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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 eleven 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 in memory of close friend and passionate navigationist, Jason Ryan. Ryan is considered to be the 'first' to have embarked on an unmonitored journey through the surrounding Canberra bushland, after setting off in the early hours of the morning on Friday the 17th of August, 1962. After running from what is now known as 'civic' in Canberra, Ryan eventually returned two days later, on the Sunday. The exact reason for the trip has been placed under immense scrutiny, with some reporting that Ryan could hear noises when he was sitting in silence, and thought a run such as this could straighten them out. Others believe it was simply a challenge Gore had set Ryan, for which he completed. Furthermore, Bill Packard and John Foster also helped to start the event, in developing the event from the idea and into its infancy.[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.[2] 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 1965. The participation was an attempt to develop closer ties between the ANU and RMC following animosity between the two institutions. ADFA participated in 2014 as trial year and have been invited back every year. Sadly they were not told about the continued invitation until 2021 and were meant to compete again. But sadly due to politics around ANU and the ADF, they decided to pull out so as to not further the animosity between the universities.

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.

In 2020 and 2021, Inward Bound was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In 2022 Inward Bound resumed. It also saw the introduction of a strengthened gender equity rule, where no more than 50% of a college's runners are allowed to identify with the same gender.[3]

Currently the following residences participate in Inward Bound:

While not always, recent years have seen Burton & Garran Hall, Bruce Hall, and Griffin Hall emerge as the strongest halls, with Burton and Garran Hall most known for their strong navigational abilities, and Griffin Hall for their strong runners, kindness and humour. As founders of the event, Bruce Hall has a long proud history while Ursula Hall, despite their size disadvantage, consistently perform well - save for in 2019.


Year End Point Description End Point Coordinates Overall Winner Div 1 1st Place Hall Div 1 1st Place Runners Doherty-Banks Award Recipients
2023 Humes Crossing Campground 35°28'21.5"S 148°16'36.7"E B&G B&G J Lowry, O Chenhall, S Junge, X Madden John XXXIII Div 5
2022 Maloneys Beach 35°42′38″S 150°15′01″E / 35.710452°S 150.250267°E / -35.710452; 150.250267 B&G Griffin C Bradley, G Fu, J Kato & T Wiseham Bruce Hall Div 1 - C Woodburn, J Gome, J Cementon & O Blyth
2021 Event not held - - - - -
2020 Event not held - - - - -
2019 Woolcara 35°32′17″S 149°20′06″E / 35.538040°S 149.335035°E / -35.538040; 149.335035 B&G B&G A Newman, R Mckenzie, J Larkin, T Barnett Burgmann College Div 3 - W Ertler, J Quail, B Durkin, E Randall
2018 Former Orroral Valley Tracking Station 35°37′45″S 148°57′22″E / 35.629208°S 148.956215°E / -35.629208; 148.956215 B&G Burgmann College J Bursill, T Fitzgerald, C Demeo, A McKenzie
2017 Denison Campground 35°56′07″S 148°35′45″E / 35.935333°S 148.595734°E / -35.935333; 148.595734 B&G Griffin T Bartlett, C Lane, S Wu & T Wiseham
2016 Dalmeny 36°09′44″S 150°07′37″E / 36.162294°S 150.126838°E / -36.162294; 150.126838 B&G B&G D Baldwin, A Patterson-Robert, S Lee & D' Taylor
2015 Kindervale 35°38′33″S 149°32′39″E / 35.6425°S 149.5441667°E / -35.6425; 149.5441667 Burgmann College B&G D Baldwin, M Teh, J Brand & A Grant
2014 Cotter Dam Reserve 35°19′22″S 148°56′30″E / 35.322711°S 148.941649°E / -35.322711; 148.941649 John XXIII B&G B Vallette, M Teh, D Longo & D Baldwin
2013 Corin Forest 35°31′06″S 148°55′02″E / 35.518246°S 148.917151°E / -35.518246; 148.917151 B&G B&G D Baldwin, C Thorburn, I McKean & J Lee.
2012 Majors Creek Cricket Ground 35°34′07″S 149°44′34″E / 35.568615°S 149.742674°E / -35.568615; 149.742674 no winner declared no winner declared
2011 Caloola Farm 35°40′17″S 149°04′24″E / 35.671372°S 149.073463°E / -35.671372; 149.073463 B&G John XXIII B Ness, C Hamill, J Greenacre & K Harris
2010 Jerangle Cricket Ground 35°52′11″S 149°21′38″E / 35.869772°S 149.360481°E / -35.869772; 149.360481 John XXIII Ursula Hall H Leslie, E Collet, G Stanfield & A Breian
2009 Honeysuckle Campground 35°35′00″S 148°58′39″E / 35.583262°S 148.977430°E / -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°28′51″S 148°56′18″E / 35.480805°S 148.938290°E / -35.480805; 148.938290 B&G -
2006 Majors Creek Cricket Ground 35°34′07″S 149°44′34″E / 35.568615°S 149.742674°E / -35.568615; 149.742674 - -
2005 Swinging Bridge Reserve, south of Wee Jasper 35°09′51″S 148°41′14″E / 35.164199°S 148.687103°E / -35.164199; 148.687103 - -
2004 East of Taylors Creek Rd between Lake George and Tarago 35°03′26″S 149°31′42″E / 35.057240°S 149.528466°E / -35.057240; 149.528466 Bruce Hall Bruce Hall Sam Osborn, Jason Heward, Jarrah Bassell
2003 Communications Tower off Calabash Rd in Tinderry 35°45′13″S 149°17′13″E / 35.753594°S 149.286986°E / -35.753594; 149.286986 - -
2002 Blundells Flat Picnic Area in Uriarra Pine Forest off Brindabella Rd 35°19′13″S 148°49′46″E / 35.320338°S 148.829461°E / -35.320338; 148.829461 - -
2001 Orroral Valley Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park 35°37′38″S 148°57′19″E / 35.627337°S 148.955211°E / -35.627337; 148.955211 - -
2000 Caloola Farm, end of Top Naas Rd 35°40′17″S 149°04′24″E / 35.671372°S 149.073463°E / -35.671372; 149.073463 Fenner Hall -
1999 Donoghue Hopkins Hut, Lowden Rd, Lowden Forest Park 35°30′43″S 149°35′21″E / 35.511811°S 149.589134°E / -35.511811; 149.589134 - -
1998 Woods Reserve in Gibraltar Pine Forest off Corin Rd 35°28′51″S 148°56′17″E / 35.480859°S 148.938087°E / -35.480859; 148.938087 - -
1997 Honeysuckle Campground 35°35′00″S 148°58′39″E / 35.583262°S 148.977430°E / -35.583262; 148.977430 - -
1993 Fenner Hall (tied with Ursula college (ponts)and won on countback (time)
1987 Bulls Head
1986 Bill Packard's property near Anembo on Jerangle Rd Burgmann College Burgmann College Michael Walters, Rodney Higgins, Dean Keneally, Grant Brady
1985 Corin Forest
1981 Homestead on Upper Shoalhaven River 35°47′52″S 149°38′19″E / 35.797802°S 149.638714°E / -35.797802; 149.638714 Burgmann College John Downing, Ross Kerr, Leigh McJames, Dave Rawson
1977 - Burgmann College Michael Bligh, Andrew Mulholland, Adrian Goodwin
1963 Bruce Hall Bruce Hall Bruce Hall
1962 Bruce Hall Bruce Hall Bruce Hall

[4][unreliable source?]



  1. ^ Inward Bound Website, "Coaches" http://anuinwardbound.com/coaches
  2. ^ a b David Barker. Inward Bound, The place to be: Burgmann College 1971-2001. Goanna Print, 2001, p 111.
  3. ^ "How university students are changing the face of a 60-year-old sport". ABC News. 13 August 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  4. ^ "2008-2015". 3 March 2015.
  5. ^ Results have been checked through numerous[which?] 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 (http://anuinwardbound.com/) as there is a database being compiled so that it can be better referenced on this page.

External links[edit]