Posted on 18/11/2017 by Chris Stevenson

What’s wrong with Rogaining? I reckon there is nothing wrong with rogaining. I love the sport and I have been happily competing for 23 years now and I am looking forward to giving the Super Veterans a run for their money when I qualify next year. So I am probably the wrong person to answer this question.

But we know statistically that about half of all rogainers only ever attend one event and few rogainers ever compete in more than four events.

Why do few rogainers ever attend more than 4 events?

I do not know.

What I do know is that while rogaining participation rates have been growing gradually, participation in other adventure sports have been growing exponentially. What I also know is that most rogainers prefer the shorter events.

This year’s NSW Champs was a fabulous event but only 81 people took the field for the 24 hour Championship event and numbers for the NSW Champs have historically been well less than half the number that attend the Paddy Pallin event each year.

I am on the NSW Rogaining Committee and contributed to the Strategic Plan, so I think this Strategic Plan embraces a series of strategies that we need to put into place to improve the participation rates in our sport, but I would love to hear from those with other ideas. I would also love to hear from those who think these are the right set of strategies to improve participation rates in our sport.

9 Responses to Strategic Plan – What’s Wrong with Rogaining

  1. Shanti says: 18/11/2017 at 4:48pm

I find that the main thing holding me back is finding a partner (the partner finding service is great for this and I usually have success, but a lot of people might not want to walk around the bush for a day with a complete stranger). The 3 hr ones are great because you can do them individually but it would be nice if some of the 6 hr Metrogaines had an individual option. The other one is access – it’s great to be able to move around the state and see new places but sometimes it can be difficult to get out there (especially when they don’t always have camping). Having more events as per the plan will definitely help – sometimes they fall on inconvenient dates when you have other things scheduled.

Good work on the Strategic plan Trevor and committee. All very sound ideas.

This is a bit left of field and probably revolutionary (though perhaps not new), but here goes anyway …

While at the World Champs in Latvia it struck me how orienteering and rogaining in Latvia are both under one (orienteering) organisation – and (so we were told) the combination is the biggest sport in Latvia.

Rogaining arose as a variation on orienteering, and indeed the details of how the Paddy Pallin orienteering contest – I competed in one of the first – morphed into the Paddy Pallin Rogaine seem to have been lost in the mists of many events.

I have no idea of the politics which caused rogaining to set up separately in Oz, or the current politics which might hinder a union, but might it be worth exploring? For what it’s worth, I mentioned the idea to a prominent member of the NSW orienteering community over a few wines last weekend, and he thought it was a good idea …

Advantages might include greater mutual participation, coordination of events, a greater pool of volunteers, more efficient employment of executive staff, and increased marketing power (for both “camps”). A risk might be loss of identity, but I’m sure there will always be enthusiasts to push the rogaining barrow.

Just a thought.


Heretical indeed, but certainly worthy of good consideration.

Worth adding your idea to the mix Andy and interesting that it seems to work in one country.
I can see the efficiencies that might develop from a merge, but, given the different state associations across the 2 sports here and differences in mapping standards, equipment and entry systems, it will require a heroic effort to push it along.
One of our longstanding rogaining administrators in Newcastle has confided that he likes doing work for rogaining more than for orienteering because the rogainers complain less. Apologies to the orienteering community and let it be known that I like both sports.

Thanks for all the work you guys do – it is much appreciated.
My thoughts from the graph are that something needs to happen to inspire people during their first few events. How about some sort of welcoming ceremony after your second event? First event you get dragged along to but if you come to a second event you are clearly bloody-minded enough to be a potential repeat offender. So I reckon a special mug, getting called out and clapped, and your photo in an email that goes around to everyone a week later with the results and the winners.
Then, anyone who has done two events or more gets entered into a division called something like “Best on the day” which is awarded for the top 3 teams that do better than predicted based on the average previous performance of the members – ie a handicap system ( but handicap is a bad word – maybe a rating system). This would almost always be won by non-elites – as the better you are the harder it is to do better than your previous performances. That way everyone entering has a chance of walking home with a prize based on performance, even if they have no hope of ever competing for the upper places, and you have a metric by which to measure your progress. Might help the beginners and middle of the road competitors to maintain interest.
Not that most of us do rogaining for the prizes – but it is kinda nice if you are a plodder like me to have a hope of getting a clap and a mug if you have a good day. And if you have a bad day then at least your average will go down and you have a better chance next time!
An event wrap up email with the winners and photos and maybe some navigational tips or route choice ideas would allow us all to gradually put names to faces and improve our technique. I know it’s all on the website, but you have to go looking for that rather than have it come to you directly.
They’re my thoughts – thanks again for providing such a great activity – don’t regard any of the above as a criticism – its great just the way it is, and I know every suggestion comes with more work and organising. Cheers adrian

Thanks for these good ideas. Certainly worth a discussion at our next meeting.

Echoing everyone else’s thoughts that the work done by few is fantastic and very appreciated!

I’d have to agree that the lay person is probably more likely to have a go at an event up to about 6hrs long, so perhaps more of these events, and leave the longer events for some of the championships.

To encourage more participation I think you need existing Rogainers to help bring new people in due to some of the skills and equipment required for these events. I think I’ve probably encouraged 10 new people into the sport who are repeat offenders by dragging them with me, providing some basics and a compass, and then asking them to do the navigation whilst I following along behind offering any advice required. Most of the people love it after they’ve done it the first time, and more confident to give it a go by themselves next time. If you do increase the number of events per year, perhaps target one or two events in the year as a “come and try it” day whereby newbies are teamed up with someone with a little more experience and try to provide them the confidence to have a go by themselves next time.

I like the concept of encouraging the Scouting group to be more involved – a good source of growth for the sport in the longer-term, and as the kids get older, hopefully drag some of their mates along. Perhaps create a dedicated Scout group for awards and encourage some inter-group rivalary? Scouting groups normally have all the required equipment covered (I borrow compasses from the Cardiff Scout group each year for newbies for the Lake Macquarie Rogaine), and they could use it as a weekend activity if they wanted (camping overnight). Might also provide a pool of more volunteers with parents. Perhaps offer free entry for little Jimmy if mum/dad volunteer to help for the day?

The reason I don’t do more events is usually the amount of travel required. I’m usually happy enough to travel up to about 2-3hrs, so based at Lake Macquarie that means just south of Sydney through to probably Taree in the north, and west to around Yengo. I have travelled to Canberra and Lithgow way for longer events, but I’m unlikely to drag newbies to these events.

One thing to keep in mind if trying to encourage more participation for shorter events is that several times I’ve been told parents can’t go because of little Jimmy’s sporting event on Saturday morning.

Cheers, Scott.

I started rogaining in 2010. We used to do several rogaines a year but then I got pregnant and had morning sickness for 40 weeks, so rogaining was out of the question. Now with a 9 month old, the events are a bit long, and we wouldn’t be able to go off track.

Also, we don’t have a car, so would either need to hire one or go to a rogaine that was accessible by public transport. So we would probably do a metrogaine or socialgaine if it was in Sydney and easy to get to.

In short, there’s nothing wrong with rogaining, our circumstances just changed. We look forward to getting back into it when our kid(s) are older.

A link between Rogaining and Orienteering is of benefit to both sports – after all the Sydney Summer Series is a rogaine format. The Minigaine was briefly an event in each sports calendar and in my opinion should be reinstated to encourage participation in both sports (retaining the option of individual or team participation). I don’t think one governing organisation is a realistic option but it is to both sports detriment not to market each other as many participate in both.

Attracting entries to weekend bush events distant from Sydney is a challenge for both sports. Both Chris and Trevor have provided good reasons to attend. I think it is important for course setters to provide route choice for lesser mortals to achieve a reasonable score if they spend (say) 12 to 18 hours on the course and the luxury of time around the fire at the Hash House. This need not affect the championship event – just cater for all entrants.

The ACT at their night/day event attract a large contingent of entries from a Sports Science/Outdoor Education mob. It lifts my spirits to see the young people enjoying the night event!

There has been a big improvement in the website recently. Results, photo’s etc should continue to be uploaded quickly as interest declines exponentially after an event.

I’m not an advocate for more prizes/ribbons. Another option is to have a draw (done quickly) after the presentation to category winners for a selection of items (cakes, drinks etc). This encourages staying for the presentations.

Keep up the planning!

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