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GPS-O Orienteering Event

Guest JIntorcio
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Guest JIntorcio

Any orienteers here?


I've been thinking about attempting an orienteering style GPS event. This would be much more similar to Orienteering than to Geocaching - but I?d like to hear any opinions the population here would be willing to voice.


The event would be staged very similarly to a traditional ?foot-o? or on-foot orienteering event. The uniqueness would be that, instead of a map with control points marked on it, participants would be given a general map of the area and then the latitude and longitude of each control point.


Participants would then use their GPS receivers to navigate to the first control, punch their control cards, and move on to the next location. The participant who could locate all of the controls, in order, and then return to the start in the shortest time, would be the winner!





>>> John <<<

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Guest CaptHawke


How about this:Up North Orienteers (UNO) in NH has a couple of permanent orienteering courses. It would be easy to visit the Shieling Forest course in Peterborough (a pleasent 90 minute drive from N.Reading) and plot the waypoints of the 15 controls. The permanent controls are 4"x4" red and white markers attached to trees, each with an ID number and a 3 alpha character code. Then we could post the waypoints on-line so folks could pre-load them, name a date and time to gather in Peterborough and then see who can find all 15 alpha codes the quickest.


Do you know if NEOC has any permenant courses set up in the Boston area? I see you have been running with them recently.


Another John

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The difference between geocaching and orienteering is that with orienteering you have to be there at the date and time in order to practice your skills unless you talking about a permanent course. And orienteers are always in a hurry.

Geocaching is more laid back, you can take your time, check out the wild flowers, count the black flies and at the end you get a prize like opening a cracker jacks box. Everyone's a winner, when they find it. Most are easy and you can take the kids.

IMHO(Okay here where I put my foot in my mouth)I think orienteers just need something to do to justify all that running they do to keep in shape. When you go hiking in the woods, it not how fast you get there, but that you got there.

Besides being lost is just finding yourself somewhere you never been before.

Unless your really lost and you can't find your way back and you die. I mean, that would suck.


Anyway, I think the orienteers should get with the 21 century and allow GPS's at their meets. The only advantage I see is GPS help with your distance. It beat counting all your steps.

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Guest JIntorcio

ng is much more a competitive challenge - both cognitive and athletic. Balancing the ability to run quickly through the woods while not running faster than you can think is a great challenge. Bushwhacking through unfamiliar woods at a running pace while trying to keep straight where you are on a map is a tremendous mental and physical workout that I do for personal fitness and satisfaction. Frankly, I think a GPS receiver would be pretty worthless to an orienteer. Heck, if you think otherwise, go make an ?unofficial? run with your GPS along and see if you think you get anything out of it.


The GPS-O event would be some sort of hybrid orienteering event. While I think you could approach it as a laid back walk in the woods (and some novice orienteers certainly approach orienteering events this way), the goal would be an athletic competition. You?d still need to think AND run as I envision it.



>>> John <<<

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Guest CaptHawke

Someone on an orienteering forum once stated that the only use of GPS at a competitve O-meet would be as a blunt object that you could use to whack your opponents head.


As much as I like the gee-whiz high-tech coolness of GPS, when armed with a highly detailed O-map (you gotta see one of these beauties to appreciated the work that goes into them) and a magnetic compass you can fly through the woods faster and with greater confidence than a runner equiped only with GPS. The real use of GPS in orienteering is as a surveying tool for creating those great maps.


I've ordered the Shieling Forest materials from UNO. As soon as I get the map I'll go out, waypoint the orienteering controls and post the the co-ords here. Then we can see about getting some New England cachers together for some head-to-head GPS competition.

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That's another thing, those O-maps The only place you find such detail is at an O-meet. When you go into the woods with a topo map that may have not been surveyed since 1927, you like to have as much infomation available to you in making decisions on your route. You come across a trail thats not on the map, GPS become a useful asset.

I basically went to O-meet, back in the 70's, to hone up my navigational skills.

As for running a couse with a GPS. The key word is running. I not into running anymore. I gave up running when I figured out that I was in a hurry to get back to a place I would have been, if I didn't leave in the first place, home.(Cut 30 minutes off my time)

But I am for anything that helps others learn more above finding there way through the woods.

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Guest clunelaw

Greetings Geocachers:

I'm into orienteering, adventure racing and geocaching, to sum it up I love to be in the great outdoor finding my way. Orienteering is mostly about route choice, that is using the information that is on the map to find the fastest way from point A to point B and using the features as a series of rails and catches to guide yourself on the route choice. It's all about the cunning running. Additionally, on bearing (the way a gps would point you) is usually not the fastest route choice, a good O course setter sees to that. Navigation based soley on GPS does not have that route finding element as part of the competiton.

John is describing a typical adventure race format, where racers use co-ordinates to mark a topo with the control points they must pass through along the course. Maps have less detail, typically USGS quads and are as reliable as the last update. Most ARs are compass navigated but not all. ESPN X-Games was gps based on one occassion ~1995 and was kind of a disaster due to poor reception. Having to wait for your GPS to get a good read can be frustrating when time is of the essence, as it is in a race. Additionally, loss of signal or poor reception can result in the outcome of the competiton being decided by factors other than the skill and speed of the racers. I know that I navigate much faster with map and compass than GPS but relocating with a GPS is sure much easier. Another reason most competiton based upon navigation skills doesn't use GPS is because it virtually eliminates that possibility of getting lost or off course, thereby eliminating navigation skills as an element in the competiton.

The idea of a GPS based meet sounds like an interesting one to me but I'm not sure why you need the O maps or a trim O course(permanently established o course) If you give me the O map I've got a big advantage over the non-orienteering geocacher and you no longer have a GPS navigation contest. If your just going to plot a course based on the trim O course and not give racers the maps then why bother with using the trim O course. If one of your racers has trained on that trim O course then that person has a huge advantage over the rest of the field. If you use a trim O course you are setting up a race course with the potential for an unethical person to gain advantage over the honest or distant racer by obtaining the course map which you don't control and previewing it. Keeping the course secret to insure a level playing field is a must for a navigation race.

If you just want the convenience of the course marker provided by the trim o course consider the following; I toyed with an idea for an AR format that was premised upon locating existing objects with site specific information that had to be recorded by the racers to establish that they had found the place, eg at these co-ordinates you will find a tomb stone, who is buried there? Easy and neat and no control pick up required and no possibility for a participant to gain an unfair advantage.


I leave o maps and info about my o club in most of the caches I visit. If you like geocache your likely to enjoy orienteering, It doesn't have to be about competiton, plenty enjoy it for the good walk and the joy of finding your way. The Team BEAR website below has links to AR and O sites for anyone interested.





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Guest doc_ott

Originally posted by clunelaw:

ESPN X-Games was gps based on one occassion ~1995 and was kind of a disaster due to poor reception. Having to wait for your GPS to get a good read can be frustrating when time is of the essence, as it is in a race.

Any rumors about the X-games resuming this sort of competition in the near future? Anyone written them to tell them? I for one would love it if this became a more main stream sport.

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Guest treemoss2

>>>I've been thinking about attempting an orienteering style GPS event. This would be much more similar to Orienteering than to Geocaching - but I?d like to hear any opinions the population here would be willing to voice. >>>>


If you see my post this same section, you will see how I am going to do it. People will only get coordinates and a regular (non-topo) map of the park. With a GPS, a topo is not needed. Not in this terrain.

I will post a report on the event next Sunday.

I suspect this type of thing is way out of the realm of most geo-cachers on here, although I had thought I might get some replies here on the "competitive" section of the discussion board.

I have 12 people going to do it at this point.

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[This is identical to a post to another thread.]


The Chicago Area Orienteering Club just held an event which integrated geocaching and orienteering.


The geocachers downloaded the coordinates to the same 22 controls that the orienteers were looking for. Only, instead of a map with the control locations pre-marked, the geocachers just received a blank map of the park, and a list of the control descriptions (including code numbers / waypoints).


The rules for both groups was basically the same: they had 6 hours to get to as many of the locations as they could. The orienteers (as might be expected) tended to go faster and, therefore, collected a greater number of controls. None the less, the geocachers had a lot of fun figuring out the best way to get from point to point, while watching the orienteers dash through every now and then.


Snowgaine results


The terrain at the meet location was very challenging to both orienteers and geocachers. We plan to hold at least one more combination event in 2003.


The next event will likely involve loop courses, not scattered controls. So, the course will basically be a multi-cache with all of the locations specified ahead of time. The difference is that you can only log a multi-cache once; you can log a o-cache once per control that you find. Also, the controls are almost ridiculously easy to find for a geocacher: you can't miss an orange-and-white nylon bag hanging three feet of off the ground.


[This message was edited by collinsorienteer on February 16, 2003 at 09:35 PM.]

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The Southern Michigan Orienteering Club (SMOC) is holding a GPS-friendly

orienteering meet this Sunday, May 4, 2003, at the Highland Recreation



The location is on the south side of M-59, about halfway between US-23 and

I-75 (about 15 miles west of Pontiac). The meet runs from 12 noon to 3

pm, and there is a 3-hour time limit on completing your course (so arrive at

noon if you want to use the entire three hours!)


If you are not familiar with orienteering, please visit

www.williams.edu/Biology/orienteering/o~index.html for more information.

The sport basically consists of navigation, using a map and compass, to find orange and white flags, or "controls", hidden in the woods.


For the first (and possible only) time, SMOC is providing UTM and lat/long coordinates for the controls, for those who wish to try their hand at orienteering using a GPS. Four courses of varying length and difficulty will be offered (the easiest course will not be GPS-friendly). Each course will consist of 10 to 14 controls.


For more information on orienteering meets, you can check out the following SMOC web pages: www.angelfire.com/mi/SMOC/smocgenm.html for general meet information, and www.angelfire.com/mi/SMOC/first.html for information on "your first meet".


You may also contact the Meet Director, Linda Burke, at


if you have any questions or need more information.


Hope to see you there!

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Personally, I would love to see more crossover between sports. We all want pristine forests...

It really is only minimal work for an orienteering event director to take coordinates of control locations and to include them in descriptions to make the courses Geocacher friendly. The basic concept would be to have the Geocacher on the clock upon receiving the blank map and the cluesheet with coordinates.

Of course a certain number would walk, smell the bees, etc. but that is fine. They just get more for the buck. The traditional 3 hour limit would have to be explained. This is a a great venue for teaching good map usage.

Coming to Sept. ONA: Including GPS in O-Instruction. See web page[/url

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