Getting started at an organised event

Most people start orienteering by attending a club’s local event and having a go at an easy course.   After a few runs we’d like you to join a club. If you join BOK you are able to take part in training as well as usually receiving a discount on your entry.

You can pre-enter these events online at for our local events (or enter at the event on the day for junior or beginners courses), and for our bigger regional events.  Most people complete alone, but beginners are welcome to go in groups of two or three.  There are always people available to help newcomers.  You will need to hire an electronic timing chip (dibber) for a small fee, junior hire is free.

SIAC Dibber

Usually some compasses are available for loan.  Family groups (or a sole adult accompanying a junior – we call this ‘shadowing’) can enter the junior only and the adult(s) go free. The adult only pays for a spare map. Orienteering is very inexpensive to take part in, which makes it the ideal family activity.

Competitors at urban events normally wear running shorts, t-shirt and trainers.  In wooded areas full leg cover such as tracksuit bottoms is compulsory. Very little expense is needed to equip yourself for orienteering. Shoes with better grip, such as trail running shoes are a definite advantage, but good trainers will do initially.  In urban areas a compass is not essential.  They are a help in the countryside and essential for the more technical courses.  Use of GPS navigation devices is not allowed.

When you arrive, if you have not entered online, you will need to register by completing a paper entry form.  There will be a choice of courses varying in difficulty and length, usually from around 2km to more than 10km.  Distance is quoted following a straight line around the course, but due to the need to run around paths, buildings, etc. the actual route taken can be up to 50% longer. For larger urban events, under-16s are only allowed on the shortest courses which avoid any unsupervised road crossings. Local urban events require that all juniors are accompanied by an adult.  Ask at Registration or ‘Ask Me’ which course are suitable for you.

After registering and receiving your dibber you will be directed to the start.  Competitors on each course set off from the start at minute intervals.  Maps are given out after your race time has started, except for the most junior courses where they can be seen in advance. You keep your map at the end.  Before starting, your dibber must be cleared and checked.  At the start, finish and each control you insert your dibber in an electronic box to record your visit; if you have a contactless dibber (SIAC) you only need to actually insert the dibber at start and finish, and waft close to the controls themselves. You will be shown how to do it by the Ask Me team.  You must return to the finish by course closure time, after which the controls will be collected in. You return your dibber to the download team, where you will be given a paper slip showing how long you took overall, and on each leg.  Results are published on the club’s website in the evening.

Toilets are available at larger events. Water is not usually provided, so you will need to bring your own drink.

SafetyA first aider attends all BOK events.  There are always hazards on courses such as rough terrain, obstacles, vehicles, dogs, horses and other people.  You must select a course to match your ability and think about hazards as you take part.    Adult beginners running solo are recommended to start early in the start window. All competitors take part at their own risk and are responsible for their own safety.


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Types of Organised Event