British Orienteering continues to keep our guidelines for event organisers, coaches and participants under review as the government COVID-19 guidance evolve across the UK. Protecting the health of all our participants, members, volunteers and staff, and ensuring that we play our part in suppressing the spread of COVID-19, remain our highest priorities.
Our initial understanding is that the new Government restrictions announced in England on Tuesday 22 September will continue to permit orienteering events to be held in line with the current British Orienteering guidelines. However, we will review the detailed Government guidance as it emerges and will make any necessary changes to the British Orienteering guidelines as soon as possible.
British Orienteering will also continue to work with SOA, WOA and NIOA to review the impact of the restrictions announced by the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive.
We will issue a further update once the revised Government guidance for sport has become available.
Following the review of the Return to Orienteering guidance in England by the Board of British Orienteering on Tuesday 1st September, please find the link to the full document.
The key changes are:
Subject to a further review of the implementation of these revised guidelines, British Orienteering will aim to move in future revisions towards a higher start rate of up to four starters per minute from each start location, with allocated start times.
British Orienteering would welcome further feedback from clubs about their experience of operating within the current COVID-19 guidelines, and about any challenges they have encountered in obtaining permissions from landowners or local authorities.
The Board plans a further review of the guidance in October, subject to any further changes in the government guidance.
To view the current guidance visit: COVID Safe Orienteering
British Orienteering is supporting National Fitness Day again this year. We are encouraging all those who have never tried orienteering to download one of over 500 Permanent Orienteering Courses across the UK.
As we ease lockdown restrictions, orienteering clubs around the UK are getting together to promote their Permanent Orienteering Courses as a way of discovering the outdoors in a socially distanced way. There are over 500 Permanent Courses around the country and many are within easy reach of towns and cities.
A new video has just been released by the Orienteering Foundation, explaining how to get started on a Permanent Orienteering Course.
The video sets out how to understand the map and how to orientate it to match the environment around you. It gives examples of the checkpoints you could be looking for and shows you how to download a map.
Orienteering is a sport where you have to navigate your way around a series of checkpoints in the fastest time. Permanent Orienteering Courses are exactly that - permanent. They have checkpoints, in the form of posts or plaques, in forests, heathlands and parks, which you can navigate to at any time, and at your own pace.
These courses allow you to discover new areas of parks or forests that are a little bit more off the beaten track, and further from other members of the public. They're ideal for small groups or individuals, so perfect for social distancing.
It's a chance to learn something new, an opportunity for everyone to connect with the outdoors, get some exercise and have the satisfaction of completing a challenge.
Key to all orienteering is the specially drawn map. The film shows how this map works, the way the symbols are drawn and how courses are printed with a start and finish symbol and checkpoints to find on the way round. The film also shows how to line your map up with features to help you go in the right direction. Other than having the map, you need little else to get going. A compass isn't necessary on simple courses, just be dressed ready for the outdoors whether you are planning to run or walk.
Many local clubs have also been developing these courses virtually, and our Virtual Orienteering Courses can be completed using your GPS smartphone or watch. More information on Permanent and Virtual Orienteering Courses can be found on the British Orienteering website.
With the opportunity to select the difficulty of a course, look for a course in a particular terrain, search for wheelchair accessible course or embrace technology with an added virtual element, there has never been a better time to embrace your next outdoor adventure with the sport of Orienteering on National Fitness Day.
If you do one activity today, make sure you download a Permanent Orienteering Course today and go Orienteering!
Report by Pauline Tryner (Organiser) and Dom Dakin both who are members of South Yorkshire Orienteers
Graves Park was our second local evening event run under the new COVID guidelines, but the first on council-owned land. The first was an urban sprint held at Sheffield University’s currently empty student halls – The Edge. Permission took a while to sort out, but Sheffield City Council were very helpful and were primarily concerned with ensuring we were following the British Orienteering Guidance. Hopefully it will now be easier to sort future permissions, as we hold lots of events on areas owned by Sheffield City Council.
From an Organiser’s perspective, Graves Park was a very easy place to organise an event under the new guidance. A wide-open space adjacent to a convenient car park allowed plenty of room to socially distance at the two Starts, Finish and Download.
Following the COVID guidance was very straight forward. It takes more work in advance than would normally be required for a local event, but on the night itself I had very little to do. A small team of very willing and capable volunteers helped to run the event, with two on each start (one being a junior to deal with the map boxes), one on download, one ‘meeter & greeter’, and a few helping the planner to control collect.
One of the things that struck me most about both events was how pleased people were to be back orienteering. The grateful comments made by participants certainly made the extra effort involved in organising events now worthwhile.
At the two events we’ve consciously tried out different methods for entries and starts to see what work best. At our first event we used Fabian4, utilising the new feature where competitors can select specific start times. On the day, we had a normal taped ‘box start’. 134 competitors started in a two-hour window - the more challenging orienteering area appealed to more experienced orienteers. For the Graves Park event we tried using our own SYO Entry system that we’ve built on Square Online, a standard free e-commerce site designed for small businesses, and instead asked competitors to select start blocks. We had 94 competitors over two hours from two starts and used a start system where participants queued at stakes spaced 2m apart. Both events were open to British Orienteering members only, so the majority were very used to using Fabian4, but we wanted to test our new system that may be preferable if we start to invite newcomers/non-British Orienteering members back to future events. Both systems worked fine and had their pros and cons.
For both events we had a ‘meeter & greeter’ who gave out information, reminded people of the guidance and provided directions. This worked very well. We had four large (5 litres from PHS) pump-action hand sanitisers available so that people could sanitise their hands before collecting hire dibbers, immediately before the two starts, and after finishing before downloading. This also meant all helpers were never far from a hand sanitiser. One of the things we learnt from the first event was the need to ensure we didn’t have any bunching at download so at Graves Park we put out stakes 2m apart for people to queue at. Most of the time they weren’t needed but there are always occasions when groups of people happen to all finish at once! Due to people hand sanitising immediately before downloading, we did provide printed splits.
The planner, Karl, made a few adjustments to the way he planned; thinking very carefully about the start and finish locations. He also tried to make sure people went the same way round the area so that they didn’t need to pass each other on narrow footpaths.
South Yowkshire Orienteers (SYO) were very keen to hold a couple of low-key events in August to see how they went under the new guidance. Having successfully held these two events we now feel confident we can hold larger events safely once the guidance allows, and have 3 further events planned in September.
Photo credits: Mark Dakin (SYO)
Celebrating the re-start of orienteering.
What activities or events has your club organised? Have you recently attended a re-start event? Was it your second or third? How dis you find it?
Maybe you have downloaded a Permanent Orienteering and/or Virtual Orienteering Course and enjoyed it with your family? Or you have recently enjoyed taking part in a local MapRun course or even designed your own MapRun course for members of your club to take part in?
However, you have been taking part in orienteering, share your experiences with others who may not have re-started orienteering at their club yet.
Share your orienteering news and send your snippets, and photos to Jennie Taylor Communications Officer.
To view the current British Orienteering Guidance visit: