The 2019 World Rogaining Championship delivered an epic and picturesque event at La Molina ski resort in the Pyrenees mountains of Catalonia.

The organisers promised a 140km2 course of 86 controls requiring 103km with 9000 metres climb to complete. Postcard perfect weather in the preceding days did not last, with thunderstorms during the planning on the Saturday morning, another storm with hail in the afternoon, followed by gale force winds on the high open peaks all night. The event finished in glorious sunshine.

XV trophy winners David and Julie on the podium

Standout performance of the 56 Australians in the field of 866 (386 teams) was Julie Quinn and David Baldwin, 1st in Mixed Veterans and 2nd in Mixed Open with 349 points. The following are all the Australian placings:

  • David Baldwin, Julie Quinn - 1st Mixed Veterans and 2nd Mixed Open
  • Mike Hotchkiss, Jonathan Worswick - 1st Men Super Veterans
  • Robin Spriggs, Sharon Crawford (USA) - 1st Women Ultra Veterans
  • Karen Pedley, Christine Brown - 2nd Women Super Veterans
  • Derek Morris, Ted Van Geldermalsen - 2nd Men Ultra Veterans
  • Isaac Bell, Benjamin Rada Martin - 3rd Men Under 23
  • David Rowlands, Jon Sutcliffe (GBR) - 3rd Men Super Veterans

Maria Plyashechko, based in Melbourne, clearly won the Womens Open representing Russia. The event organisers have released an excellent video (2 mins) capturing the atmosphere from the WRC. Compare team routes in Play-Map.

by David Hogg

May 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the first official intervarsity competition in the sport that is now known as rogaining. The origins of this competition, and indeed of the sport of rogaining itself, can be traced back to a weekend in 1947 when the five members of the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club (MUMC) embarked on a competitive 24 hour walk through the hills east of Melbourne. Despite the low numbers, the competition proved popular and was repeated the following year, this time attracting about two dozen competitors in teams of two or more.

The 24 Hour Walk continued to grow in popularity and remained a highlight of the MUMC event program for over 40 years, also attracting participants from the equivalent clubs in Melbourne’s other universities, Monash and Latrobe. The idea was also exported to Adelaide, when an MUMC member moved there and became active with the Adelaide University Mountain Club.

In the early 1960s, MUMC was the only club belonging to the Melbourne University Sports Union that did not participate in an intervarsity competition. The Club therefore initiated a move to establish an intervarsity 24 Hour Walk, with the support of its counterparts at Monash and Adelaide Universities. Unofficial competitions were conducted from 1964, while the Club endeavoured to gain approval from the Australian Universities Sports Association (AUSA) for conducting the event on an official basis.

A major early stumbling block was that the AUSA did not see the 24 Hour Walk as a ‘real’ sport, as there was no national sporting organisation with formal rules for conducting such events. A breakthrough came in 1968 with the discovery of the official rules of the English Orienteering Association, which had been formed when orienteering became formally established in England in the early 1960s. While occasional orienteering events had been conducted in several parts of Australia prior to that time, these were informal events with no standard rules or established organisational structure. (The current orienteering movement began in August 1969, with the Orienteering Federation of Australia established in April 1970 and its first official rules adopted later that year).

The 2019 Intervarsity was held in conjunction with the ACT Championship in Bournda National Park and Nature Reserve near Merimbula NSW on 18-19 May.

Superb warm sunny weather on the weekend ensured that the scenic coastal terrain was at its best. The hash house was situated at a disused adventure park featuring a scenic lake and golf course.

It was a special occasion for the 50th anniversary of the Intervarsity. David Hogg, who organised the first official intervarsity in 1969, presented the trophies to the winners and placegetters.

All Intervarsity competitors with Intervarsity founder David Hogg

ACT again provided the bulk of the 13 Intervarsity teams, with 10 teams from Australian National University (ANU). Tony Newman and Mikey Dimuantes, were first in Mens Open, second place overall and winners of the 13th Nigel Aylott University Championship.

Intervarsity winners presented trophy by ARA President David Rowlands and Intervarsity founder David Hogg

First mixed Intervarsity team was Kelvin Peh and Holly Ashburner of ANU, whilst the women's IV winners were Alice Schacher, Zoe Oldfield and Rhea Papadopoulos from ANU. Results are posted on the: ARA website.

Most artifacts from the first official Intervarsity in 1969 have survived, due to the meticulous record keeping by MUMC Historian David Hogg and the Victorian Rogaining Association (VRA) archives setup and managed by Chris Solnordal.

The Intervarsity course was set on the Daylesford 1 inch to 1 mile scale (1:63,360) topographic map.

The course consisted of 25 controls, separate Start (S) and Finish (F), plus 3 Hash Houses. The map can be read in conjunction with the control descriptions and event information: page 1, page 2, page 3.

Details of the Intervarsity event invitation and planned program, the entry form, and directions to the event.

The Mountaineer (MUMC magazine), from July 1969 provides a brief insight of the weekend:
The first official Intervarsity 24 Hour Walk was held in the Trentham - Blackwood - Daylesford area on May 31st-June 1st. The adverse weather conditions which prevailed for most of the weekend undoubtedly dampened the enthusiasm of the competitors and increased the time spent at hash houses, particularly at the University's "Hillside" cottage at Blackwood. Two representatives of the Melbourne team, Ron Frederick and Bob McNaught, survived to the finish to win the men's section; the other members, Tony Kerr and Geoff Fagan having retired to the comfort of the hash houses.

The Melbourne women's team Rosalie Lahore, Joan Holroyd, Annabelle Roth and Judy Whitaker enjoyed breakfast with the Kyneton Shire President after sleeping part of the night in his haystack and finished second to the Monash girls.

Ron Frederick was it top form that year, winning Intervarsity, the MUMC mid-winter 24 hour, and the first "classic" orienteering event in August. He is still very active in rogaining today as VRA Vice President, competing in the Ultra Veteran's class, and organising rogaining and orienteering events.

The Organiser's Report provides a comprehensive summary of the event, providing the knowledge and key information (such as course setting and catering) for the organisers of the Intervarsity to follow in subsequent years. The organisers report: page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, page 5.

Subsequently, David Hogg outlined the significance of these developments for Australian orienteering (and rogaining) in the University magazine Farago.

The Australian University Championship for 2019 will be held in conjunction with the ACT State Championship. The date is 18-19 May 2019.
This is the 50th anniversary of the Intervarsity, which began with the first official competition on 31 May 1969 in Victoria.
The rules for the Intervarsity, originally called the 24 Hour Orienteering Contest were the basis for the sport of rogaining established in 1976.

The 2019 World Rogaining Championship (WRC), will be organised by the Iberogaine Association of Spain, on 27-28 July. The event is centred on two of Catalunya's top ski resorts: La Molina and Masella, with the competition area straddling the Spain/France border in the Pyrenees Mountains.
The combination of high altitude, steep slopes and 40% open terrain will be very different from any previous WRC. Currently 49 Australians have entered.
The event website for WRC2019 is: www.wrc2019.cat/en.