– by Brett Davis
Children have a special place in rogaining, especially in NSW – and they don’t even have to obey the rules like everyone else!
The “Rules and Regulations” page of the New South Wales Rogaining Association (NSWRA) website states that “Rogaines in NSW conform to the Competition Rules and Technical Regulations laid down by the Australian Rogaining Association” (ARA) – but the ARA rules don’t actually contain any references to the terms “families” or “children”!
There is no minimum age for a rogainer mentioned anywhere in the rules. Rule 2 states “A team that has a member under fourteen years of age shall also have a member eighteen years of age or over” and Technical Standard T17 states that for the Open age category of competition there is “no age restriction” – so babies, infants and children of any age are apparently okay.
Because there is nothing in the ARA rules about children, the NSWRA makes things perfectly clear about its attitude to children on its “Who Can Participate?” page where it states that “Children are welcome on Rogaines” – and they don’t even have to pay an entry fee as the “Entry Fee Scales” page states that “children under 14 years of age are given free entry“!
In fact, on the “Competition Categories” page under “Family Category”, it says that if you want to compete in the Family category then one team member must be a child!
Rogaining associations have long histories of highlighting the participation of children in rogaines. The August 1988 edition of the NSWRA newsletter mentioned a mixed team made up of David, Debbie and Amy Sledge and asked whether “Amy at 5 years might be our youngest rogainer?“
Issue 100 of the NSWRA newsletter in November 2003 had an article called “My Favourite memories of Rogaining” by Marnie Holmes, which included “other bright memories of rogaining … carrying a 3 month old baby around Mullo’s Walks Socialgaine (1999); breastfeeding a 6 month old baby around the Metrogaine earlier this year …”
In 2004 Mike Hotchkis wrote the following in his President’s Report in newsletter 105 – “Welcome to our youngest association member, Alexander Edward Batten. And congratulations to the proud parents, Bronwyn and Paul. Alexander was born on 13th September. Paul and Bronwyn organised this year’s Metrogaine. Bronwyn served on the committee until earlier this year, and Paul is currently the NSWRA archivist.“
On the NSWRA website in the organiser’s report for the November 2012 Blisters for Vistas Socialgaine, Martin Dearnley states “Prizes were awarded for category winners and others with special achievements such as the largest blister, or the youngest walking child to score more than 100 points.” The use of the term “walking” is significant – read on!
The South Australian Rogaining Association (SARA) presented “Lunartic Awards for 2015”, one of which was called the “You’re Never Too Young to Rogaine” award which went to Carrie Warren-Smith who participated in the 2014 “Trains, Tees and Tides” 3hr Minigaine. It was noted that Carrie “was only 13 days old when she competed in last year’s Minigaine with her parents, thus becoming SARA’s youngest ever rogainer.“
In the description published prior to the 2017 Huntergaine 6 hour event in NSW, it stated “If you have little kids, perhaps bring both a pram and a baby carrier and decide on the day which to use.”
So what rules don’t apply to children?
Rule 9 of the Rules of Rogaining and Technical Regulations (2022) apparently doesn’t apply to children, even though the Preamble to the Rules states that Rule 9 (and others) is “fundamental to the continued survival of the sport” and “participants who contravene these rules may be banned from future rogaines.“
And what does Rule 9 say? Well, Rule 9 says “Competitors shall travel only on foot“. This rule should obviously eliminate the use of prams and strollers, and it also precludes children being held or carried in a backpack, sling or baby carrier. The rule effectively bans babies and toddlers from all rogaines!
However, given all the quotes above, and all of the images displayed on this page, it is evident that Rule 9 is not being enforced for babies and toddlers. Rogaine organizers are either unaware of the rule, or special rules are created for some rogaines, or maybe it is just conveniently ignored!
Of course, the Preamble to the Rules of Rogaining (2022) states “State Associations may adjust the technical regulations for specific minor (ie non-championship) events, where they consider this appropriate, by decision of their association management committee. They may also adjust the technical regulations for a specific state championship event where there are compelling reasons to do so.“
Just as the Preamble could allow state associations to introduce solo rogaining in all rogaines if they want, it also gives them the right to allow children to be carried or pushed around a rogaining course in a stroller.
Do I have a problem with allowing kids in rogaines – even if they are carried or pushed in a stroller? Not at all – in fact I would like the status quo to be maintained, but maybe the ARA rules could be changed to allow babies and toddlers to compete legally in the future.
Some of you may know me as the crazy guy who wants solo rogaining allowed in all NSWRA events – see www.solorogaining.org. The NSWRA has banned solo rogaining in long events because rogaining is a “social” sport, although it doesn’t seem to have any trouble ignoring the “social” side of things when solo rogaining is allowed in shorter events. I have always believed that the NSWRA is more concerned about my safety than my anti-social support of solo rogaining!
However, although I am not allowed to compete solo in a 24 hour event, the NSWRA apparently has absolutely no problem at all with allowing me to compete in a 24 hour event with a baby on my back (or front). This is obviously much safer, and much more social!
In 2023 there are two 24 hours event scheduled for NSW and the ACT – the ACT Championships on the 15th and 16th of April, and the combined NSW and Australian Championships on the weekend of September 30th and October 1st. At the moment I don’t have a partner organised for either of these events, and given my history (see https://nswrogaining.org/the-loneliness-of-the-long-distance-rogainer-the-search-for-the-perfect-partner/) it is unlikely that I will find anyone for those two events as usual …
So, will anyone have a baby that they would be able to lend me on those two weekends? Or perhaps we could work out some kind of rental? Preference will be given to very small, very light babies who sleep a lot and don’t eat much! And it would be a real bonus if they could navigate! 😊