AN UNSUNG HERO – A COMPETITOR STORY

It is Day 8 of the Carnival (the Australian Long Distance Champs at Nuggety Range) – quite warm – the “hottest day so far” and the effect of the sun was to increase the humidity to saturation.  Well that was what it felt like as I carried my O gear through the car park prior to heading off home.  

I passed a large gentleman sitting on the tray of his car hydrating himself.  He was almost grey with dehydration, covered in sweat and in quite a bit of distress.  I asked him for the second time that day, “are you OK?”  

“Yep” he answered and added wearily “I’m all done in”.

I replied: “Were you successful in getting the roo out?”

“Yeah, all good”, he answered.

I added: ” You are a good man and well done for that.”  

He replied “Ta, thanks”.

Just what had he done?  

I was on Course 6 like many others and had made the absolutely worst route choice of all time.  After climbing the hill to Control 9 (#74) I continued up and up, then along the contour, down the ridge into a valley past a bunch of pits. I was on my way to finishing when I saw this guy with a lump of wood in his hands clearing away some blackberries.  It appeared to be a very strange thing to do, so I asked him: “Are you OK?” 

He replied: “Yeah”.  

Then I asked: “What are you doing?”

He said: “There’s a kangaroo stuck down a hole and I’m getting him out!”

I asked: “Do you need some help?

He said: “Nah!……. I’ll be all right.” 

I said: “Good luck mate!” and continued on with my course.

Animals like kangaroos are a part of Orienteering in Australia.  Where I come from (WA), we have them moving about on our courses and we see their tracks and nesting places.  During this Carnival we saw them crossing our paths many times.  At Mt Alexander we saw a roo gracefully jumping over fences at the finish chute; and we saw the two terrified roos in the arena at the Relays, trying to get away from the waiting competitors by bounding up the cliffs either side of the chute.  At Orange last year, along one of my last legs we saw the worst consequence – a roo covered in blood from a broken leg  (the call went out for a vet to put it down).

All I want to say is that we have heroes out there who may not, in the scheme of things, be recognised for their efforts.  Why would someone give up their course to save a roo?  

I heard someone say once “there are more of them where they come from”.  That may be so, but there are 8 billion of us on this planet so why save a life?  The problem is, it may be your life that we are saving. It is time I think we should say “thank you” to this good man who showed great empathy and willingness to do something (I think) that very few of us would do.

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