Rogaining is an orienteering sport of long distance cross-country navigation, involving both route planning and navigation between checkpoints using a variety of map types. In a rogaine, teams of two to five people choose which checkpoints to visit within a time limit with the intent of maximising their score. Teamwork, endurance, competition and an appreciation for the natural environment are features of the sport. Championship rogaines are 24 hours long, but rogaines can be as short as two hours.
Rogaining can trace its roots back to 1947 when the first of many events with some of the features of rogaines was organised by the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club. The events from the 1940s eventually led to the birth of the sport of rogaining in April 1976, in Melbourne, Australia. The sport was named, rules were adopted and the world’s first rogaining association was formed (the Victorian Rogaining Association). Growth of the association and the sport occurred rapidly over the next decade.
The word rogaining is derived from the names of three of the founders, Rod Phillips, Gail Davis (née Phillips) and Neil Phillips (RoGaiNe, hence "rogaining", "rogainer" etc.) who were all members of the Surrey-Thomas Rover Crew which organised the world's first rogaine. The name was formally adopted by the Victorian Rogaining Association at its inaugural annual general meeting in August 1976 and accepted by Scouts Australia and University bushwalking groups to give the new sport an identity in its own right.
World Rogaining Championships were first held in 1992, and then every two years from 1996 to 2012. Since then they have been held annually, with the country chosen two years in advance by the International Rogaining Federation. As of 2017 this has changed back again to every two years.
Teams of two to five members visit as many checkpoints as possible in the time allowed. Shorter duration rogaines often allow solo competitors. Checkpoints are scored differently depending on level of difficulty in reaching them; therefore teams choose a strategy (for example, to visit many low score checkpoints). Teams travel entirely on foot, navigating by map and compass between checkpoints in terrain that varies from open farmland to hilly forest. A central base camp known as a "hash house" provides hot meals throughout the event and teams may return at any time to eat, rest or sleep. Teams travel at their own pace and participants can practise cross-country navigation at their own level of competition and comfort. Team members stay within earshot of each other.
The duration of a championship rogaine is 24 hours, but shorter variations such as 3-, 6-, 8-, 12- and 15-hour events are also held (sometimes concurrently with a 24-hour event). Depending on the terrain, experienced rogaining teams can cover more than one hundred kilometres (62 mi) over the 24-hour period. There have also been longer events (dubbed "Endurogaines") lasting 48 and 50 hours. In their native Australia, rogaines are usually held every month during weekends near full moons, with annual state championships and an annual national championship. They require dozens of volunteers to run, including course setters and caterers and are often attended by hundreds of participants. A competitive 24-hour rogaine requires a map area of around 250 km2 (97 sq mi), for relatively flat terrain; terrain with significant climbs may require far less or far more area, depending on the placement of checkpoints.
Other forms of rogaining are popular, particularly in Australia during the months when normal rogaines are not held because of the weather. Popular variations include: