Monday, 22 July 2024 11:53:46

History of rogaining

The history of rogaining

The concept of rogaining as a sport in its own right originated in Australia and traces its origin to the first public twenty-four hour event in 1972 and the first rogaine in 1976. However, for thirty years previously, university groups had organized related events.

The early Australian events

Rogaining can trace its roots back to the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club twenty-four hour walk in 1947 when Bill Bewsher sent five entrants through thickly timbered country between Warburton and Hurstbridge over Mt Donna Buang near Melbourne. Bill and Ian Leslie formed one team, geologists John McAndrew and Peter Crohn the other team and Noel Stephens swapped teams whenever the parties crossed paths. Thus began a tradition of mid-winter twenty-four hour walks.

In 1961, Ted Lovegrove moved from Melbourne to Adelaide and helped found the Adelaide University Mountain Club. The following year, he organized the first Adelaide University twenty-four hour walk. In 1963, Max Corry proposed that MUMC set up an intervarsity competition and unofficial contests between Melbourne, Monash, Adelaide and Newcastle universities were held from 1964 to 1968. These 'Intervarsity Mountaineering' events have been run ever since. The first rules were significant in that they specified a score event rather than a line event as hitherto favoured by Melbourne and Monash Universities.

In 1972, the Surrey Thomas Rover Crew (STR) undertook to run an annual twenty-four hour event for the public. The advent of this event was catalytic for the sport, attracting competitors who were entering several rogaines per year. This led to considerable improvements in competitive and organizational standards and significant transfer of ideas between the various groups. It was also obvious that some form of co-ordination was going to become necessary between the regular Melbourne University, Surrey Thomas Rovers, intervarsity, Monash and South Australian events. Perhaps the main realization to come out of the early 1970's was that the sport of twenty-four hour cross-country navigation had a far wider appeal and marketing potential than had been previously thought.

Rogaining - a sport is born

In 1976, there was one main issue preventing this activity developing into a significant sport. The concept of the sport was recognized but it had no name and hence little coherent life. Then, what had been a game to develop titles for events led to a name for the sport and a tradition of memorable names for key rogaines. The word "rogaine" was coined from the names of the organizers of a twenty-four hour hike in 1976, RO(d) GAI(l) NE(il), and was retained for subsequent events. When the Victorian Rogaining Association was formed, its members adopted "rogaining" as the name of their sport of long distance cross country navigation and the term was quickly adopted by the Scouting Association, Intervarsity Sports Association and university hiking clubs to give the new sport an identity in its own right. Soon the media, governments and international dictionaries had recognized 'rogaine' and 'rogaining' as new words in common use for a sport with distinctive characteristics of navigational competence, teamwork, self-reliance and endurance. The rogaining logo of the mountain in sun and darkness was designed by Sue Grice in 1978 and epitomizes the essential characteristics that set rogaining apart from most other forms of human endeavour.

One of the new association's first aims was to run an enthusiastic promotion campaign aimed towards the general public and within four years it had over a thousand members. Another aim was to initiate a state rogaining championship. Through an alliance with the Surrey Thomas Rovers, the first Victorian Rogaining Championships were held in December, 1976, in conjunction with the annual Surrey Thomas Rovers rogaine. The site for the rogaine at Tallarook was particularly popular - a forested granite plateau with a steep slope leading down to surrounding foothills. The cooperation between the Victorian Rogaining Association and Surrey Thomas Rovers continued for two decades. National rogaining championships and formation of a coordinating body.

By 1979, there was a clear need for a national body to take over the role of promoting the sport at a national and international level. Therefore, in February 1979, the Australian Rogaining Association was formed, with Victoria as its only member. No other rogaining association existed at that time.

Several months of planning led to the first Australian Rogaining Championships at Tallarook. In 1980, the Australian Rogaining Association developed guidelines for organizers and rules for the sport at a championship level. These rules reflect the new status of rogaining as a sport but still owe much of their character to the original rules prepared by David Hogg for the university competition. With international developments in rogaining, the Australian Rogaining Association has played a leading role in updating and maintaining the rules of the sport and the technical standards expected at major rogaines. Other major achievements of the Australian Rogaining Association have been the development of state rogaining associations in all other Australian states, continuation of the Australian Rogaining Championships as an annual event, strong support for the International Rogaining Federation, and financial and logistic backing of overseas rogaines.

Early in 1989, a planning group of Neil Phillips (Australia), Richard Matthews (Australia), David Stephens (Australia), Bob Reddick (USA), Pat Albright (USA) Andrew Newson (Canada), Ron Andrews (Canada) and Rod Phillips (Australia) began work towards the formation of an international organization for rogaining. On June 16th, 1989, the International Rogaining Federation (IRF) was formed at its inaugural meeting in Calgary, Canada, with Neil Phillips and Richard Matthews as president and vice-president respectively.

Before the formation of the International Rogaining Federation in 1989, four rogaines had been held outside Australia, all in western Canada. Five years later, fifteen different centres in New Zealand, United States and Canada had run a total of forty rogaines. Highlights in the early years of international rogaining included the Most Awesome Rogaine in Alberta, Canada, the 1st World Rogaining Championships near Melbourne, Australia, the 2nd World Rogaining Championships in Western Australia and the 3rd World Rogaining Championships in British Columbia.

History of rogaining in Canada (by Murray Foubister)

Murray Foubister organized the early Sage rogaines in British Columbia and was course setter for the 3rd World Rogaining Championships at Kamloops. He has represented Canada on the International Rogaining Federation since its foundation.

The first 24 hour rogaine outside of Australia was held in the western part of Alberta, Canada, in 1986. Andy Newson, Kitty Jones and Jim Force selected an area in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, just outside Banff National Park. The 80 competitors had such a good time that the whole exercise was repeated in 1987. This time, thanks to keen interest and competition amongst various military groups, there were over 200 entrants. Rogaining was a success in this part of Canada, so Andy and Kitty formed the Rogaine Club based in Calgary and began to spread the word.

On a visit to Kamloops for an annual orienteering competition organized by the Sage Orienteering Club, Andy Newson told me about rogaining. I decided then and there to organize an event in the following year, even though I had never been to a rogaine! Drawing on Andy Newson's experiences, I ran the first rogaine in British Columbia in 1988. There was an excellent area of 125 square km at the edge of the grasslands very close to Kamloops and 30 teams came to this inaugural event. The weather was perfect and all appeared to enjoy themselves. Several competitors in this first British Columbia rogaine went on to organize their own events in the following year, including Ron Andrews running the first coastal rogaine in British Columbia a month later.

There was an early decision to closely model rogaines on the Australian design, to emphasize the social ambience of the hash house environment and to always provide a very high standard of food. The events took considerable work to organize which posed a problem for the small rogaining community in a town of 80,000 people such as Kamloops. It was soon decided to organize a major orienteering meet and a 24-hour rogaine in alternative years, with interspersed shorter rogaines.

The first international rogaine in 1990, The Most Awesome Rogaine, remains the best attended Canadian event to date, owing to careful planning between Andy Newson and the International Rogaining Federation who established a critical alliance with the Asia Pacific Orienteering Festival that began in Kamloops. A total of 330 competitors from 18 countries attended and this provided a catalyst for rogaining groups in Europe in later years.

In 1994, the Sage club of Kamloops hosted the first North American Rogaining Championships at Lac Du Bois. By 1997, the second 24 hour rogaine in eastern Canada was held in Nova Scotia. All this rogaining activity culminated in the 3rd World Rogaining Championships held at Douglas Lake Ranch, Kamloops in 1998. This was the Sage club's eleventh rogaine and the 25th rogaine in Canada. On an outstanding map and in record 40°C heat, 290 competitors in 137 teams entered from 15 countries.

History of rogaining in the United States (by Bob Reddick)

Bob Reddick organized the first United States rogaine in 1989, established the Rogaining Committee of the United States Orienteering Federation and was its first chairman. Bob is a founding member of the International Rogaining Federation and has represented United States on the IRF since 1989.

After participating in rogaines in Calgary and Kamloops in the late 1980s, I sought help from Neil Phillips at the International Rogaining Federation regarding guidance for running the first rogaine in the United States of America. Books, pamphlets and much advice were provided over many months and for the first time, the vetting of the course was performed on another continent, by Graham Foley at his desk in Melbourne. Publicity through the International Rogaining Federation led to three Australians attending the first USA rogaine and the opportunity was taken to gain considerable media attention and hold public lectures on rogaining in Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma.

The first 24 hour rogaine was held over 100 km east of Seattle on the drier eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains in the Wenatchee National Forest. The Buck Meadows camping ground provided an ideal hash house site surrounded by open hills, pine forests and mountain streams. Being 1000 m to 1500m above sea level there was considerable snow on the higher northern-facing slopes and the larger streams posed a significant challenge to safe crossing.

The International Rogaining Federation gave high priority to the development of rogaining in USA because of the extensive suitable areas and the large population base. Close links were developed with the US Orienteering Federation who set up their own rogaining subcommittee. Through this, many other rogaines followed in North America. Shorter rogaines were held in the Adirondacks of eastern USA by Keg Good, Bill Jamieson and their colleagues, whereas the drier Arizona countryside was ideal for desert rogaines. Rogaines also were held in Colorado, California, New York, Virginia and Alaska.

In 1993, the eastern Cascades area was again used for a major rogaine, this time the first Western Hemisphere Rogaining Championships at Table Mountain which were to later become the North American Rogaining Championships.

The success of rogaining in USA is clear from the almost 150 rogaines in 19 different states over the first ten years. Several people have played a key role in this success including IRF delegates Eric Smith and Bob Reddick, leading rogainer and orienteer Peter Gagarin, Keg Good and Karl Moore.

8-9 May 2004 in United States in Arizona was held the 6th World Rogaining Championships. The United States also has been awarded by International Rogaining Federation the 12th World Rogaining Championships, which will be held 16-17 August 2014 in South Dakota.

History of rogaining in New Zealand (by Ken Dowling)

Ken Dowling organized the first 24 hour rogaine in New Zealand in 1994 and, with Michael Wood, has represented New Zealand interests on the International Rogaining Federation.

The first rogaines in New Zealand were organized by Michael Wood and Jim Maxwell of the Hutt Valley Orienteering Club in the Wellington region of the North Island. Initial events from 1991 were only 4 hours but these increased to a 12 hour rogaine in 1995; and in 1996, Hawkes Bay orienteering club organized a 12 hour rogaine.

Prior to the first rogaine in New Zealand, there was already a long tradition of extended cross country navigation events adopted from the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club 24 hour walk from 1967 onwards. These included the 24-hour walks (twalk) of the Canterbury and Southland districts and the UK style mountain marathon events since 1980. The first 6 hour rogaine in South Island was organized by Graham Frith in 1992.

In 1994, the Dunedin Orienteering Club organized New Zealand's first 24 hour rogaine near Wanaka in Otago. This rogaine incorporated 12 and 6 hour events and attracted 142 participants including some from Australia. The 2nd NZ Championships were held at Craigieburn in Canterbury.

There is considerable potential for rogaining in New Zealand especially given its outstanding scenery and suitable rogaining areas combined with a strong culture of outdoor activity such as hiking and the widespread interest in rogaining. This was recognized by the awarding of the 4th World Rogaining Championships in 2000 to the Peninsula and Plains Orienteering Club of Christchurch. Also New Zealand was been awarded by International Rogaining Federation the 9th World Rogaining Championships in 2010 in Cheviot.

History of rogaining in South Africa

Rogaining in South Africa was pioneered by Pieter Mulder and the ROC club of Johannesburg.
The first rogainewas in 2003 in the Suikerbosrand area 50 km southeast of Johannesburg, and several have followed annually.
South Africa is also regularly represented in World Rogaining Championships.

History of rogaining in Brazil

Rogaining is active in southern and central Brazil. Rogaining started in Brazil under the leadership of Jose Nilton Silva Vargas in January 2006 near Cacapava South in Rio Grande do Sul. The first 24 hours rogaine was in Mato Grosso do Sul in November 2008.

History of rogaining in Japan

A 6 hour rogaine was held at Sugadaira, Negano, west of Tokyo in 2002, and a 6 or 12 hours rogaine has been run each subsequent year.
In 2008, a series of ten rogaines was started with most being 3 - 6 hours rogaines.
The Japan Rogaining Association was established in June 2009, and there are now 400 rogainers in Japan.

History of rogaining in Hong Kong

The first 24 hours rogaine in Hong Kong was led by Patrick Ng after competing in the 7th World Rogaining Championships in 2006. It was held at Sai Kung in the New Territories to the northwest of Hong Kong island and attracted 663 participants. Rogaining has become a regular event with a 6 hours rogaine on Lantau Island attracting 700 participants in 2008. Rogaines in Hong Kong have been advertised through the metro rail system with great affects.

History of rogaining in Israel

The first rogaine in Israel was in 2005 under the leadership of Dan Chissik. This was an 8-hour rogaine in the Alonim forests attracting over 100 teams. Annual rogaines have followed in 2006 in President’s Forest, 2007 at Ramot Menashe and 2009 Ben-Shemen. Participation has been around 250-300 people, and the 2009 rogaine included a 12-hour event starting at midnight.

History of rogaining in Europe

See Rogaining in Europe chapter

International Rogaining Federation materials
Murray Foubister
Bob Reddick
Ken Dowling