Getting the map for your event

First, you will need to get a hold of the map for the area of the event. The map is an OCAD file that is stored on our version control server. Browse to the Maps section of the website and download the OCAD file of your map.

Maps tab (top of every page on GVOC site) --> Click on Maps (blue button) --> Click on the name of the map from the list --> At the map's page click "Download" This should give an .ocd file. [Typically, it can also be accessed from the Map Location link assigned for your WET].

To create a course you will need some course setting software. There are several options:

  • Download Purple Pen (Free)
  • Download Condes (Contact Mapping Sub-Committee lead Brian Ellis for GVOC's club license information)

There is also an OCAD viewer available (, but it does not allow you to create courses. However, it can be useful to view and export the map into an image format (like jpeg/gif).

Note Purple Pen does not run on a Mac; if you are a Mac owner, you will need to find an alternative solution either in terms of software or by borrowing a friend's computer and installing Purple Pen on that!

Course setting

The general strategy for course setting is to design a course at home, then check all locations in the field, and then make any necessary adjustments.

There are different formats you can use including:

  • Regular point-to-point
  • Score-o (orienteers need to decide best order to visit controls)
  • Butterfly loops or forked courses (several versions of same course so orienteers visit controls in different orders)
  • Goat (orienteer is allowed to strategically skip one or two controls on the course)
  • Memory-O (parts of map are blank and orienteers need to memorize from a master map or fill stations on course)
  • Dog-bones (controls are in pairs and must be visited as a pair)
  • Relay
  • Create your own! If you have a neat idea for a course, try it out!

Some general course setting tips and considerations:

  1. Pick a good location for the start/finish area, keeping in mind parking and possibly a shelter for the rain, if available. Is lighting available? Can a good course start and end there?
  2. Create a mix of longer 'route choice' legs with shorter 'fine navigation' legs. A good rule of thumb is to use the simpler areas of the maps for the longer route choice legs (you can often use the simpler, residential areas of the map), and the more technically difficult areas for the shorter legs.
  3. It is important to check all the control locations in the field, as the map may be out of date. Are all the control locations appropriate? Are they properly represented on the map? Are there new construction sites, fences, out of bounds areas that need to be marked? Make notes on parts of the map that are out of date, provide these notes to the mapping committee (current head: Brian Ellis) -- they may be able to make changes to the map. Most likely however due to time constraints, they may not be able to make changes before your event. If you do find a part of the map is out of date, change your course to avoid the affected area and be sure to mark as out of bounds any areas that a competitor may go through that are now unsafe.
  4. You do not need to hide the control flags in the terrain. The orienteer should be able to spot the flag when they are close and should not need to search for it, like in a treasure hunt. Remember orienteering is not a game of "hide and seek"; it is a sport of navigation. If the athlete can navigate to the spot correctly and read the control descriptions properly, he/she should be able spot the flag!
  5. Some other points: Controls should be on features that are mapped. Avoid being a "jerk" (no bingo controls, dog legs/dead ends, controls in dark green, controls at top of steep hill just to force a run up/run down); Don't tempt runners to cheat (i.e., pass through olive green, jump uncrossable fences/walls, traverse out of bounds areas); Avoid a sequence of 3 or more controls on a straight line (why? because this can result in disproportionate numbers of accidentally skipped controls)

Once you have designed your course, discuss its strengths and weaknesses with an experienced orienteer (preferably an event controller; one may be assigned or you can ask for one); he/she may be able to make some suggestions.

Be sure to layout your course using course-drawing software -- in the case of WETs, design both a Beginner/Intermediate course and an Advanced course. If this is your first time, please try this roughly two weeks in advance, as you may encounter software glitches. As mentioned above in the software section, particularly if you are an owner of a Mac, you will be dismayed when you find out that Purple Pen doesn't run on a Mac; you have to use alternative software or borrow a friend's computer!

**Once you have made your course and checked the actual area, make notes on your map about any changes in the terrain. Are there new trails? Is a building under construction or newly built? Is there a new sign saying "Private Property" that might restrict a route we've previously used? After the event we'd like you to share any changes you've noticed with our mapping team (contact Hilary Anderson).

Confirm Registrar/Find a Trainer

Make sure you know who will be available to be responsible for Membership duties for your WET

Find an experienced club member (other than yourself, preferably, but not necessarily, one of our members who has completed the Community Coach Training) who will be able to provide formal Introduction to Beginners (handouts/guides are available in the membership box). A list of club members who have taken at least the first course in the New Community Coach Training program is provided as a link from the club resources page. Be sure to coordinate your schedule with the volunteer trainer. Training can begin before Starts, or at the same time as Starts.



For WETs you will need to get a supply of the club's pin flags. Try to obtain one of the many sets of pin flags at a WET a week or two ahead of yours (most typically by showing up to a WET before yours and getting them from that week's organizer). Remember to bring the pin flags back to the next WET you are attending, to pass them on to future WET organizers.

The membership box is brought to the event by our Membership person -- this has membership forms/waivers, as well as the first aid kit.


For the weekend events you will need a lot more equipment. Contact Hilary Anderson to discuss what is required.

Publishing event details

The organizer should publish basic details about the event on the GVOC website. This can be done by logging in with your user account on the GVOC website, viewing your event, and then clicking "Edit" (if "Edit" is not available contact Rachel Caulfield to add you as an organizer to that event).

In your description, include things like exact location, terrain conditions (ex: wet, slippery), and any special recommendations (ex: Bring o-shoes, headlamp, long running pants). Also, you should encourage participants to register using the website rather than contacting you directly by email. This can be done relatively early as long as you know the main details, but most importantly, the start location.

The information should also be sent to the GVOC email list, preferably no later than the weekend preceding the event.

Generic template for event page:


....write about any interesting map features or considerations, if there are training goals or a focus for this map, if anything major has changed that is not reflected on the map etc....


6:15pm Introduction to Orienteering for Beginners

6:30pm Starts

8pm Course Closure, participants must report to the Finish before leaving.


Safety Precautions

Always use good judgement and common sense. Carry a whistle at all times. Headlamps are essential to see and be seen. Take care when crossing roads and parking lots. Watch out for other runners, cyclists, and trail/sidewalk users.

(Add any safety precautions specific to your event)

Parking/Start/Finish Locations

Post-Event dining


Without volunteers, these events cannot take place. A hearty thanks to all those helping put this event on. If you would like to volunteer/help at upcoming WETs/WJRs or would like to organize a WET please let us know.

Reminder Email

A couple days before the event (usually Monday), send out an email to the mailing list, reminding members to sign up by Tuesday evening. You can also include any relevant details from the event page (parking, location, anything particular about the area that people might need to know). Check with the WET Coordinator if you have questions about emailing.

Printing of maps

You can either print the maps yourself (keep the receipt for reimbursement) using the course setting software, or e-mail the course setting file to whoever has the club printer at the time, so they can print the maps for you and bring them to the event. It's usually easiest to export your courses as .pdf files and then get them printed at Staples or a similar print shop.

Day of the event

When possible, it is best to place the pin flags for a WET the same day as the WET, as flags often go missing quickly. The website can provide you with a list of event entries, which will help you check people off and record results. On the event page, you can "export" a start list of all the members that have signed up for the races (Click "Export" then "Printable List"). Print this and bring it to the event! Keep track of all starters; make sure all people who started have reported to the Finish. You can not leave the site without verifying that all participants have reported to finish or have finished. To help you with control pickup, recruit some of the faster participants to start picking controls up! ... Have a nice post-event dinner!

After the event

1. Type in the results on the website, by clicking on "Post results". If you want, you can also upload a copy of the course map for others to see.

2. Share your map changes feedback with the mapping team lead (Hilary Anderson) so we know if the map you used needs updates!