If you are new to orienteering a great place to start is at one of our Saturday afternoon orienteering sessions. These are aimed at introducing new people to the sport as well as helping people improve. They have courses suitable for everyone, are often based around a cafe on one of our areas. There are volunteers available to help you and at most of our Saturday events there will also be an opportunity to do an introductory session which will explain what an orienteering course is, the symbols etc. on the map and a few easy techniques to help you.
But don't think that means the orienteering courses available at any of our other events wouldn't be suitable. Almost all of our events listed will have a course that is the right difficulty for you and vary in distance from 1 - 10+ kms.
Your First Orienteering Event
If you decide to come to one of our events for your first taste of orienteering, all of our volunteers are able to offer advice. Speak to a member of the registration team and explain your situation and they will be able to suggest a course for you to have a go at. Some of our events are aimed specifically at those new to the sports and are usually run by a club coach.
At orienteering events there are a number of courses, classified by colour and detailed below, which gradually increase in technical and physical difficulty.
|White||0.5-1.5km||This is usually the shortest course on offer and is aimed at young children who are moving off the string course (see below) and into the terrain. The courses are very simple and stick to main paths.|
|Yellow||1-3km||These courses are slightly more technical than the white courses with controls slightly off the paths, but on easy to find line features such as streams or walls.|
|Orange||3-5km||The orange courses are the usual start point for adult beginners at orienteering. Here you will be presented with basic route choice options and will use simple compass skills.|
|Light Green||3.5-4.5km||Here the technical and physical difficulty is increased again. The courses are slightly longer than orange and utilise point (e.g. boulders) and contour features.|
|Green||4-5km||These courses are at the most technical level (TD5) and are aimed at those wanting a relatively short run with a technical challenge.|
|Blue||5-7km||The courses and those below are all still at the highest technical difficulty, but are longer and more physically challenging than green courses|
|Brown||7km+||The brown courses are technically difficult and fairly long.|
|Black||10km+||These are the longest courses at standard orienteering events with typically distances of over 10km|
The above courses are for standard orienteering events, such as those in forests or on moorland. There are other types of events such as:
- Night - typically shorter distances than day events, a headtorch is a must (or a good torch for your first event)
- Relay - as the name suggests, a group of orienteers in teams of 3-8 competeing in a team.
- Sprint - these are fast-paced events that are only a few kilometres in length but have many controls often close together
- Urban - as the name suggestions these events are held in town and city centres or housing estates. There has been a big increase in the number of these events in the last few years. Urban races are held annulally in large cities such as London, Edinburgh and of course Sheffield.
- Mountain bike - longer (both in distance and time) than typical oienteering events and less frequent, but still good fun.
- Score - the aim for these events is to visit as many controls as you can, usually in a time limit. The key is that you can visit them in any order, unlike traditional orienteering where you have to stick to a set course.
- A combination of the above - urban sprints are quite common, as are night scores (in the winter). The UK's first sprint relay was recently hosted by SYO in Sheffield.
The Official British Orienteering guide for newcomers here.
Beginners guide to Orienteering by Oli Johnson on the Planet Fear website. This guide is particularly suited to those who already run, or climb, or otherwise enjoy keeping fit in the outdoors but are yet to try orienteering.
Mole Valley Orienteers - Jargon buster If you're new, or just started, and baffled by all the jargon (there's lots of it!) this Jargon Buster should help you out.
Here's a short intro to orienteering on YouTube. Watch out for the yellow and black SYO runners.
and this one features SYO's Nick Barrable with tips on sprint orienteering: