Courses and Formats

Most orienteering courses are organized around a ‘classic’ orienteering format. This requires the orienteer to visit all controls in order. All controls must be visited and none can be skipped in order to finish successfully. The object of this type of orienteering format is to find all controls within the fastest time possible.

Check here for the rules guiding the sport of orienteering.

Orienteering events are typically organized into several types – Canada Cup Events, Provincial and Local events depending on the intended calibre of competition and level of organization offered. Please see below for a description of different orienteering formats and events.

Beyond ‘classic’ orienteering, there are several other orienteering formats to create different levels of challenges. The most common of these are

  • Score O – An orienteering event where participants are given a time limit (usually one hour) to collect as many controls in any order. This events makes for some interesting route choices. Orienteers must find as many controls as possible without exceeding the given time-limit or penalty points will be awarded.
  • Sprint O – A very fast-paced orienteering event usually organized in an urban area or non-technical terrain such as a park or university campus. Controls are relatively easy, with good route choice and running speed being the deciding factor in achieving the fasted time.
  • Canoe O – Usually set up as a score O, except participants use canoes or kayaks to collect controls only reachable by water or to access points requiring the orienteer to travel a short distance on land to the control.
  • Night O – Orienteering in the darkness with the aid of a headlamp.
  • Goat O – This is a unique event set up using a classic event format, however, orienteers start with a mass start and are encouraged to ‘follow’ each other. The trick is that orienteers are permitted to skip a control of their choice. This format makes for a fast hectic start, and some interesting discussions at the finish as to which control was the best to skip.
  • Memory O – Orienteers carry no map, but are required to memorize their route to the next control by looking at a map segment located at each control flag.
  • Rogaine – This is a form of extreme endurance orienteering with events typically lasting 6, 12 or 24 hrs. The event structure is similar to a score-O in that controls (50 or more) can be collected in any order, but the event covers a wide area and requires strategy and stamina in order to collect as many points as possible.
  • Street O – An orienteering course set up in an urban environment using city streets, and parks. Great event for when the weather makes it more difficult to venture into more wilderness areas.
  • Armchair O – This is not an actual orienteering event, but an indoor training session where map interpretation, orienteering strategy and route choice are discussed using maps from past events. These gatherings are usually fun social activities designed to help improve the ‘mental’ aspects of orienteering.

Types of Events

Canada Cup Events (Formerly known as A-Meets)

  • A Canada Cup Event is an established competition style event, where participants compete in many different course levels based on age and gender categories.
  • Examples of Canada Cup events include the BC Orienteering Championships and the Western Canadian Orienteering Championships.


  • A B-Meet is a local event featuring usually 3-4 different levels of courses.
  • A typical event usually includes four courses ranging from C-1(Novice), C-2 (Intermediate), C-3 (Advanced – Short Course) and C-4 (Advanced – Long Course).
  • Beginners are welcome at B-Level events and can participate in C-1 or C-2 courses based on experience.
  • Members of other clubs, who are looking for a new terrain to orienteer, are also welcome on the advanced courses.


  • A C-Meet is a local event that usually only has two courses. A typical C-Meets consists of a novice course and one other more advanced course.
  • The nature of these events is more informal with the aim being recreational, training and practice.


  • X-Meets are special events, with usually only one course available.
  • These are special meets that can include different orienteering formats such as Night-O, Canoe-O and Score-O as described above.