History of Rogaining

The history of rogaining - publised IRF web site 2002

The first rogaine was run in Australia in 1976 and followed related events that had been held over the previous thirty years. The Victorian Rogaining Association was formed in April, 1976, and remains the world's largest rogaining association. Rogaining rapidly became established throughout Australia. Annual championship rogaines were held in most states and many smaller events were organized.
In 1986, the first rogaine outside Australia was held in Canada and several hundred overseas events have since been held. Rogaining has now spread to many countries including the USA, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Sweden, Ireland and Russia.

The International Rogaining Federation was formed in 1989 and is recognised as the peak international body for the sport, having responsibility for Standards and Rules, the World Rogaining Championships and fostering the sport internationally.

The history of rogaining - more detail - publised IRF web site 2001
"The experience of a full moon at the break of dawn opens a Person's heart to their Universe in ways Science and Religion may not." Loc Phil.

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. The aims of the International Rogaining Federation are:
- promote and develop the sport of rogaining internationally,
- maintain the fundamental principles and culture of rogaining,
- maintain international rules and technical standards of rogaining,
- promote, award and monitor the World Rogaining Championships,
- provide a focus of communication for rogaine participants and organizers.

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.

The most important achievement of the IRF has been the worldwide acceptance of a common ethos and uniform standards for the sport. Other major achievements include establishing and maintaining communication between rogaining groups, the coordination of regular world rogaining championships and the publication of Costigan's Organizing a Rogaine. Close co-operation with state and national rogaining associations has been vital to these successes.