WPOC Orienteering Events


An orienteering event is an opportunity for people to participate in the sport of orienteering.  WPOC hosts 10-12 orienteering events each year; all are open to the public.  At these events, WPOC offers one or more courses (see below) and participants choose which course they want to try.  Generally, there is a map fee collected to participate in a course.  We call it a map fee because we collect based on the number of maps used, not by the number of participants.  For example:  an individual will use only one map at a time (one map fee); a group of people may share a single map (one map fee) or get multiple maps for members of the group (multiple map fees).

How it Works:

These are the steps a participant goes through at an orienteering event.  There are three stations at every event (Registration, Start and Finish); there are always signs marking where these are.


WPOC carries liability insurance for all of our events through the national organization (Orienteering USA).  One of the requirements of the insurance agents is that every participant at every event sign a waiver at least once a year.  The waiver essentially says that you won't sue WPOC, the volunteers at the event, and the people/organizations that own the area we are using for the event.  The waiver also causes the participant to be covered by the liability insurance that WPOC carries.  We normally structure the waiver text so that once a person signs it for an event, s/he is covered for all WPOC events for the rest of that calendar year.  This saves a little time at the Registration table.


We expect the orienteering skill level of our participants to vary widely. We provide instruction regarding use of the map and compass and the whole process of orienteering at every event.


Participation in one of our events usually costs $6 per map. If a group of people want to go on a course together and one map is enough, the cost is $6 total. If each individual wants a map, it is $6 each. For any individual or group that does a second course an event, we reduce the map fee to $3 per map.  Club members who participate get a $1 discount on their first map fee at an event.


We try to provide pre-printed, 5-color maps for participants for all events. The pre-printing shows the day's course already on the map. If we run out of pre-printed, participants may have to copy the course onto their map (this is done off the clock).

Types of Courses:

WPOC uses two main types of orienteering courses: cross-country and score. Cross-country courses require the participant to go to a sequence of markers (controls) in a specific order. Participants are timed with the fastest person on each course the winner for that day. Note:  There is no requirement to run; if you don't care about the time, just go at your own pace.  Score courses provide a collection of markers that may be visited in any order and have an imposed time limit. Participants try to visit as many markers as possible in the given time; a point system is used to determine the winner; penalties are assessed for participants who exceed the time limit.  We also offer some variations of these main types on occasion, including  Mini-Rogaines which are an endurance form of score courses; Night-O usually uses a score type format that takes place in the dark; Ski-O is just like cross-country but on skis; Scrambles are a mixture of cross-country and score; Sprints are short cross-country courses; and Relays are a sequence of cross-country courses.


Cross-country courses are color coded to indicate their approximate difficulty. In the United States, the color coding follows this sequence from easiest to hardest: White (Beginner) - Yellow (Novice) - Orange (Intermediate) - Brown (Advanced Short) - Green (Advanced Medium) - Red (Advanced Long) - Blue (Advanced Very Long). This is to accommodate orienteers who are new to the sport (White and Yellow courses), those with some experience (Orange course), and substantial experience (Brown through Blue courses). At WPOC events, we normally use only White, Yellow, Orange, and Brown or Red courses; this is because we do not get many participants who can do the most difficult courses.  As the courses become more difficult, they get longer and the trails and other "linear features" become less useful.

Score courses generally have some easy-to-get-to controls and some that are more difficult. At WPOC events having a score course, either 60 minutes or 90 minutes may be used as the time limit. Points may be fixed at 10 per control with penalties at 5 points per minute late; or points may be variable with some controls worth more than others and penalties may be progressive.

Mini-rogaines have durations of 2 hours to 6 hours and typically use maps covering very large areas

Night orienteering uses controls that have reflective tape to make them more visible in the dark.

Scrambles are essentially cross-country in nature but have two or more groups of controls which the participant is allowed to visit in any order.

Sprints are short duration cross-country courses typically held in parks or locations with a lot of open areas.  At sprints, participants are expected to go on two courses; however, there is only one map fee for the pair of courses.

Course Descriptions:

The course descriptions sheet (clue sheet) that we use normally contains English text descriptions of the control features for White and Yellow courses.  We use international symbolic descriptions for the advanced courses  (Brown, Green, Red and Score).  We provide both English text and symbolic descriptions for the Orange course as it is a transition point in skill level.


"Punching" is the act of  proving that you have reached a control; it may be done manually or electronically.  With manual punching, there is a red punch at each control; it is used to punch a pattern of holes in a paper that the participant carries around the course.  With electronic punching, there is an electronic box at each control that keeps time; when the participant reaches the control, s/he puts a SI-card (also called a "finger stick")  into the box and has the time and a code recorded on the card.



Orienteering is generally an all-weather sport. Short of tornadoes, floods, and large snow storms, the event will go on as scheduled. In the rare case that an event must be canceled, every attempt will be made to notify participants who are known to be coming to the event.