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What is orienteering?

Punching systems

Map and compass

Types of event

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Map and compass

You have to navigate your way round an orienteering course using a specially-produced map and a compass. You're not allowed any other navigation aids such as global positioning systems (GPS).

Orienteering maps are very special. They're produced at a larger scale than most Ordnance Survey maps, and include very detailed information about the terrain. For example, boulders more than about half a metre high are usually mapped individually. The cost of the map is included in your entry fee.

Orienteering maps are produced at scales of 1:10,000 and 1:15,000. If you're used to Ordnance Survey maps -- which are generally at scales of 1:25,000 or 1:50,000 -- it will take you a little while to get used to the larger-scale orienteering maps. At first you'll find that you arrive at path junctions, etc. sooner than you were expecting to.

At some events you'll be given a map when you register, and you'll need to copy down your course from master maps positioned just after the start. In this case you'll need a map case or clear plastic bag to put the map in to protect it from rain, mud, and general wear and tear while you're going round your course.

At most events it's now the normal practice to provide maps with courses pre-printed on to them. In this case you'll pick up your map -- generally already sealed into a clear plastic bag -- immediately after you start.

In either case, you don't see your course until you start your run and the clock is already running.

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