Inward Bound, the Australian National University’s most unique sporting event, involves students from halls and colleges running the length of an ultra-marathon through the wilderness with the aim of reaching ‘end point’ before other teams. Now in its 53rd year, IB has existed for almost as long as ANU itself and the intensity of the event is reinforced by its strict procedures; blindfolded runners are put onto a bus in their divisions and are driven to disorientate them before they are sent to their ‘drop points’.

Burgmann College managed to steal the title of this year’s Inward Bound from John’s College by two points. In second place was John XXIII College, followed by UniLodge, Ursula Hall, Bruce Hall, Griffin Hall, Fenner Hall and Burton & Garran Hall.

Burgmann Sports Representative, India Bullock, said “Everything was so up in the air, we had no idea how things were going to turn out before the tribunal.” She also said that at a college level, credit must go to “the coaches for all the time and effort they put in.”

  • Burgmann Division 1 Competitor and first-year student, Daniel Shlagar, said IB was “Hands down the single most painful experience of my life … I thought nothing would ever justify the pain until I came into End Point, through the tunnel and the fire for next year’s IB was lit.”
  • The most unexpected reaction to the challenge was that “you can always overcome the mental barrier, but not the physical,” said Shlagar.

The event was not without controversy. The Inward Bound Tribunal heard 16 separate cases, with all colleges being reported at least once. This resulted in 10 teams receiving time or point penalties, and one team being disqualified, because of issues such as competitors arriving at end point without their ANU student identification and crossing through out-of-bounds areas along their route. Spectators also cost some colleges points earned on the run, with one spectator accused of bullying other students at end point.

Burton & Garran Hall was also penalised for residents consuming alcohol at the IB send off. The IB Tribunal said, “It is a very serious offence that has been committed, and not only clearly contravenes the rules of Inward Bound, but goes against the consent Inward Bound officials have to obtain from the ANU for the event to go ahead.”

Teams in Division 2 and 3 were disadvantaged after the owner of a property reneged on his offer to allow competitors to cross his land during the event, even though two teams had already travelled through the area. This forced remaining teams to find alternative routes or face disqualification.

The Inward Bound Committee, overseen by IB Race Director Geoffrey Sykes, began planning for the event in July last year. Costing over $45,000 to run and covered by 20 million dollars of insurance, this year’s IB saw over 240 competitors, 200 volunteers and hundreds of spectators travel 70km to Kindervale.

After initial delays in organisation, culminating in a defeated motion of ‘no confidence’ in Sykes, the event ran to plan despite its inherent dangers.

“Whenever you run through the wilderness there will be a risk of injury,” said Sykes, “[The competitors] train from nothing to everything in six weeks and this can be conducive to an injury.”

The official results for each division were announced on Monday and are:

Division 7: Burgmann College

Division 6: Johns College

Division 5: Burgmann College

Division 4: Burgmann College

Division 3: UniLodge

Division 2: UniLodge

Division 1: Burton & Garran Hall