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Help for Beginners - What to Do at an Event

If you are new to Orienteering, this is a summary of what to do:

For colour coded courses you cannot pre-enter. You just travel to the event and enter on the day.

After arriving, get ready for a run or a walk in the woods and then go to Registration with a pen and the course fee. Registration will be at a tent or a car (sometimes inside a building). There will be help available there.


(open until 30 mins before last start time)
• Select your beginner's course
     White about 1.5 km ages up to 10
     Yellow 2.0 km ages 8 - 13
     Orange 2.5 km ages 11 and over
(there will be other courses for the more experienced)
• It is quite normal for beginners to do a course as a pair or a groups.
• Complete the registration slip (ask if anything is unclear)
• Pay your fee.
• Collect your description sheet
• Collect your hired dibber.
• Find the loo - there won't be any out on the courses !
• Follow signs (or tapes) to the Start. If you cannot see a sign, ask how far away the Start is (it may be a 10-15 minute walk).

The Start

(you won't be allowed to start if you arrive after the last Start time)
• White and Yellow courses will be given their maps immediately. You can study and may ask for help from the start officials.
• Clear your dibber at the box provided (this takes up to 20 seconds).
• The official will allocate start times on a first come, first served basis.
• When your start time is called, move into the first box. Your dibber will be checked. You move forward to the next box every minute.
• When you reach the final box, wait until the whistle sounds, or the clock makes the long beep; you can then start. Dib in the Start unit, and off you go.
• Orange course maps will be available in boxes or bags just beyond the start unit.

The Course

• The course is marked on the map, in Red or Purple, starting from a Triangle. Each control is a circle, and the Finish is a double circle.
• The actual position of the Start Triangle is shown by a Start Kite which you can see from the Start (or is on a short taped route from the start line) The Start official will tell you where it is.
• Walk (or run!) around your course, dibbing at each control on your course. Dibbing only takes half a second, but make sure you see a flash or hear the beep. It doesn't matter if you dib in a wrong box, provided that you dib all of your controls in the right sequence. Remember there will be more controls out there being used by other courses.
• Controls on the White course will be positioned just on the exit route you should take away from that control.

The Finish

• Dib in the Finish box, and then follow the signs or tapes to Download.
• There may be orange squash, or water near the finish, or near Download.


• The official will ask you to dib in another box. This will take 5-10 seconds. The computer will check your run and print a list of split-times for your run. If you hired the dibber, please return it.
• That's it ! You keep your map and your split-time printout. There will be a results display somewhere near Download, and the complete results will be on the web as soon as the organiser can manage.
If you give up half way round your course, or it is getting near the course closing time, it is an Absolute Rule that you must come back to Download.
If you haven't "finished" or "retired", the organiser will assume you are lying injured somewhere in the woods, and is duty bound to organise a search for you. Depending on the weather conditions, the Organiser may begin a search for overdue participants much earlier e.g. a seven year-old who hasn't completed a White in two hours on a snowy day. Please don't just get in your car and go home!

What next?

If you have enough time, you can have another go at a more difficult colour.

If parents want to follow or help their children, please do.
If children want to follow or help their parents, please do.
Orienteering is a family sport. It is a great family moment when son or daughter first overtakes their mum or dad.

Problems with Dibbers

If you cannot get the control unit to flash or beep, you may find an orange, red or blue pin punch attached to the control stake. Use this to mark your map instead, and explain at Download what happened. Likely as not everybody will have had the same problem at that control.


are not really necessary on White Yellow or Orange courses, but they can certainly help on Orange courses.


The event details will say whether dogs are allowed. In Nottinghamshire, there are a few venues where dogs are not welcome, but elsewhere there may be more restrictions. No event will allow dogs that are not under control, or if the dog chases runners.


The event details will say what type of toilets are provided.

If you don't understand anything, please ask. If there isn't a designated helper available, then anybody will help. Whilst out on a course, remember that others may be competing but they will still help if you are injured or seriously lost.