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Interview Chris Solnordal

Chris Solnordal

VRA Secretary (1 year); VRA Vice President (1 year); VRA President (3 years).

1.     When did you first rogaine?

MUMC 24 hour walk, 1983

2.     How many rogaines do you think you have competed in?

Around 50 or so

3.     Describe your most memorable/strangest moment rogaining?

Drinking champagne at the top of Mt Torbreck during the Cross Your Rubicon 50hr rogaine in 1997. The checkpoint was set up so that the more time you spent at it eating and drinking, the more points you got. Most people scuttled off as quickly as possible, but we relaxed and spent the full 30 minutes there as the MUMC "staff", dressed in back tie I believe, served us champagne and cake.

4.     What’s been the hardest moment on a rogaine?

Probably the first time I tried to go through the night on a 24 hour event. It was the 1984 MUMC 24 hour walk. We had been warned that long pants were essential, as the sward grass on the course was severe. I ignored this advice and to this day I still have faint scars on my legs. In the meantime, we had no adequate torches for the event. I had brought my bike light which actually needed a new battery, and my team mate also had something hopeless ... or perhaps we only had one torch between us! And I think our food supplies were hopelessly inadequate. And the map was a black and white thing printed on very flimsy paper and we had brought no method of protecting it. 

Anyway, at some time several hours after midnight we found ourselves at the junction of two tracks, with a hopelessly shredded map, shredded and screaming legs, and a single torch that would provide a brief glimmer of light for about a second when you first turned it on, after which it become completely dead. But if we waited a few minutes we could get another brief glimmer of light from the torch. We were huddled over the map, with our dead torch, saying "ready, set, go!" as we turned it on and tried desperately to see if we were where we thought we were on the map before the torchlight disappeared. We sank further and further towards the ground and ended up lying down with the map between us. After a few more tries we found it was becoming easier to actually see the map and we finally realised that dawn had begun. We rejoiced and staggered to our feet and wandered on.

Once the day was truly light on the Sunday morning we started to get attacked by Sleep Monsters. Each step had the whole world shaking around me, and if I moved my head too quickly my vision would spin and blur. We headed back to the Hash House feeling physically ill and hungry but also sick in the stomach, and arrived there by about 8.30am. We went straight to bed and slept right through the final event food and presentations for the winners. It wasn't the best event I had ever done.

But the next event we did, we brought the rechargeable battery-powered searchlight from my team mate's father's boat. Overcompensation, but we were not going to let that happen again!

5.     What’s been your greatest triumph rogaining?

Either winning the Handicap Challenge Trophy at the Redcastle rogaine in about 1996, or else coming (I think) third with Ivana Cicchelli at a metrogaine in the Dandenongs during a 38 degree Total Fire ban day.

6.     What is your favourite geographic area to rogaine in?

I think the East MacDonnell Ranges AusChamps in 2008, or else any event in the Strathbogie Ranges in Victoria. I like the mixture of open and forested country.

7.     How has rogaining changed since you started competing?

Not a lot. The basic premise is still the same, although not having to mark your own checkpoints on the map using grid references is fantastic. One thing that was particularly exciting for my first three rogaines, as they we're all MUMC 24 Hour walks, was you turned up at Melbourne Uni and got on a bus, destination unknown. You were then handed a map sheet to mark the checkpoints on and you didn't know what the terrain was really like until you arrived there.

8.     How has being involved in rogaining changed you?

When I first heard of such events it seemed like a perfect fit to all the things I really enjoyed in terms of outdoor activities. So it is not so much that rogaining has changed me: rather, rogaining was my idea of the perfect sport. I love it just as much today as I did in 1983.


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