What is orienteering?
Orienteering is an adventure sport that tests navigational skill and fitness
in order to complete a course in the fastest possible time.
But Orienteering is also a recreation suitable for all members of the family
from age 2 to 92. It gives healthy exercise at whatever pace is comfortable to you.
Maps are specially drawn to a large scale. You navigate from a starting point to the finish visiting
ten to twenty control points along the way. There is no route marked on the ground. Each control point
is positioned on a particular feature where a red and white control flag is placed showing a unique control code.
An electronic chip is carried on your finger. To prove that you have been to each control flag
the small end of this 'dibber' is inserted into an electronic box at each control, the red LED
flashes and a short bleep sounds to confirm you've punched correctly.
A control site showing a kite on a stake. The Control Box is on top of the stake, and is activated by using the dibber worn on your finger.
Finishing position on the course is determined by the time taken to register at every correct
control point in the correct order with the quickest time determining the winner. Courses
are of varying difficulty with easier courses being all on paths with the most difficult
encountering complex terrain with only limited path running. Winning a course can require
a great deal of fitness and ability to navigate precisely at speed although orienteering
can also be a leisure activity to be enjoyed by all.
Orienteering is an easy, painless way of staying fit or getting into shape. Orienteering
is a great sport to take up with friends and family, allowing you to share your adventures
afterwards. At the elite level, orienteering is a highly competitive sport involving intense
concentration, skill and fitness. There are many international competitions, and world
and continent championships.
Orienteering is most usually done on foot ('Foot-O'). There are also regular competitions
using mountain bikes ('MTB-O') and, in appropriate climates, on skis ('Ski-O'). In the
technically-based challenge of Trail-O, competitors are confined to paths and tracks, and
'visit' correct controls by identifying them by sight. This challenge especially suits
those unable to cross rough terrain, and wheelchair users. Time taken to travel along the
course is not relevant - accuracy in identification is crucial instead. For the really
keen Foot-O can also be done at night!
Where do events take place?
Orienteering events take place on an immense variety of terrain. Generally orienteering events are held in forests,
woods, moors and parkland. Events such as 'urban' and 'sprint' events are held in the city streets and university campuses.
In Nottinghamshire we have maps of all but moors for orienteering events.
Who can participate?
Orienteering is a sport for everyone male, female, young or old. The majority of events have
courses to cater for everybody, whatever their ability. At our larger events, we have special
string courses for even the very young (2½+ year olds). Whilst it is usual to take part
by oneself, it is quite normal for beginners to tackle White, Yellow or Orange as groups.
Where can I find an event near me?
Nottinghamshire Orienteering Club has a fixtures list of all our events which include details
of each individual event. The current fixtures list can be found here
Look for the learner symbol
indicating that the event is
suitable for beginners. Alternatively a full list of events around the UK can be found on the
British Orienteering website
or on other club websites.
What do I need for my first event?
You should come prepared as you would for a walk in the woods. Your first event will be mostly on paths
but it may be muddy so old trainers are advised, you may wear hiking boots although these can
significantly slow you down if you want to run. Full leg and body cover is compulsory at the
majority of events so no shorts, but T-shirts are fine. It is a good idea to bring along a
pen for filling out registration slips. It is sometimes compulsory to carry a whistle when on
your course and it is always advisable to have one anyway. Don't forget your money, the cost
varies between events but is generally up to £7 for adults and £3 for Under 21's
and students. There is sometimes a car parking fee to be paid as you drive into the car park.
These details can be found in the event details on the club website prior to the event.
What types of events are available?
There are four levels of domestic races:
Level D events encompass a wide range of formats and types of event that clubs wish to stage to provide opportunities for participants
to orienteer at a venue near to them. These events may be of any format and type in any terrain: clubs decide what suits the needs
of the prospective participants and usually provide opportunities for newcomers of all ages as well as orienteers in the local region.
The format may be quite informal.
Level C events provide opportunities for participants seeking competition at a wider variety of venues and against a varied group of competitors but without wishing to travel great distances. There will be normally be beginner courses available
Level B events provide opportunities for more experienced competitors who seek a wider variety of terrain, challenging courses and competition. Competitors are prepared to travel longer distances to attend these events.
Level A events are the most prestigious events intended to provide opportunities for competitors to take part in the ultimate orienteering challenges in the UK.
Find events on the
. You will also see Relays and Score events, and a sprinkling of other occasional formats.