Here's what to do on the day of an orienteering event. This is written for a medium-sized event with a range of courses, in low-key events some of the steps can be left out.
  1. Look out of the window. If the weather is really bad, check with the 2ZB cancellation service at quarter to and quarter past the hour. But cancellation is very rare, and only happens if we get really bad weather for a minor event. (In fact I doubt if anyone remembers the anti-hoax code we have to quote at 2ZB!)
  2. Pack your gear (see equipment, later), a few dollars and some lunch. Leave your dog at home!
  3. Find the "signposted from" point, as advertised in the newsletter, event brochure or on the website. Follow "Orienteering" or "O" signs from there to the venue. If there are gates, the person who opens it must close it, relying on the car behind does not work amd we have lost the use of areas because of it!
  4. When you get there you'll find (a) parking (b) a registration desk (c) the start for the courses and (d) the finish for the courses. These may be separated, close together or one and the same point depending on the area. After parking your first port of call is the registration point, usually in a tent, caravan or farm building.
  5. At registration there will be a notice advising the courses available. Choose carefully, especially the navigational standard if you haven't doen this before: you will take at least 10 minutes per kilometre, and each 100m of climb adds the equivalent of another km. If in doubt, ask for advice.
  6. Pick up a clip card of the right colour for your course (see notice above) and fill in the details, twice because there is a tear-off bit! "Class" is M or W (for your sex) and (roughly) your age (only important for competition) or simply "Rec" for recreational.
  7. Pick up a control description sheet for your course. (There is an international pictorial system sometimes used for red courses but the others will have ordinary English words, and code numbers that match those on the control markers. Hint: if you copy the control code letters and descriptions onto the boxes on your card, you will have one less piece of paper to worry about. Us txt msg abbrvs.
  8. Pay your entry fee at the registration desk. Except at really small events there is a discount for club membership, ask about the half-price introductory subscription! You'll get a map and plastic bag for its protection. If you don't have a compass and whistle, ask about hire. Note that your map does not usually have a course on it at this point; you copy the points you have to visit from a "master map".
  9. Check if there are any corrections to be made to the map (not so likely with maps in the computer these days.) If so, copy them onto your map. This is the time to familiarise yourself with the map legend, and figure out which way is north so you can orient your map correctly from the start. If you're not sure, ask someone who looks as though they know what they're doing to show you where you are on the map.
  10. To spread people out on each course, the start times are staggered. Somewhere there will be a timesheet with spaces at 2- or 3-minute intervals. Fill in your initials on the sheet, and the time on your card (two places.) Allow enough time for a warmup and stretching if you're going to run, and for following the tapes to the start point if it's not close to registration.
  11. At the start point, hand in the tear-off part of the card. You are going to get a certain amount of time, usually 3 or 6 minutes, to copy the circles and numbers for your course, and the finish clock is delayed by this amount so that the copying time is not counted.
  12. When your time is called for map marking, find the master map for your course. Copy the circles and numbers EXACTLY as they are on the master, and join them up with lines. Take your time to get them right, but you'll usually have spare time. Wait until the starter says you can go.
  13. Go For it! Head off for number 1, taking whatever route is sensible for you: the long, reliable route, the risky short-cut, or if you must the scratchy route through the thick bush! Complete the rest of the course, in numerical order.
  14. Eventually, navigate to the finish, where your time is recorded. HAND YOUR CARD IN NO MATTER WHAT, so we know you are not still out there, lost.
  15. Have a chat with others on your course. Did they have trouble with the same controls? Which way did they go to number 7? Wasn't the view from number 5 superb?
  16. The tear-off bits of your card are usually stapled on a string when the times are worked out. If you are so inclined, have a look and marvel at the speed some people can do. So what? You got more orienteering for your money!
  17. Return any hired equipment, thank the course-planner, and if you can, ask if there are any jobs to be done.

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