TrailO Development Group recommendations

  • TrailO courses, both PreO & TempO, should be offered at all JK's and also at British Championships where possible
  • TrailO terrain needs to be accessible to those in wheelchairs or those who walk with difficulty
  • A TrailO area does not need to be particularly large. Existing maps may only need to be partially re-surveyed around control sites. New maps need less surveying than FootO maps. (See Appendix)
  • For TrailO courses at major events, it is preferable if the competition area is close to the main Assembly area.
  • In order that FootO competitors who wish to can compete in both FootO and TrailO, the TrailO competition may need to start and finish later in the day than the FootO.
  • TrailO needs to be included in the main budget of major events. To avoid unnecessary duplication, tasks like the ordering of accessible toilets, and the provision of medals & prizes needs to be done centrally by the event co-ordinator.
  • There is a stock of TrailO equipment for planners & organisers (see Appendix)
  • The key officials for TrailO courses at major events need to be appointed early in the planning cycle
  • The TrailO Development Group will, where possible offer help & guidance at all times but should not be regarded as the main source of event officials


TrailO at Major Events

The Board has recommended that TrailO courses are always offered at the JK and preferably also as part of one of the British Championship weekends, although some British TrailO Championships have been stand-alone events.


The JK is always held over the Easter weekend and, because many competitors are staying locally and do not have to make long journeys home until later in the weekend, it is usual for TrailO competitions to be held in the afternoons so that those who wish to do so can compete in the FootO events in the morning can take part in the TrailO event in the afternoon. This may mean that TrailO courses close later in the day than FootO courses and event coordinators need to be aware of this and plan accordingly.

Types of TrailO

In the IOF TrailO rules, the IOF defines two different disciplines within TrailO. These are PreO,  (a cross country course with control clusters along roads & tracks passable in a wheelchair,  plus one or more timed controls) and TempO, a course made up entirely of timed controls. Ideally courses of both disciplines should be offered at major events.

Types of TrailO competitor

TrailO competitors at events like the JK can largely be divided into three groups

a) Dedicated Trail orienteers who do not usually compete in JK FootO events. These competitors are mainly made up of former foot orienteers who for a variety of reasons are no longer fit or mobile enough to compete in FootO.

b) Regular foot orienteers who are also keen trail orienteers.

c) Regular foot orienteers, including families, who are interested to try TrailO and who compete on the Novice course.

Amongst these competitors there may be some wheelchair users. There are not many of them, but the rules of TrailO stipulate that courses must be planned to accommodate them without any disadvantage.


Depending on its regional location, the JK often attracts competitors from abroad including international TrailO competitors, particularly those from Scandinavia for whom it is sometimes the first major event of their season.

TrailO and British Championship weekend

Wherever possible, TrailO should also form part of one of the British Championship weekends. Depending on the suitability of the terrain and the time of year, it should be possible to hold the British TrailO Championships in combination with either the Championships/Relay weekend or the Sprint/Middle Championship weekend.


If neither of these is possible and the TrailO Championships have to be a stand alone event, it should be held in such terrain that it is possible to be able to hold a two day TrailO event of Championship standard or else the Championships should preferably be held on a Saturday in conjunction with a nearby high quality FootO event on a Sunday to make an attractive weekend for those able to compete in both.


The terrain for major TrailO events “shall be suitable for setting competitive trail orienteering courses of the appropriate standard. The terrain must be chosen so that the least mobile competitors, the person confined to and propelling a low fixed wheelchair and the person who walks slowly and with difficulty, can negotiate the course within the maximum time limit, using official assistance where provided.” (IOF Rules)

This is often quite difficult to achieve in practice in conventional forested areas in the UK, and frequently the most suitable areas for TrailO have been open parkland areas such as university campuses, areas of  open fell side or heathland, and areas of sand-dune terrain, forested or not, through which there is a good track network. If a standalone event is inevitable, on occasions small areas not suitable for FootO, e.g. ex mineral extraction sites and others not available to FootO due to environmental concerns may be suitable although the cost of mapping such areas may be high (but see the note on mapping below).

Map scales and terrain size

Suitable areas do not necessarily need to be large provided the terrain is detailed enough. TrailO normally uses maps at scales of either 1:4 000 or 1:5 000, and mapped to either ISSOM or ISOM standards. Areas mapped for Sprint events are useful. A TrailO planner may request some remapping to add extra detail around some areas being used as control sites, which may have been omitted from the original mapping to aid clarity.

Location of the TrailO event

For TrailO at major events, it is always better if the competition area is as close as possible to the main assembly area. Whilst there may be some wheelchair users amongst the competitors, most TrailO competitors at major UK events are either current Foot orienteers or former orienteers who are, for one reason or another, no longer able to compete on FootO courses. They will, however, probably have travelled with fellow orienteers, or may wish to socialise with friends in the main assembly areas.

It has been demonstrated at a number of World Cup and Championships events, that it is perfectly possible to hold TrailO and FootO competitions in the same area at the same time.

If, for practical reasons, it proves impossible to hold the TrailO alongside the FootO, then a suitable area within close driving distance should be found, so that competitors can travel quickly between one event and the other.


The budgets for both JK and BOC should include elements for TrailO especially mapping and the refund of reasonable expenses for major officials.


JK coordinators will need to include an order for an accessible toilet in their calculations, sited near to the area used for the TrailO parking. They also need to remember to include medals and prizes for the winners of the JK TrailO in both the O (Open) and P (physically challenged) classes. If possible these should be presented at the main prize-giving ceremony. The same would hold true if TrailO is incorporated into a British Championship weekend.

Publicity, entries and involvement of TrailO officials

It is desirable for areas to be fixed early in the planning cycle and a TrailO official should be involved in the event steering group meetings. TrailO information needs to be included on the event website and in all other publications. Whenever possible TrailO entries should be taken with those of the FootO.  

Whilst the TrailO Development Group will always offer help & guidance about TrailO to the Organising Committees of major events, and indeed suggest suitably knowledgeable officials, it should be the responsibility of the organising club/regions to supply the major officials (Planner, Organiser, Controller), rather than expecting the TDG to do this for them.


Organising a TrailO event in conjunction with a Major Event


In the current absence of official BOF rules for TrailO, TrailO competitions in the UK have always been run under the IOF rules & guidelines.

Parking & Assembly

Ideally TrailO courses should be within easy access of the main car parking and assembly of the main event. Trail orienteers usually travel to major events with friends and family who are competing in the FootO events. If the TrailO area is separate from the main event, it should be within a short drive.

Car parking should be close to the competition area. It is unreasonable to expect competitors with limited mobility to undertake long walks to and from a competition area, particularly when a PreO course itself may take two hours or longer to complete. An accessible toilet needs to be provided at or near the car park.


Classic TrailO courses, now renamed  PreO by the IOF, comprise a cross country course along roads & tracks passable in a wheelchair, with anything from 12-20 control clusters, plus one or more timed controls, which can be placed at either at the beginning, end or in the middle of the course depending on circumstances. Course lengths usually vary between 1.5k & 3.0k depending on the terrain. PreO courses must be completed within a fixed time allowance, depending on how many controls are used, and the length of the course. The IOF rules provide a formula for calculating the time allowed.

Two PreO courses should be planned on each day of competition. One at Elite level and an easier Novice course. With careful planning it is usually possible to do this using most of the Elite control flag clusters for the  Novice course, but setting easier problems. The Novice course does not necessarily have to include timed controls.

A TempO course consists of a number of timed control stations, each one offering three or four problems from the same position, with each problem to be solved as quickly as possibly, usually with a limit of 30 seconds. There is no overall time limit for completing a TempO course.

Main Officials

  • Organiser – the on the day TrailO organiser does not need to be an experienced Trail orienteer, provided that either of the other two main officials are suitably experienced.
  • Planner – the planner should be either an experienced Trail orienteer, or an experienced Foot orienteer with a working knowledge of TrailO, working in conjunction with an experienced Trail orienteer as Controller.
  • Controller -  The controller for a major TrailO event should ideally be an experienced Trail orienteer and either a qualified FootO Controller or an IOF TrailO advisor. If the planner is highly experienced, then the Controller may not need to be as experienced in TrailO.

Other officials

  • Registration, Starter (can be same person), Timed control officials – 2 or 3 persons per timed control cluster. None of these need necessarily be experienced in TrailO (or indeed orienteers). The timed control officials need to be trained for their job beforehand.
  • If there are wheelchair users competing on the Elite course, the organising team will need to provide an escort for each wheelchair user. The escort's role is to assist the competitor's passage round the course. If the competitor provides their own escort, an official escort may also have to be provided to ensure fair play. (See 'Guidance for Escorts in the Useful resources files)
  • Results    Two officials, a reader and a computer operator working on a laptop computer and printer, can process results once competitors control cards become available. Ideally they need to be provided with a separate tent, and not be distracted by other competitors/officials. Results should be available as soon as possible both on the event website and should also be displayed in the main Assembly area.


Beyond tents, tables & chairs for the Registration team and ideally a tent or gazebo for timed controls, the equipment needed for TrailO is fairly simple.

  • Control flags, canes, viewing point markers, stopwatches for timed controls, chairs for competitors at the timed controls. Start & Finish banners. Depending on the position and siting of the timed controls, it may be necessary to mask the control clusters from the sight of waiting competitors, using tents, flags or tarpaulins.
  • There is a stock of 150+ flags & bamboo canes, belonging to British Orienteering, usually held by members of the TrailO Development Group, together with pin punches (Currently TrailO does not use SI or EMIT.) and stopwatches/clipboards for timed controls.  Most of this equipment was used during WTOC 2012
  • Control cards.  Special control cards are used, printed on waterproof paper. There is no central stock of these, but there are customisable templates stored as Excel spreadsheet files. An example file is included in the resources file. TrailO does not use electronic punching at the moment, although it will be used in the future.
  • Results are usually produced quickly after the event recorded on a customisable Excel spreadsheet.
  • There is also available a software suite developed in Sweden by Martin Fredholm. This copes better with TempO. This was used for WTOC 2012 There is an annual licence fee, (currently at least €150).


As has been stated before, TrailO normally uses maps at scales of either 1:4 000 or 1:5 000, and mapped to either ISSOM or ISOM standards. Areas mapped for Sprint events are often useful. Often a TrailO planner will request some remapping to add extra detail around some areas being used as control sites.

Brian Parker – mapper WTOC 2012 states

“It is important to realise that, although trail orienteering maps usually show the whole of the environs of the competition area, the fraction of the map used for the control sites is very small indeed, much less than might be thought. If we say that a typical control site requires 50m x 50m of careful mapping and there are 20 sites in a competition, the total area involved is 50,000 sq m, which is one twentieth of a sq km. A typical FootO maps is 5 sq km or more. So the mapping area requirement for a TrailO map is about 1% of a FootO map.

This much less than might be imagined requirement should be borne in mind when an area with no pre-existing FootO map is proposed.

It is perfectly possible to use a corridor map or even a segmented one, this latter being the norm in TempO. Complete area maps are preferred for aesthetic and concordance with FootO reasons, but are far from essential.”

Maps should ideally be printed on waterproof material, although paper maps in protective map bags are also acceptable.


The course planner needs ideally to be a competent trail orienteer. For planning guidance, he should use the various IOF technical publications.

The IOF publishes on its website a number of documents devoted to Planning guidelines. Most of these have been written by Brian Parker and are relevant to TrailO in the UK and all TrailO planners should be encouraged to read and be familiar with their contents.

Courses can be planned & prepared using either the planning module of OCAD or the Condes software (recommended).  The Open Source Purple Pen course setting software does not yet support TrailO.

As well as preparing the course map, the planner needs to produce a solution sheet showing the answers to the problems set on the course. OCAD is usually used for this task.

These solution sheets, which do not need to be waterproof, should be made available to competitors who have completed the course, either once all competitors have finished, or once the last competitor has safely started on the course, at the discretion of the controller.

Further help and guidance

The TrailO Development Group of British Orienteering will offer as much help and assistance as is reasonable to the Organisers of a major event, and will probably be able to suggest suitable qualified and experienced officials able to act as Planners or Controllers.

Further resources

The IOF website (see address above) contains the Technical Guidelines, and the Technical Introduction to TrailO for experienced Foot orienteers.

It also has the IOF TrailO rules, technical guidelines for timed controls and guidance on certain particular control problems.

IOF TrailO Rules 2021 can be downloaded here.

Also attached to this document:

PreO control card – customisable Excel file of card used at BTOC 2015

TempO control card - customisable Excel file

PreO Results spreadsheet – customisable Excel file from BTOC 2012 and also a blank spreadsheet suitable for up to 22 controls with instructions for use.

TempO Results spreadsheet - with macros, with instructions for use

TempO results spreadsheet, without macros

Guidance for escorts, WTOC2012