A Test Of Endurance

Its name hardly trips off the tongue – and it’s largely unknown outside the world of outdoor pursuits.

But rogaining in some form has been going for more than 60 years…and has a dedicated following all over the world.

Rogaining is the sport of long-distant, cross-country orienteering, an adventure sport which involves as much mental effort as physical output.

Route-planning is of the essence, and as an endurance sport, fitness is paramount.

True championship rogains are 24-hour events, with teams of usually between two and five travelling on foot through a designated area.

They must work out the best means of reaching their goal, clocking up points by visiting checkpoints within the time frame; strategy is crucial, as check-ins are scored depending on the level of difficulty in getting there. Teams looking to reach as many low-scoring checkpoints as possible must decide if they will rank higher than fellow competitors aiming to make fewer check-ins at higher-ranking, more difficult control points.

Teams must travel together, on foot, with no help from GPS navigation systems and only a map and compass to guide them.

Terrain can vary from open farmland to thick forest, up hill and down dale via designated roads, footpaths and barely-discernible tracks.

Rogaining can be traced back to 1947, although the name did not become officially recognised until nearly 30 years later.

Name is Derived From Those of its Founders

The first known event took place in Australia, organised by the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club – in 1976 it became an official sport with its own association whose name derived from those of its founders, Rod Phillips, Gail Davis nee Phillips, and Neil Phillips.

It is also – handily – an acronym for Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Endurance.

The next major Rogain event takes place at the end of the month when the 10th European Championships are held near Barcelona at La Llacuna in Catalonia, Spain, on January 26 and 27.

Various classes include those for the under 20s, veterans over 40 and ‘super veterans’ over 55, across a 100 square kilometre course which takes in Mediterranean pine forests, cultivated valleys, wild boar trails and hillsides – including some unmapped territory which rises up to 944 metres above sea level.

Several hundred competitors have signed up to take part – and thousands more will turn out to watch.

The rules are straightforward – no GPS or altimeters are allowed, and mandatory kit includes a compass, headlamp, whistle and survival blanket. Warm clothing is essential as night-time temperatures in Spain can drop quite alarmingly at this time of year; layers are recommended for during the day.

A ‘hash house’ provides hot meals for competitors throughout the event, and teams may return at any time to eat or sleep.

  • Other upcoming races include Ireland on June 15-16, the Ukraine on June 22-23, and Germany on July 13-14.

Nicki Williams writes for outdoor clothing and equipment specialists Gear-Zone, on-line stockists of famous names including Rab, The North Face and Berghaus

Picture source: The Wild Boar Rogaining