Getting started – your first event

Get started with orienteering in 2024

This February/March, we’ve got a great opportunity for you to try orienteering in two nearby venues.  There are two friendly-but-competitive events at the start of February and March, plus on 17th February there’s a training event at Sherrardspark Wood that’s suitable for beginners. This gives you the chance to try a real event, join a training session to get some pointers, then see how your skills have improved at Mardley Heath on 2 March.

Sign up for Sherrardspark Wood on 3 February now, or get involved with training on 17 February. If you prefer to just have a chat with someone first, please email and we’d be delighted to help.

Choosing your event

We recommend doing a Hertfordshire Orienteering Saturday event. These are friendly events run on the first Saturday of each month.

DateEventMore Info
Tue 16 Apr 24
19:00 - 20:00
Street-O Evening Score – Welwyn Village Event Details
Sun 21 Apr 24
10:00 - 12:30
Yvette Baker Heat – Hodgemoor Woods: YBT entries via Jennie Event Details
Tue 23 Apr 24
19:00 - 20:00
Street-O Evening Score – Redbourn Event Details
Tue 30 Apr 24
19:00 - 20:00
Street-O Evening Score – Harpenden South Event Details
The full list of all forthcoming events is published here..

Choose your course

All about courses
Orienteering courses vary in both their length and their technical difficulty. The lengths quoted below are a rough guide only and may differ at the event you choose to go to. Key things to know Don’t overestimate your ability. Courses may look relatively short, but the more technically difficult ones are likely to involve going across country rather than along paths. This could mean you have to go through undergrowth, cross streams and so on. Courses are measured in kilometers in a straight line from Control to Control. You will almost certainly travel further than the course length suggests, because you are unlikely to be able to go in a direct line from one Control to the next. 1km is 0.6 miles. With all that in mind, it is best to start with an easier course and move up to a harder one. Most events label their courses with colours according to a standard scheme so as to identify their navigational difficulty and approximate lengths.  These typically range from about 1·5 km for children and beginners to over 10 km for experienced adults. Within the colours below you may also see short, medium and long variants designed to offer a set level of difficulty but different distances.
  Course Length Length
  White 0.5-1.5km This is usually the shortest course on offer and is aimed at young children who are moving off the string course (see below) and into the terrain. The courses are very simple and stick to main paths.
  Yellow 1-3km These courses are slightly more technical than the white courses with controls slightly off the paths, but on easy to find line features such as streams or walls.
  Orange 3-5km The orange courses are the usual start point for adult beginners at orienteering. Here you will be presented with basic route choice options and will use simple compass skills.
  Light Green 3.5-4.5km Here the technical and physical difficulty is increased again. The courses are slightly longer than orange and utilise point (e.g. boulders) and contour features.
  Green 4-5km These courses are at the most technical level (TD5) and are aimed at those wanting a relatively short run with a technical challenge.
  Blue 5-7km The courses and those below are all still at the highest technical difficulty, but are longer and more physically challenging than green courses
  Brown 7km+ The brown courses are technically difficult and fairly long.
  Black 10km+ These are the longest courses at standard orienteering events with typically distances of over 10km
If you have any questions on which course is most suitable, then please email the following people for advice: or

Enter in advance

All our events need to be entered in advance online through a company called SIEntries. We have a handy step-by-step guide Entering for the first time to help you with this.  If you have any issues please email If it is your first time orienteering, you will need to hire a ‘dibber’ – this is a small timing chip which records your control visits so that your split times to each control point are recorded along with the total time taken. Just tick the box on the online entry form. Once you have entered for your first event, please email the club if you would like some help on the day. Tell us your name, what courses you are running and what your start time is. We can then make sure that someone is there to help you out.

What to bring

Clothing: All you need to begin with is suitable clothing. You should wear long trousers and trainers or boots as it can be brambly and very wet or muddy underfoot.  A T shirt or running top is fine. For footwear,running shoes or trail shoes are fine to begin with. Wear old clothes if possible as you may get dirty. Equipment: a compass is useful but not essential for your first event. If you enjoy it then buy one later as you become more experienced and attempt the technically more difficult courses.

On the day

Event details like parking location are posted on our website.  When you arrive you will be directed to the event centre where you will pick up your dibber. If you emailed ahead, someone in hi-viz will be there to guide you through how everything works.  You will be walked over to the start point. Please ask as many questions as you need to. Once you have finished your course you need to go back to the event centre to download your times into the results laptop. You will have to give back the dibber. The results team will be able to give you the results of your first run and all the results are posted to the website so you can have a look at how it went when you get back home. Congratulations! You have completed your first event.

What Comes Next?

Why not try a couple more of our Saturday Series events to see how you feel? If you enjoy it then why not join the club? Click here for details of the benefits of club membership and how to join? If you would like to, you can join us for training sessions to improve your skills email We also share details of other events for you to try. Look at the Fixtures page of the website.