Notes for Organisers

The Organiser is one of three main officials appointed by the Club or Region to stage an event. The other two are the Planner and Controller. British Orienteering Rules – Appendix C lays down the duties of these three main officials. The Organiser has the overall responsibility for the event. It is usual for them to be appointed at the same time, normally several months before the event. They must be members of British Orienteering and after 1 Jan 17 must have attended an Event Safety Workshop.
These notes are intended to describe the various aspects of Organising an orienteering event where electronic punching is used. Anyone involved in running an orienteering event is recommended to read the British Orienteering Rules & Guidelines. These are available on the British Orienteering website ( ). Whilst these concern primarily the Planner and Controller, the Organiser should read the following as background:
  • Rule 1 – General
  • Rule 1.6 / Appendix F – Environmental Good Practice
  • Rule 1.7 / Appendix E – Safety
These notes include guidance on:
  • Land Permissions
  • Other Officials and Helpers
  • Organising Timetable
  • Publicity
  • Maps
  • Car Parking
  • Road Signs
  • Registration and Data Entry
  • Start
  • Finish
  • Download
  • String Course
  • Results
  • Safety and Risk Assessment
  • Links with the Planner
The club’s policy is to devolve responsibility for area permissions to ease the burden of work on the Fixtures Secretary. The current list is:
  • Liz Potterton for NT Trust and other Brimham landowners, Guisecliff
  • David Day for Harrogate Borough Council Land (Conyngham Hall, Harlow Hill, Hell Wath),
  • Chris Dicken for Forest Enterprises (Lindley Moor), Army Land (Hollins Head, Laver Banks)
  • Tim Moon for Yorkshire Water (Angram, Beecroft, Hanging Moor, Swinsty, Timble, Dob Park)
  • Susan Birtwistle for Swinton Estates, High Moor, Ripon
From the outset the Organiser of the event will have to liaise with the Planner and the Controller, but the Controller will spend more time overseeing the efforts of the Planner than the Organiser. The Controller is responsible for confirming that the event is organised fairly and in accordance with British Orienteering rules. However, on the day of the competition the Organiser has overall responsibility and must be prepared to take responsibility for safety issues since the Controller may be unavailable. The Organiser, with the Controller, should try to ensure that the demarcation of duties between the three officials is clear. The Fixtures Secretary will supply the names and contact details of the Officials to each other.
Most of the Organiser’s work is done before or after the event. On the day, it is the Helpers Teams that do most of the work. All club members are allocated to one of the following Helper Teams, and each team has a Team Leader. Current team leaders are:
  • Car Parking – Susan Birtwistle
  • Registration – Jackie Barnes
  • Start – Mike Cope
  • Finish – Stan Appleton
  • SI – Tim Moon

The Organiser must prompt the Team Leaders into action a few weeks before the event and ensure that each team is adequately manned. Each Team Leader is responsible for providing all necessary equipment for their team and for recruiting helpers from their squad for each event. As the needs of each event and helper availability vary, it is likely that some helpers will be needed on a different team. It is the Organiser’s responsibility to facilitate this between Team Leaders. Should one of the Team Leaders be Organising, Planning or Controlling the event, it is the Organiser’s job to ensure that Team is strengthened.

The Organiser is there to coordinate and ensure everything is going smoothly and should not be an active member of a team on the day.

The following table gives some idea of the time-scale of organising a Level C colour-coded event, and when certain jobs should be done by the Organiser. Note that for bigger events such as Regional and National events many of these tasks should be done earlier.
Three months in advance
  • Liaise with Area Permissions Officer to confirm permission to use land. You may also have to contact the landowner. Be aware of any conditions attached to this permission.
  • Check that the Fixtures Secretary has registered the event with British Orienteering – this provides event insurance. British Orienteering will send various forms including the Event Levy form which is filled in after the event by the Treasurer, and the Risk Assessment form, to be filled in by you as Organiser in consultation with the Planner and signed off by the Controller.
  • Liaise with Planner over car park, Registration, Start and Finish locations and suitable area for the string course if there is one.
  • Decide with the Planner the event start time (usually 10.30am) and course closure time (usually 2.30pm, earlier in the winter). Agree registration times (usually 10.00am – 12.00 noon) and inform the Registration Team Lead.
  • Prepare information for the event page on the website and send it to the Publicity Officer for publication. You may also exceptionally consider having a paper flyer. If so, contact the Publicity Officer for help with designing and printing to ensure common standards. Think about how you would distribute it.
  • It is a good idea to write an article about the event for the Clarion – copy dates are usually the 16th of even numbered months.
  • Check with Fixtures Secretary, Mapping Officer and Planner about how maps are being produced and brought to the event. Guidelines for map printing, primarily for use by the Planner, are available on the website under Club > Policies.
  • Ensure First Aid arrangements are in place (see Safety).
  • Determine with Permissions Officer whether there are any indoor facilities available or if the tents will be needed for Registration and SI/Download.  If so, agree a suitable location, along with toilets, registration, any on the day traders, etc.
  • Order toilets. British Orienteering guidelines suggest for up to 150 competitors there should be 2 units, up to 250 – 3 units, and up to 500 – 5 units. Check with the Fixtures Secretary about who we are currently using.  No need for the organiser to be there for delivery – put a sign out saying “put loos here”. The Organiser or the Treasurer will get an invoice a few days after the event.
One month in advance
  • Discuss event with Team Leaders, circulating the event layout (tents, start, finish, loos, etc) and agree time of arrival of helpers.
  • Agree with Controller on method of checking for “missing competitors”.
  • Agree with Planner who it is who will tape off any dangerous features in the competition area.
  • Prepare map identifying position of any road signs for Car Parking.
  • Check with SI Team Lead the arrangements for producing final results.
  • Ensure Risk Assessment form is completed.
  • Inform any local residents who may be affected
  • Determine if any car parking site-work needs to be done and if so, organise manpower.
1 week before
  • Check with other officials that everything is ready.
  • Check location of nearest telephone, or have a mobile available – check coverage (record in Risk Assessment).
  • Determine whether other officials will have mobile phones available and make list of numbers.
  • Know location of nearest hospital and police telephone numbers.
  • Confirm that Registration Team has details from the Planner for the Course Information Board.
  • Arrange collection of equipment required from Equipment Officer and volunteers to set up if needed.
Day of event
  • Put up direction signs to the event.
  • Ensure that Registration are recording the names of EVERYONE who is going out on the course.
  • Check that Team Leaders will record names of, and give helper vouchers to, all helpers (including any non-running helpers so that their names can be recorded for insurance purposes).
  • Co-ordinate activities of helper teams.
  • Check all areas for which you are responsible.
  • Have copies of all course maps available for use in emergency e.g. search.
  • Liaise with the Permissions Officer about any arrangements in place for the paying-over of the Car Parking fees.
  • Ensure there are copies of the British Orienteering incident report form(s) and complete one if appropriate.
Towards the end of the event
  • Check with SI Team that all competitors are accounted for, in co-ordination with Planner/Controller.
  • Ensure String Course (if there is one) results go to SI Team.
  • Check controls have been collected (Planner should arrange this) and that Planner and control collectors have all safely returned.
  • Organise removal of signs and equipment.
  • Clear site, remove litter.
After the event:
  • Ensure loos are collected.
  • Any bills for loos/St John’s Ambulance/etc and the British Orienteering levy are paid directly by the Treasurer. Any Organising expenses such as travelling, etc will be reimbursed.
  • Email or send letters of thanks if not being done by Permissions Officer, with bottle of whisky or similar to landowners.
  • Check that the Fixtures Secretary will send letter of thanks to Controller, with a CLARO Helper Voucher for a future event.
  • Thank Team Leaders, who should in turn thank their helpers.
  • Write Organiser’s report for Results and e-mail to Publicity Officer for the website, preferably on the evening of the event.
  • Ensure Planner and Controller have written their comments and sent them to the Publicity Officer.
  • Update the Organiser’s File with the details of the event and any new information and return to the Club Fixtures Secretary. Do these exist?
A Risk Assessment form must be to be filled in by the Organiser in consultation with the Planner and signed off by the Controller. Some landowners may require a copy to be provided to them as a condition of access. The Organiser should keep a copy.  The Organiser should know the following:
  • nearest available casualty hospital.
  • nearest working telephone if mobile reception inadequate.
  • how to gain vehicular access to remote parts of the land, with a key to open any locked gates.
The car park must be assessed to see: –
  • If it is big enough for the expected entry.
  • Whether there is an overflow area for use if more cars than expected turn up.
  • What the car park be like in wet weather. Is there an alternative to fall back on if the original is unusable? Materials should be on hand to deal with mud at the exit. Will it be better to separate cars from mini-buses? Is there a need for special arrangements for coaches?
  • If it can be approached safely from only one direction. Travel directions and sign posting will have to be arranged to ensure correct arrival and departure.
  • If there is only one entrance and exit, which will need to be controlled by a marshal. Is police help needed if this entrance is from a main road?
  • Whether competitors will have to use the same gates as the cars: avoid mixing people and cars.
  • What services will be sited in the car park.

The Team Leader should know the name of the landowner(s) and of any conditions imposed by them, or the police, on the use of the area for parking. The Team Leader and helpers should know where the Toilets, Start and Finish etc. are located. They should be prepared for very early arrivals and “nose-to-tail” situations. Planning how best to park the cars before the rush is essential!

The Car Parking team should hand out the Entry Forms provided by the SI Team and any On the Day information sheets produced by the Organiser.  Volunteers will be needed if there are any one-off requirements such as enlarging gateways, re-building walls or improving muddy ground.
It is the Organiser’s job to ensure that there are adequate directions to the event. On the day, people start arriving surprisingly early. Have the directions and other signage out in good time. The O signs should start from the place advertised, or before if there could be confusion. It is best to sign from a major road if possible and at all turnings from there to the car park. Confirmatory signs can be used if there are long periods between turns. Whilst good directions are not noticed by competitors, poor directions can generate considerable complaint. Make it clear from all possible approaches. Cable tie signs, never nail them. If the event is on National Trust land do not tie to NT signs.  Signs, cable ties, string and scissors are available from the Equipment Officer.
The Organiser should ensure that the route to the Start and the route from the Finish control back to Download/Car Park are taped. These are tasks for the Start and Finish Team respectively. There could also be the need to have signs to the toilets/String Course/etc,
White and possibly Yellow course maps may be handed out at Registration.  The Organised should tell Team Leaders and helpers where the Toilets, Start and Finish etc. are located. The Organiser has no need to be involved unless there are problems.
The route to the Start should be marked by either streamers or signs. The Planner will position the Start Kite, provide the Start Team with the course maps and advise on the layout.  A map layout should be available on the start line. The SI Team will provide the Start Team with Clear, Check and Start SI boxes (2 of each). The Team Leader and helpers should be told where the Toilets and Finish are. The Organiser has no need to be involved unless there are problems.
The Planner puts out the Finish kites and SI boxes. The Finish Team is responsible for putting up the Finish banner, taping the route from the last control to the Finish (if required), and the route from the Finish back to the car park, manning the Finish until courses close, organising the drinks and making the First Aid kit available. The Team Leader and helpers should be told where the Toilets and Start are. The Organiser has no need to be involved unless there are problems.
All competitors download their times and are handed their splits.   The Organiser has no need to be involved unless there are problems.
A string course can be provided. Ideally it should be close to the Car Park, and in easily walkable terrain. The area should be chosen in consultation with the Planner. No charge is made and second runs are encouraged.
These are produced by the SI team Leader. Preliminary Results should be on the website as soon as the queries have been resolved on the evening of the event, with the Final Results, including Officials comments etc as soon as possible afterwards, and preferably within a day.
Dangerous features should be taped off with yellow and black tape. This is the responsibility of the Planner in the competition area and the Organiser elsewhere. Where roads are crossed the Organiser,
informed by the Planner, should put out warning signs for motorists and if required provide marshals to advise the competitors who are crossing.  The British Orienteering Rules require full body cover, but exceptions can be made. If shorts are to be allowed a notice should be put up. On the other hand, extreme weather conditions and/or exposed terrain may require hooded, waterproof jackets to be worn or carried, and advance notice of this possibility should be given. The Club operates a policy of “No whistle, no go”. In any case checks for correct clothing and whistles should be made before the start. If the start is some distance away a clothing dump should be considered.
The Organiser needs to have a plan to deal with missing competitors. Although people take part at their own risk, checks must be made to ensure no one is left in the forest. At events using electronic punching, the SI team can produce a list of competitors who have not reported to the finish. This is not foolproof – it depends on everyone who starts being entered at Registration and reporting to the Finish/Download.
Beyond the  SI checks, the main safety check is to use the “buddy system”, with people being reported missing by their travelling companions and people on their own invited to leave car keys etc. at Registration to ensure they report back.  If it seems likely that someone is left in the forest, enquiries must be made to get as much information about the person as possible with a view to mounting a search. Be prepared for this (with adequate warm and waterproof clothing, torches and food especially in winter) and ensure sufficient help is available.
A comprehensive First Aid kit is held with the Finish equipment and will be located at Download.
In the event of a competitor needing to be rescued from the competition area then an ambulance should be called. It is expected that the ambulance team would stretcher the injured person off the area and we would provide assistance in terms of access. Officials at the Start, Finish and registration/download need to be aware of this procedure.
The Permissions Officer, the Planner and the Organiser all need to keep in touch with each other and with the Landowner(s) to check on changes which might affect the event, e.g. felling, new tracks, new
planting, clash with other activities or other restrictions on use of (parts of) the area. If the event is on privately owned land the Permissions Officer/Planner/Organiser should liaise and discuss pre-event access for mapping/planning etc. with the Land owner and pass the information as appropriate to Team Leaders.
It is the responsibility of the Organiser to liaise with the Planner regarding access to the land for ambulances e.g. provision of keys for gates, suitable roads for vehicles to use.  The Planner provides details of the courses and terrain for the advance publicity, and the maps, plus control description sheets on the day of the event. The Planner is responsible for the collection and return of the Planner’s equipment to the Equipment Officer.
If the courses cross roads the Planner or Controller may ask for road-crossing marshals. Helpers may also have to be recruited for manned controls, or drinks points on long courses in hot weather. The Organiser should check with Team Leaders for extra volunteers for these duties.
The Planner should also advise on a suitable area for the String Course if appropriate, and inform the String Course Team Leader.