Guide to Orienteering

Orienteering is an exciting and challenging outdoor sport that exercises mind and body. The aim is to navigate between control points marked on an orienteering map. In orienteering the challenge is to complete the course in the quickest time choosing your own best route. As a recreational activity, it doesn’t matter how young, old or fit you are, as you can run at your own pace.

Map

The orienteering map is a very detailed representation of the terrain. The map also shows where it is allowed to run and where not. In urban events the scale is 1:4000, 1 cm on the map represents 40 m in the terrain. Orienteering map symbols.

Course

The course is represented on your map with following symbols:
Triangle = start, numbered circles = control points, double circle = finish
You must visit the controls in the order they are numbered. At the ‘start’ you will need to ‘punch’ the control, i.e. placing your Sportident card into a unit which starts the timer. At the finish you are required to ‘download’ the information which is on your Sportident card. This shows whether you have completed the course in the correct order. You choose the route between the control points on your own. The challenge is to choose the fastest routes between the control points and execute them well. See a map with orienteering course.

Control points

Marked with an orienteering flag and an electronic timekeeping unit. Each control has a unique code (e.g. 31). On the map you will also find a control description with codes for each control on your course. By checking the code with the control description you can make sure that you are at the right control. Note: if you punch a wrong control in-between it does not matter. Just continue to your control. However, you must visit the controls in the correct order (Start-1-2-3…).

Start procedure

In contrast to running races orienteering is with individual start. Each minute one runner - or team if you are doing the Team Challenge - starts on each course. A start list will be published in advance. Please note that you need to be at the start 3 min before your start time to clear and check your Sportident card.

What do I need to bring?

  • Just come with your sport clothing and running shoes.
  • The timing chip you collect at the event centre.
  • The map will be handed to you in the moment of your start.
  • For your first sprint orienteering experiences you do not need a compass. Just orientate the map to the main features. As soon as you get more experienced a compass will speed up your navigation.

Which class to choose?

Controls are easy to find in urban areas. The main difference between classes is the length and complexity of route choices between controls. If it is your first experience with orienteering we recommend either the Newcomer's or the Team Challenge class for maximum fun. In the Team Challenge you can team up with friends and run together - each of you will get a map but you have to complete the course together with one Sportident card. The Newcomer's class is for individual starters. Course lengths for both of these options will be approximately 3-4 km per stage, depending on your own route choices. However, as VOC is an open event all classes are available to you, so you are not restricted to these choices.

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Orienteering
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Course sample
Part of orienteering map with course
Orienteering flag
Orienteering control

Partners

Special thanks go to our partners for supporting the Vienna O Challenge 😊