An Orienteering Course

Most orienteering courses are of the point-to-point variety, with a start, a series of controls to be visited in a designated order, and a finish. Usually the orienteer does not see the map and the course until after starting. However, at small local events the map may be familiar, and orienteers may copy their courses from a master map before starting. There are usually several courses available at a meet, ranging from white (a short beginners' course) through yellow, orange, green, brown, and red to blue (a long experts' course)

This is an example of a beginners' course. It has four controls, which must be visited in the order in which they are connected and numbered - though the orienteer is not constrained to following the lines (it's easier to go out of your way a bit to use a trail). With the course comes a clue sheet, describing the exact location of the control flag within the circle on the map.

The clue sheet for this course is:

WHITE 3.5 km 75 m climb
Start: Corner of the field
1 BL trail junction
2 JC stream junction
3 PG SW corner of the evergreens
4 MP SW end of the knoll
5 BL upper part of the reentrant
Finish: NE corner of the building (350 m)

The clues define:

BulletThe number of the controls (as shown on the map)
BulletThe control code (usually two letters) that will be attached to the flag that is at the correct location
BulletA description of the control feature, including (where appropriate) the part of the feature where the flag is hung.

Because verbal descriptions can be somewhat variable as well as specific to the language of the event organizer, advanced orienteers use a system of symbols to define the clues. Clue symbols are related to but not identical to map symbols, and the international clue symbol system is well worth learning once an orienteer progresses beyond the advanced beginner stage.

Back to Orienteering Home Page or to the map legend information.