World-class multisporter Dougal Allan and wife Amy are relishing their new life in Oamaru. They moved to the town from Wanaka just a few weeks ago and are looking forward to raising their young family in North Otago. Allan, the Challenge Wanaka winner and Australasian multisport champion, speaks to Hayden Meikle.’It feels a bit more like the real world’ in Oamaru
Oamaru is in the right part of the South Island where you’ve got oceans and mountains … Then things like schools and playgrounds, and there are beaches. Literally, everything we want is here.dd–Dougal AllanIt’s been awesome so far … there was a period in our first week here when we got a bit of snow and rain for a few days. We would have got a bit worried about that but we trusted in the fact the locals were sort of worried about it themselves, so we realised it probably wasn’t that common.
Flynn turns 2 in October … and between now and then, we are welcoming a baby girl into the world. The timing behind our move to Oamaru was quite important to us in terms of getting settled before the baby arrives.
It feels a bit more like the real world here … we can already sense some of the diversity in this town that we lacked in Wanaka. There is everyone and everything and every type in Oamaru.
Family was a big part of our decision … we put a lot of thought into where we wanted our young family to experience the world. Oamaru ticked our boxes. We wanted a place where they could enjoy the outdoors, that was small enough that we felt safe, and where we could get to know the community well. Oamaru is in the right part of the South Island where you’ve got oceans and mountains and all the things we like. Then things like schools and playgrounds, and there are beaches. Literally, everything we want is here.
As a professional athlete … I needed to know I had everything I needed to train here, and not just not be held back but potentially excel further. There are things in Oamaru you just don’t get in Wanaka.
I’m loving the cycle to Kakanui along the coast line … I’ve also been going inland through Duntroon, Tokarahi, Ngapara, those sorts of places, on beautiful roads that feel really safe. I’ve probably been a little bit of a loner when it comes to training. That was the appeal of multisport for me. I was at university and I’d lost interest in the Saturday night student culture a bit. I just wanted to run and bike. So I’m enjoying the chance here to get out on my bike on my own and it’s a bit quieter.
Over the last three weeks … I’ve averaged 25 hours a week. That’s cycling, running, swimming and gym work. That will grow as the days get longer and warmer. It’s actually the first time in my life where I’ve had the realistic opportunity to train more or less like a professional athlete.
I’m 30 now … we had a discussion and I realised something was going to have to give. I was working and training, we were expecting a second child, and I wasn’t doing any of my jobs as well as I wanted. I was spread too thinly. Realistically, the sport was going to have to go. I’m a dad and husband first. But Amy pointed out I didn’t want to have regrets. The best Ironman and adventure race athletes are usually in their mid to late 30s. Cam Brown won New Zealand ironman at 43. So I should be a long way off my peak.
When I first moved to Wanaka … it wasn’t a multisport Mecca. The place to go was Nelson – guys like Richard Ussher and Nathan Fa’avae and Trevor Voyce. There were all these Coast to Coast athletes and triathletes based in Nelson. I remember sitting down with my coach in 2010. I was going to Canada for a season of kayaking. I said I was going to move to Nelson when I came back. She asked me why, and I said I wanted to be in the multisport hub. She reckoned I should just stay in Wanaka to see it turn into a multisport hub. It just grew and grew.
It’s a little bit underground in Oamaru … but there is a good multisport community here. There are definitely plenty of people into triathlon and adventure racing. I already coach a couple of athletes, and ‘ve started running strength classes at the Rec Centre aimed at multisport types. I’m coaching Mike Sandri, who is training for a seven-day run through the Grand Canyon. He’s been huge for us in terms of asking questions about Oamaru. And he’s been doing a new kitchen for us.
nning Challenge Wanaka … was huge for me. I’d come second in so many events in the past, it almost became a case of, can you actually win a big race? No-one really remembers second place. So, purely from a results perspective, that’s my stand-out achievement. But I’ve had some amazing experiences around the world. Racing with Team Seagate in Brazil a couple of years ago was a big highlight. It was an unbelievable five days of racing with so many highs and lows, and lots of drama.
Iron distance triathlon … is my big focus now, and I’m pretty fired up to do well and improve. I did the Coast to Coast for six or seven years in a row and I would always finish and immediately get excited about doing better the next year. But that kind of wore off. So it’s all about iron distance stuff for me now. The Challenge world championships are in Germany in July next year. They’re in Roth, a town similar in size to Oamaru, and there are 250,000 spectators on the day.
I’d like to be involved … in anything happening in Oamaru. The last five or six years, I was president and committee member with the Southern Lakes Multisport Club. I’ve been told it takes a good 30-40 years to be accepted as a local here, but there might be an exception if I win Challenge Wanaka again and list Oamaru as my home town.