Try an Event

Getting started in our sport is easy, inexpensive, and everyone is welcome. Any or all of the following are excellent ways to give orienteering a try:

  • Read any or all of the many great resources listed on the Orienteering Canada 'Getting Started' page.
  • Come out to any local meet and let the registrar know that you are new to the sport. A knowledgeable club member will give you some pointers to get you on your way.
  • We hold a beginner clinic each spring.  See our Introduction to Orienteering page for further details.
  • We hold a 'mini-clinic' at each Sunday morning event.  See  'Need a hand' below.
  • There is often a clinic held in conjunction with Ottawa O-Fest where you can learn and pick up pointers.
  • Register for one of our coach led sessions.

However you choose to get your introduction to the sport we hope to eventually see you at one of our events.  Our events are super friendly and inviting but even so your first event in a new sport is always a big thing so we've put together this page to help give you an idea of what to expect and how to prepare.   

1. Choosing your event

Already have an event picked out?  Great!  If not, there are lots of ways to pick an event with which to get started :

  1. Look through the list of upcoming events on our events calendar.
  2. Visit our home page - there you will find a list of all of our events in the coming weeks.
  3. Check out one of our Events Series to find events of a specific type or during a specific season.
  4. Explore our maps page to find upcoming events on a map near you.

2. Preparation

Once you've chosen your event there are a few things you need to know:

Wear hiking or running clothing suitable to the weather and footwear that can get wet. If running off trail (non-novice course), it is best to wear full leg and arm covering in the woods to protect yourself from nature's hazards.
Bring a compass and whistle if you have them, although we can sell/rent them to you if needed. Bring your water bottle.  You may want to carry it on course or just have it for when you finish.  There will be water at the finish for refills but we do not provide plastic cups.
Event details
Important event details are available on the event page. It would also be a good idea to read the information on the relevant series page as that contains lots of good information relevant to all events in the series.
Safety and commitments: 
Read this document to understand what we expect of all participants for a safe and enjoyable event for all.

It might also be a good idea to brush up on your knowledge of orienteering maps before the big day.  You can find all you need to know to get started on our maps page.  When you arrive on site you can join the mini-clinic at 10:30 to get some help with this. 

If you have a printer at hand, download and read these pages from  If you plan to run an intermediate course you will want to carry a copy.

3. Getting there

o-signThe location of the event should be clearly marked on the event page.  Once you get close to the event site (the last two or three corners on the road) you can expect to see signs with the standard orange and white orienteering flags on them pointing the way to event parking.  

4. Registration

When you get to the event site, look for registration at the Orienteering Ottawa or Information banner.  

Our registration is done on tablets.  Find (or line up for) one.  There will be someone close by to guide you through.  Payment can be made by cash, cheque, or credit card.

As a general rule, our events offer multiple courses with differing physical and technical difficulties.  Part of completing the registration involves writing in your choice of course.  The novice and intermediate course maps will be on display with registration so you can check them out to help you choose.   The advanced course maps will only be available at the start but climb and distance measures will be displayed at the start.  If you're not sure which course you want to do you can ask any of our experienced volunteers and they will help point you in the right direction. 

A few notes:

  • Whistles are mandatory: you will be sold a whistle for $2 if you don't have one.  
  • Compasses and timing chips are available for rent.  
  • We require the car license plate number of the car you arrived in - this is as a safety precaution so please note it before you approach the registration table
  • If you are running with a friend, you will need to choose a team name.  Our timing system cannot record multiple names.  

When you hand in your registration form you will be given a map, and, should you need them, a compass and timing chip.  You will then be sent to the timing official where you will need to register your timing chip in the timing system.  

5. Need a hand?

At this point you are ready go but if you are new to the sport or need a quick refresher....

We offer a free Mini Introduction to Orienteering session at our regular Sunday events. No pre-registration is needed but we ask that you complete your event registration and have your map available for the 10:30 start. Look for the signs to the meeting location or ask the ambassador for help.  The instructor will cover the event type, general procedures (SI stick, Clear and Check, finish process etc), safety information and basic map reading/navigation pointers.

When you're ready to go you can head on over to the start.  

6. At the start

clear and check boxesWhen you get to the start you need to 'clear' and 'check' your timing chip in the two timing units marked as such.  If you don't do this the system won't record a start time for you.  There are also clear and check boxes at the timing officials computer where you can do this.

Once you've done that you can start by inserting your timing chip in the 'start' box.  Please leave a minute or two of space between yourself and other competitors on the same course.  This way the event is more enjoyable for everyone.

7. Finishing

The finish control is generally marked by a large FINISH banner.  When you've finished you need to download at the same spot you registered with the timing official.  

It is critical that you check in with the timing official whether you finished the course or not.  It is also very important that you be back by the course closing time (2 pm for Sunday events).  If you are not back by then we will initiate search procedures.  

8. Post Race

Congrats on a successful orienteering event!  

Now that you've downloaded and have your personal results in hand you can stick around for some drinks and snacks, compare results and stories with others.  The friendly atmosphere between competitors is really one of the things that makes orienteering so special so we invite you to cheer on your fellow competitors as much as you can.

Then chat with others about your run. Compare notes on route choices. Clarify any points with which you had difficulty. Take a look at the results possibly posted on site but always posted on the web within a day or two. See where you did well and where you had problems. Review your map and see if there was, possibly, a better route choice.


Costs may vary but a typical meet cost for a single race event is :

Standard Meet Costs per start Adults Jrs (8-20 yrs) 2 persons running Novice course 3 or more running any courses Enfants (0-7 ans)
Annual members $10.00 $7.00 $15 $24 free
Day-members $14.00 $8.00 $22 $35 free
Additional fees
Timing chip rental (no charge for the novice course) $2.00
Compass rental $2.00 + $10 rental deposit
Whistle purchase (whistles are mandatory) $2.00