Trail Orienteering

Trail Orienteering

What is Trial-O?

TrailO Minisite

Competitors follow a trail (track or good path) through the terrain, and carry an orienteering map (either ‘forest’ or ‘sprint’ symbols) at 1:5,000 or 1:4,000 with a course marked on it. At each control, several kites are visible from the trail, and the task is to decide which one matches the centre of the circle/control description on the map. Apart from on Novice courses, the answer may be ‘none’. There are two kinds of control: ‘timed’, where the time taken to answer is recorded, and ‘not timed’.

An example of a TrailO control site and the map section with circle (used as a PreO timed control – see below – at JK 2014) is shown below:


Dave Gittus

There are two types of TrailO (see separate chapter on the TrailO Minisite for more detailed descriptions):

  • PreO: the competition is not timed, except for a couple of timed controls at the beginning or end of the course, and the competitor with the highest number of correct answers wins (with timed-control times as the tie-breaker). There is an overall time limit for completing the course.
  • TempO: the ‘sprint’ version of TrailO. At successive control stations, the time taken to give several answers, using small sections of the map with control circles in different places, is recorded. The competitor with the fastest time (after adding penalty times for wrong answers) wins.

Everyone can take part in TrailO competitions; competitors with disabilities can compete on equal terms.

Elite and Standard TrailO courses are put on at major events such as the JK, Scottish 6-Days and White Rose Weekend. There is an annual British TrailO Championships. Some clubs now offer ‘Taster TrailO’ at their mainstream events.

TrailO can also be a training exercise at all levels, e.g. to teach map symbols to juniors, or practice detailed map interpretation – and everything in between.

Trail O has its own World Championships, with separate Open and Paralympic classes; in 2006 Great Britain took a Gold Medal with an excellent performance by Dave Gittus.

Delve into the different chapters on the TrailO Minisite, and you should find all you need to know about the procedures and opportunities for competition in TrailO, and the many and varied techniques that can be used for solving TrailO problems.

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail the webmaster Clive Allen.

To find out more please click here.

Correct answer: E, the kite most to the right