What Happens at an Event?

The following assumes you have chosen a Local event as your first experience of orienteering. The procedure for larger events is slightly different.

Event Registration All of our events at present are pre-registration only; it's not possible due to COVID tracing regulations simply to turn up and run. Registrations are done via our booking system, although it may be possible to register up until the day of the event. The event page will state when registrations close.

When you go to an orienteering event you will see a central point, maybe a group of cars or a tent, at which you can get information about the courses available and book yourself in. This area is known as Registration, and it is the place where you formally enter the event. It is also a good place to look for someone to help you understand what to do and give general advice.

When you register you'll be asked for your name and age (orienteers are grouped within age bands). When asked what your club is just say you don't have one. You'll be recorded as 'IND', or 'independent'. Officially you are allowed to compete in three events before you need to join a club. This web site has information about joining FVO

Nearly all events use electronic timing, and you will be able to borrow a small electronic recording device (usually a Sport Ident SI-Card) which you attach to one finger, and use to record your arrival at each control. If the event is not using electronic timing, you will be given a control card to take with you, and you will need to use the pin-punch at each control to mark the appropriate box on the control card. There may be small printed sheets available, showing the control descriptions for your course, telling you what sort of feature each control will be on, for example a path junction, boulder, or ditch. These details are also printed on the map.

You might be given your map at Registration - if not, you will get it at the Start. If there’s anything you need to know, don’t hesitate to ask.

At the Start You will have to clear previous data from your SI-Card by punching the electronic box marked "Clear". Hold your SI-Card in the box for a few seconds until it beeps and a red light flashes. You will also be asked to punch a box marked "Check". At local events, where the start is relatively informal, you will probably need to punch the “Start” box at the start line. For events that don’t use electronic timing, the start official will record your start time.

When you are told you can go, pick up your map, if you don’t have it already. The course is printed on the map - make sure you take the right map for your course. The Start Kite is shown on the map by a triangle. You need to match this with what you see at the Start Kite on the ground, turning the map so that it matches the landmarks. Then you can work out which way to go.

Going around your course From the Start Triangle, make your way to control 1 marked on your map, turning your map each time you change direction, and continuing to match it with the features you pass. Every control on the course has a code number on it, and this number will be listed on the control descriptions. Check that the code number on the control is the one you’re expecting, so that you know you’ve found the correct control.

Move on to control 2, and so on, until you’ve visited each control on your course. You must punch the controls in the order shown on the map. If you miss a control out, or punch the wrong control by mistake, it’s still OK so long as you go to the correct control and then carry on from there. The electronic punching records which controls you have visited, and although any extra punches are disregarded, you will be disqualified if you do not visit all the controls on your course in the right order.

Remember that if you are an experienced runner, but new to orienteering, you may be able to run much faster than you can keep in touch with the map! If you get lost or make a mistake, you could go back to the last control you visited and take it again from there, or you could look around to find a very obvious feature on the ground and then find that feature on the map, to work out where you are. You should then be able to continue on your way.

The Finish You haven’t actually finished your course until you punch the Finish, shown on the map by a double circle. This means you must keep going after you’ve punched the last control, until you reach the Finish and punch it. You can then relax!

Download After you’ve punched the Finish, head for "Download". Here you will be asked to put your SI-Card into the Download box. This produces a printout of your overall time and includes your split times so you can see how long it took you to go between controls. Should you decide not to complete your course for any reason, you MUST still go to Download, so the event organisers know you are safe. And please don’t forget to return your SI-Card, if you borrowed one.

The full results will be uploaded on to the Club’s website, often later the same day. Look at a previous event, like the one at Bantaskine to see what these look like.