The best way to learn about Orienteering is to come to the next event. Someone there will get you started.
Below is basic information about Orienteering. Other web sites have lots of information. Start with the Orienteering USA web site.
Take this challenge, on this map of a recent advanced course, how would you go from Control 2 to 3? How about from 6 to 7?
AUDIO Available! Brian Brinkerhoff, of backcountry-magazine.com, interviewed Suellen, May 2009, about orienteering. Listen to her interview on orienteering. Or, click here for a October 2006 5 minute interview.
The Salt Lake Tribune wrote about us! May 2006 article. Or, read the 2002 Salt Lake Tribune's article on orienteering.
What should I bring?
Dress as you would for a hike or run. For intermediate and advanced courses you might want long sleeves and rugged jeans for "bushwacking" but serious Orienteers actually wear light nylon running suits with gaiters over their shins. The most sensible item would be comfortable shoes.
A water canteen or water bottle, especially for hot days.
Usually there's no fee to compete. But donations are welcome.
Do I need a compass? How do I use it?
A compass is not necessary for beginner courses. If you have one, bring it and we will show you how to use it. For help, you can read an article written by Alexei Azarov for the Orienteering North America Nov/Dec 2010 magazine.
What does "Time 10 to 12" mean?
Well, we stagger the starts so that people on the same course aren't all going at once. So, start time from 10 to 12 means you can show up anytime between those hours to begin your race. And, if several beginner teams all come at 10, team 1 starts at 10, team 2 at 10:05, team 3 at 10:10, etc. To avoid the 10:00 rush, come and start your race a bit later! You can expect to finish about an hour later, and we usually start removing the race controls about an hour and a half after the last time.
How do I start orienteering?
Decide which of the courses offered best fits your skill level. Sometimes our meets have simply a "beginner," "intermediate," or "advanced" level course offered.
Here are the definitions of the color-coding Orienteers use. Differences in courses are based on navigation/map skills and climb/distance difficulties.
White (novice) - short and easy
Yellow (advanced beginner) - rather easy, designed along strong linear features, a
good first course if you have some map reading experience
Orange (intermediate) - designed around distinct features but good navigational skills
Brown, red, green, blue (advanced) - difficult, sometimes very difficult. The only
differences in these courses is the length. Brown is short, blue is very long (up to
Fill out registration form and receive your map.
If the maps are not preprinted, go to the master map table to copy the course you plan to run onto your map. Neatness counts because the control flag will be set in the exact center of the control circles as drawn on the master map.
Go to the starting position. Do not begin the course before your beginning time is marked on your card because time matters for scoring.
From start (triangle on the map) go to the first control (circled on the map with a #1), then go to #2, #3, etc...in that order.
Generally it takes about an hour to complete a course. A beginning course may only take 30 minutes while an advanced course may take a couple of hours. The time limit is usually three hours. A "quit time" might also be specified and after that time the course is taken down.
Make sure to go the finish (double circle on the map) whether you finish the course or not. We need to know who is still in the woods! Please avoid leaving without checking in as it can cause an unnecessary search. Also, if you don't come back in we can't score your card.
Instead of a fixed course, participants visit as many controls as possible within a fixed time, e.g., 30 minutes. More distant or difficult controls are often allotted a higher point value. Points are deducted for each amount of time the orienteer arrives after the allotted time is up, say 5 points for every minute. The person with the most points wins.