Orienteering is a challenging outdoor adventure sport that exercises both the mind and the body. The aim is to navigate in sequence between control points marked on a unique orienteering map and decide the best route to complete the course in the quickest time. It does not matter how young, old or fit you are, as you can run, walk or jog the course and progress at your own pace.
Orienteering can take place anywhere from remote forest and countryside to urban parks and school playgrounds. The most challenging orienteering takes place in areas, which has demanding terrain and few paths.
To start orienteering all you need is a sense of adventure and a pair of trainers. It’s a great sport for runners, joggers and walkers who want to improve their navigation skills or for anyone who loves the outdoors.
Orienteering – An adventure sport for all!
Official Newcomers Guide to Foot Orienteering – link to information on British Orienteering website.
Short video about orienteering
Types of Orienteering
Orienteering can take place in several forms:
- on foot
- on skis
- on mountain bikes
- on horseback
and there is another format, called Trail-O, that is designed to enable physically-disabled athletes to compete equally against the able-bodied.
In Britain, the most common form of orienteering is on foot. However, within this one discipline, there are several types of event:
Cross-country – the most common type – Here the aim is to find red and white markers (called controls) in a set order. Each entrant is allocated a separate start time. The entrant is timed at the start and again at the finish. The person who completes the course in the shortest time wins.
Relay – This is a version of ‘cross-country’ orienteering for teams of 3 or more. In this form, all teams start at the same time. When the first runner gets back, the second starts and so on. Each runner in the team has a different course, and the different teams do these courses in a different order, so not everyone is looking for the same controls at the same time. The first team to finish wins.
Score – Here the aim is to find as many controls as possible in a set time. Some controls may be worth more points because they are further away or harder to find. Points are deducted if you are late back. The person with the most points wins.
Sprint – This is a version of ‘cross-country’ orienteering over very short distances. Sometimes, everyone starts together, but does different loops of their course in a different order. It is fast and exciting for competitors and spectators alike.
Night – This is ‘cross-country’ orienteering at night. Competitors carry torches to help them to see, but otherwise it is exactly like ‘cross-country’ orienteering.