Inward Bound

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Inward Bound (IB) is an endurance and orienteering running competition held between the residential halls and colleges of the Australian National University with participation from the Australian Defence Force Academy. It is a unique event combining aspects of both orienteering and rogaining while challenging personal endurance. IB is the most prestigious sporting event in the interhall sporting calendar. Held annually, the competition involves over 250 runners from eight of the ANU’s residences.

The competition is split into seven divisions which are dropped off, blindfolded, at an unknown location in the bush. The teams of four people then locate their position and race to the endpoint, picking the quickest route through the countryside. Distances from the endpoint vary from up to 100 km for the top divisions to 30 km for the lower divisions.

The event aims to bring these residences closer together, building on the university community at the ANU and creating a sense of camaraderie between residences and those who take part.

Event Outline and Rules[edit]

Each participating residence enters seven teams (one into each divisions) into the event. Division 1 is to be dropped off up to 70 km (as the crow flies) from the end point. The distances reduce with each division down to division 7 which is dropped of as little as 10–15 km (as the crow flies) from the endpoint. In actual distance run, Division 1 can cover over 100 km and division 7 over 30. The drop-off zones and endpoint are in remote and often secluded environments including fire trails, national parks and state forests.

Before departing for the drop off point, the teams are scrutineered to ensure that they have a set of compulsory equipment. The compulsory equipment includes:

  • water
  • food
  • maps and compasses
  • survival equipment

The teams are then blindfolded before boarding buses and departing for the drop off point. The route to drop-off point is deliberately obfuscated, with buses spending upwards of one hour driving around Canberra in order to cause disorientation. This prevents teams from knowing the drop off location right from the start.

The buses leave (beginning with division 1 in the early evening) at 1 hour intervals starting of the eve of the event. Typically division 7 will leave early in the morning of the day of the event.

When the runners are dropped off they remove their blindfolds and each team proceeds to identify their location. Typically two runners from each team will run in opposite directions to find some indication of their location. When they return the team confirms its location and plot a course to the end point. The teams then race to the endpoint.

The rules are structured to ensure that teams rely not only on their fitness, but also on their navigational ability to reach the endpoint. Thus maps and compasses are the only acceptable navigational aids. Tools such as GPS and altimeters are forbidden. Outside assistance in the form of transportation by vehicle or asking other people for the team's location are forbidden. Checking the addresses on envelopes in mailboxes is also forbidden, as a breach of privacy.

Generally, if a team is caught breaking any of the rules, or if they lose compulsory equipment they will be disqualified. Loss of equipment can also result in time penalties.

Each team receives a number of points for finishing the event. The number of points for each finishing position increases for each division. The residence with the most points at the end of the competition wins the event.

Safety Standards[edit]

As of 2009, Inward Bound introduced new compulsory safety standards for all teams during the race. Each team was required to carry an EPIRB Distress radiobeacon, a satellite phone and a 3G mobile telephone (in a sealed envelope). Organisers now use a comprehensive radio network across the region, 4WD recovery vehicles and first aiders to ensure competitor safety. Since 2012 the race has been viewable through the internet live GPS tracking system.[1]


Inward Bound was first held in 1962. Mike Gore, the founder of Questacon, is credited with coming up with the idea. Bill Packard and John Foster also helped to start the event.[2]

At the time, the Australian National University had only recently been formed and had only 200 students. The first event consisted of a race from South of Canberra to Bruce Hall.[3] At the time Bruce Hall was the only residence on campus and the student population numbered approximately 200. The initial race was won by a team which hitch-hiked back to Bruce Hall.

Teams cannot use outside assistance to reach the endpoint. While the format of the race has changed over time due to safety and insurance requirements, the core challenge remains the same.

RMC Duntroon participated in one Inward Bound event in the 1965. The participation followed animosity between the ANU and RMC and was an attempt to create closer ties between the two institutions. ADFA participated in 2014 as trial year and hope to participate again in 2016.

In 2008, Inward Bound was cancelled because the Organisers were unable to get Stakeholders to 'sign off' before the event was scheduled. In 2009, a comprehensive risk management plan was created for the event. This plan, along with a new dialogue of consultation with ANU administration, state and federal authorities, local councils and landholders meant the event returned in 2009 and has since successfully continued.

Division 7 (Independent), the eighth division, was discontinued from 2013 due to the increased number of teams from the inclusion of more halls and colleges, making the division a financial strain on the event.

Currently the following residences participate in Inward Bound:


Year End Point End Point Location Overall Winner Div 1 1st Div 1 1st Place Runners
2017 Denison Campground -35.935333, 148.595734 B&G Griffin T Bartlett, C Lane, S Wu & T Wiseham
2016 Dalmeny -36.162294, 150.126838 B&G B&G D Baldwin, A Patterson-Robert, S Lee & D' Taylor
2015 Kindervale -35.6425, 149.5441667 Burgmann College B&G D Baldwin, M Teh, J Brand & A Grant
2014 Cotter Dam Reserve -35.322711, 148.941649 John XXIII B&G B Vallette, M Teh, D Longo & D Baldwin
2013 Corin Forest -35.518246, 148.917151 B&G B&G D Baldwin, C Thorburn, I McKean & J Lee.
2012 Majors Creek Cricket Ground -35.568615, 149.742674 no winner declared no winner declared
2011 Caloola Farm -35.671372, 149.073463 B&G John XXIII B Ness, C Hamill, J Greenacre & K Harris
2010 Jerangle Cricket Ground -35.869772, 149.360481 John XXIII Ursula Hall H Leslie, E Collet, G Stanfield & A Breian
2009 Honeysuckle Campground -35.583262, 148.977430 Burgmann College Burgmann College Matthew "The Windmill" Parton, Murray "AJ" Robertson, Alex "Lungs" Matthews, Thomas "Top Secret" Close
2008 Event not held - N/A N/A
2007 Woods Reserve -35.480805, 148.938290 - -
2006 Majors Creek Cricket Ground -35.568615, 149.742674 - -
2005 - - -
2004 - Bruce Hall Bruce Hall Sam Osborn, Jason Heward, J. Bassell
2003 Tinderry area - - -
2002 - - -
2001 Orroral Valley -35.627337, 148.955211 - -
2000 Caloola Farm -35.671372, 149.073463 - -
1999 Blue Range Recreation Reserve -35.289802, 148.875769 - -
1998 Gibraltar Falls - - -
1997 Honeysuckle Campground -35.583262, 148.977430 - -
1987 Bulls Head
1986 Bill Packard's property near Anembo on Jerangle Rd Burgmann College Burgmann College Michael Warlters, Rodney Higgins, Dean Keneally, Grant Brady
1985 Corin Forest
1977 - Burgmann College Michael Bligh, Andrew Mulholland, Adrian Goodwin
1963 Bruce Hall Bruce Hall Bruce Hall
1962 Bruce Hall Bruce Hall Bruce Hall



See also[edit]

IB Guide - accessible on the ANU Network

Inward Bound Official Website


  1. ^ Inward Bound Website, "Coaches"
  2. ^ David Barker. Inward Bound, The place to be: Burgmann College 1971-2001. Goanna Print, 2001, p 111.
  3. ^ David Barker. Inward Bound, The place to be: Burgmann College 1971-2001. Goanna Print, 2001, p 111.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Results have been checked through numerous participating college year books which are not available online. Bruce Hall Library has a number of Ouroboros Year Books available with references to Inward Bound available. For any previous runners who are able to contribute results and/or courses, please contact the IB Committee through the IB Website ( as there is a database being compiled so that it can be better referenced on this page.