A guide to the event structure
On the British
Orienteering Fixtures List events are classified by level and by
type. This guide will help you to select the events and courses most
suitable for you, and answer some FAQs.
What is meant by the level of
A four-tier event structure is being introduced from January
2011. This classifies events as Level A, B, C or D. Let's
explain . . .
|Relatively informal and low cost events, aimed at club
orienteers from nearby. May have a limited range of courses, which are
mainly from the local and regional area. A wider range of
courses, which are identified by colour, with
suggestions for various age classes. Aims to provide competition
against a wider group of people, but without travelling a long distance.
an opportunity for the more experienced who are prepared to
travel in order to enjoy a wider variety of terrain and competition
from orienteers from around the country on challenging courses.
Courses based on
colour and age classes. Pre-entry may be required for the main courses.
an opportunity to compete against the
best orienteers in the country on top quality terrain, and offer the
ultimate orienteering challenges in the UK. Courses
usually based on
age classes. Pre-entry required for the main courses.
So what are colour coded courses and the various age classes?
And how do they relate to each other?
|The courses available will be a selection from White,
Yellow, Orange, Light Green, Green, Blue, Brown and Black. Basically,
is the easiest and shortest. Brown (or, occasionally, Black) is the
most difficult and
the longest. At a Level D Event, there may only be Yellow, Orange,
and Blue on offer. At a Level B Event, the full range of colours is
likely to be available (subject to the technical nature of the area),
as well as options such as Short Green or Long Orange. (Entry details
will give you the information you need to help you to chose.)
your age on
the 31st December:
10 and under = M/W 10
12 and under = M/W 12
and so on, in 2 year age groups up to & including M/W20
Age 21 to 34 inclusive = M/W21
35 and over = M/W 35
40 and over = M/W 40
and so on, in 5 year age groups
You change class on the 1st January. So whether your 50th
birthday occurs on 10th January or 25th December you would give your
age class as M (or W) 50 for the whole of the year.
For senior courses, there may be long and short options (e.g. W35L and
W35S) and sometimes novice (N). Juniors may be offered a choice too
(e.g. M10A versus the easier M10B).
Colours & Age Classes
White or Yellow course. Light Green would be deemed appropriate for
M/W14. If you are an M50, Blue would usually be the advised choice, or
Green if you wanted a shorter option. Such guidance should be available
on the entry details. You will need to state your age class as well as
your colour choice on your entry.
As a newcomer to the sport, you would normally expect to start
orienteering at a Level D Event. However, many of the Juniors would
usually start competing
White or Yellow courses. An adult novice might choose Yellow or perhaps
Orange for the first experience.
What are the different types of
The most common type of event is the 'cross country'. But
there are many other options. Today's Level D Event may be a Score
the forthcoming Level A Event may be the British Middle Distance
|These are the traditional distance events (sometimes
specifically described as Long Distance) held in forests, open land and
environments. Cross country means that you take the controls in a set
order. Winning times on each course are expected to be around 1 hour.
shorter length courses giving winning times of 30-35
speed over a short distance. Cross country, with lots
of controls, closely spaced. Often held on urban terrain such as
University campuses or high
density housing estates. Winning times 12 - 15minutes.
that used in Sprint races, but courses are longer
and distances between controls usually greater.
where courses are longer than usual with winning times well over an
time, e.g. 1 hour, to visit as many controls as
possible. Different controls have different points values. The furthest
controls are often worth the most points. There are penalties for
- some events are held at night, where you will need a
torch to light your way.
- you could run for your club as a member of a relay team.
Different relay classes exist for different age groups.
- there are multi-day events (often during holiday periods)
where your individual day results are combined to give your overall
Do I have to run in any
specified age or colour class
The basic answer is No, but there are some qualifications:
When competing in an event where the courses are based
on age classes, you have the option of running competitively in a
harder age class. If, for example, you're an M35 you can 'run up'
a class in
M21. But, you can't run down a class in M40. If you prefer a
shorter course you can compete in M35S. Women can compete in Men's
classes, but not vice versa.
Where the event offers colour coded courses, you may choose to
ignore the age class suggestions. However, you must always declare on
your entry your actual age class.
How long are the courses ?
A Yellow [Colour Coded] or W/M10 course would normally be in
the region of 2-3km.
A Brown or Black [Colour Coded] or M21 course would normally
be in the region of 10-12km.
However course lengths vary considerably according to the
terrain. In generally flat terrain, courses are longer, whereas in more
challenging terrain, courses are shorter. Other factors that are taken
into account are the amount of 'climb', or height gain (every 10m of
climb is taken as equivalent to an extra distance of 0.1km). The nature
of the terrain is also relevant. For example, open fell guarantees much
than dense plantation. Also note that course lengths are measured by
the straight line distance between controls, which is not necessarily
the best route choice. So in practice you can expect to run further
than the advertised distance. This is particularly the case in urban
races where buildings obstruct the straight line route.
What if I have small children ?
Small children are catered for in one of two ways. If they are
capable of doing a White or Yellow or M/W 10 class then they may. They
don't have to be 10
years old to do so. (Older children may also choose these colour
courses as a starting point.) It is permissible for a parent to shadow
a child. If the parent wants to have a competitive run him/herself,
then this must take place before shadowing the child. Arrange this with
the event organisers,
Alternatively, many Level A and B events offer string
What's a string course ?
A string course is exactly as it sounds. A length of string is
laid out to form a closed loop. Controls are placed along the string.
Children follow the string, punching their map at each control (just
like the bigger boys and girls !), knowing that as long as they follow
the string they can't get lost. This introduces them to the concept of
orienteering and helps to build their confidence.
Parents are always welcome and may follow children to ensure
they don't get lost.
What happens if both parents
want to take part ?
Well it can be something of a logistical exercise! It's
catered for with 'split starts'. One parent is given an early start and
the other a late one.
It's become a lot easier with the introduction of electronic
punching, because instead of organisers having to assign a specific
time for the second start, they just advise the parent who runs second
to go to the Start as soon as is convenient.
Am I limited to the events I can
run in ?
You can compete in most events without being a
member of either SROC or British
Orienteering. However, you will often have to pay a higher entry fee.
Discounts on the entry fee at events within your
region (i.e. North West in the case of SROC) are available if you are a
Local Member of British Orienteering. By becoming a National
Member of British Orienteering, you become eligible to compete
in any of British Championship Events, and will be entitled to
entry fees at events anywhere in
Click here for more details on Membership
and its benefits.
Want to find out more about the event
structure? Go to the British
Last Updated : 02.12.10