array of checkpoints, all with different values. Championship events are 24 hours. It’s a test of fitness, nimbleness in rough conditions, endurance, navigation and strategy. Navigation is by map and compass only, and night-navigation skills are essential to be competitive.

In the Latvia event. Macqueen and King covered over 80 kilometres, in conditions unlike anything they’ve experienced in Australia. They had to negotiate swamps, scrub, dense forests and beaver dams as they went. Muddy feet brought on blisters, causing many competitors to withdraw early.

The challenge was compounded by what Macqueen called “hemisphere syndrome”, whereby one’s sense of direction can be completely upset in the northern hemisphere because of the position of the sun. At one stage in Latvia this caused them temporary confusion, and Macqueen joked that it was only by sudden inspiration on King’s part that they aren’t today lost somewhere in nearby Russia.

Newcomers of all ages are always welcome to try their hand at rogaining. Several events are held each year by the NSW Rogaining Association (see www.nswrogaining.org). You get to see lovely places you’d never visit otherwise - but of course there’s usually no time to loiter.

Macqueen and King don’t always bushwalk at “rogaine speed”. Both long-time members of Springwood Bushwalking Club, they’ve been on countless more conventional walks in the Blue Mountains.

Springwood Bushwalking Club provides opportunities for everyone, from easy day-walks to multi-day wilderness walks. See www.springwoodbushwalker.org.au.