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What is orienteering?

Punching systems

Map and compass

Types of event

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What is Orienteering?

Orienteering is basically a "race with navigation".

The course planner sets out a number of control points in the competition area, which is generally a forest, an area of open moorland or a mixture of both. Each control point is marked by an orange and white "kite", and has some way of enabling competitors to prove that they have visited that particular control. More about that later.

Competitors must visit each of the control points on their course in the correct order, and the winner is the person who completes the course in the shortest time.

Unlike a road race, there is no mass start. Each competitor has his or her own start time, so each person has to do his or her own navigation between the control points.

Contrary to what some people believe, orienteering is definitely not about tramping along with a rucksack on your back. Competitive orienteering is a running race, and the top competitors are able to navigate accurately while running hard through the forest. For adults, course winning times are typically in the range 50 - 80 minutes, depending on the level of the competition.

An orienteering event includes several different courses, so all levels of ability and experience are catered for. More about this later. The range of courses on offer makes orienteering a very family-friendly sport. Children can do the shorter courses while their parents compete on the longer ones. And it's certainly not compulsory to be ultra-competitive. Some people just jog or walk round a course.

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