How to begin

Most people start orienteering by attending a club’s local event and having a go at an easy course.  You are welcome to do this a few times before you join a club.

You can pre-enter these events online at or enter at the event on the day.  Most people complete alone, but beginners are welcome to go in groups of two or three.  There are always people available to help newcomers.  A map is provided and can be kept afterwards.  You will need to hire an electronic timing chip (dibber) for a small fee.

Competitors at urban events normally wear running shorts, t-shirt and trainers.  In wooded areas full leg cover, such as running tights, is compulsory.  Shoes with better grip, such as trail running shoes are a definite advantage.  In urban areas a compass is not essential.  They are a help in the countryside and essential for the more technical courses.  Use of GPS navigation devices is not allowed.

When you arrive, if you have not entered online you will need to register by writing your details on a paper form.  There will be a choice of courses varying in difficulty and length, usually from around 2km to more than 10km.  Distance is quoted following a straight line around the course, but due to the need to run around paths, buildings, etc the actual route taken will be up to 50% longer. In urban areas, unaccompanied under-16s are only allowed on the shortest courses which avoid any unsupervised road crossings.

After registering and receiving your dibber you will be shown to the start.  Competitors on each course set off from the start at minute intervals.  Maps are given out after your race time has started, except for the most junior courses where they can be seen in advance.  Before starting your dibber will be cleared and checked.  At the start, finish and each control you insert your dibber in an electronic box.  You must return to the finish by course closure time, after which controls will be collected in. You return your dibber to the registration point, where you will be given a paper slip showing how long you took on each leg and overall.  Results are published on the club’s website in the evening.

Toilets are available at larger events. Water is not usually provided, so you will need to bring your own drink.

SafetyA first aider attends all BOK events.  There are always hazards on courses such as rough terrain, obstacles, vehicles, dogs, horses and other people.  You must select a course to match your ability and think about hazards as you take part.  All competitors take part at their own risk and are responsible for their own safety.