Organizing a Sanctioned National or Championship event

National events are events that have been sanctioned by Orienteering USA.

Such sanctioned events are expected to meet the highest quality standards in event and course organization. An event which has been sanctioned will provide ranking points for the competitors and, as a result, tends to draw a larger, more competitive crowd than a local event. All Orienteering USA Championship events must be sanctioned national events.

The information on this page is intended as a supplement to the Orienteering USA Rules of Competition. In the event of conflicting information, the rules take precedence.

Info for third-party event organizers

Obtaining Sanctioning for a National Event

Key documents:

I.A.1.  Functional Description
The Sanctioning Committee prepares a national orienteering calendar and evaluates sanctioning requests for those events to be put on the calendar.  It insures standards are met by assigning consultants to assist/advise the hosting club. The Sanctioning Committee Regional Representative is available to advise clubs in preparing requests.

I.A.2.  Contacting the Sanctioning Committee
As of November 2015, the chair of the Sanctioning Committee is Tom Nolan (sanctioning [at]

I.A.3.  Event and Course Consultants
Upon approval of a Sanctioning request, the chair of the Sanctioning Committee will notify the Event Consultant coordinator and Course Consultant coordinator who will then assign consultants for each event and place them in touch with the event director.

Here are some protocols concerning the sanctioning process.

  1. Requests should be submitted directly to the Sanctioning Committee chair. Alternately they may be forwarded to him/her by sending them to the Sanctioning Committee chair via the Orienteering USA Office. A Sanctioning Request form is required.  The Sanctioning Request form requires information constituting the minimum pre-planning by the club. These minimums are defined in the Rules.  The Committee is empowered to waive requirements, thus partially completed requests may be accepted. Additional information should be included if it might help.
  2. Any conversations or correspondence contacts made with the Sanctioning Committee prior to the submission of a Sanctioning Request can only be considered as assistance in preparing the request, not approval of the event prior to submission of the request. The event is considered Sanctioned when the Sanctioning Committee chairmen sends the event director a formal approval of the event. It is then placed on the Orienteering USA Calendar.
  3. The Sanctioning Committee will generally allocate requested dates on a  first-come, first-served basis and can assist in negotiating compromises.
  4. It is preferred that Sanctioning Requests be submitted 18 months prior to the event, but there is a deadline of 12 months prior to the event.  Requests received less than one year before the event date will be passed to the VP Competition for waiver of this requirement before the Sanctioning Committee will consider them.
  5. Bids for Championship events will be forwarded to the Orienteering USA Board of Directors after sanctioning is approved.  Championships are awarded by the Orienteering USA Board of Directors to sanctioned events.  The Sanctioning Request will serve as the bid for the event.  Clubs may submit additional supporting documentation but it is not required.
  6. Event dates will not be changed except at the request of the hosting club and with the concurrence of a majority vote of the Sanctioning Committee members.  Change of dates for a bid event will also require Executive Committee approval.

Information for Directors of National Events

The Event Director has the primary responsibility for managing all aspects of the event. The information below details these responsibilities. In addition, the following checklists and procedures are provided to assist the event director in meeting these responsibilities.

Key documents:


  • The Orienteering USA Executive Committee is composed of the Orienteering USA officers elected from within the Board of Directors, including the Vice-President of Competition.
  • The Sanctioning Committee sanctions events and produces a calendar of national events.  It also provides event consultants.
  • The Course Consulting Committee provides course consultation services.  It is comprised of qualified course setters and assigns course consultants to work with course setters.
  • The Vetter (see Rules, A.5.3).  The Course Vetter is appointed by the Event Director and approved by the Sanctioning Committee.  The Vetter checks all aspects of the course setting and works with the course setter to achieve the best possible courses.
  • The Course Consultant is assigned by Course Consultant Committee.  The course consultant reviews the courses and advises the Course Setter on his designs.  The consultant keeps the Event Consultant informed of progress or problems.
  • The Event Consultant is the SC Regional Representative or other person provided by the Sanctioning Committee.  The event consultant monitors, advises and assists the Event director in event planning to insure Orienteering USA Rules are followed.  He also confers with the course consultant.
  • The Event Director is designated by the organizing Club at the time of application.  The event director is responsible to the competitors, the organizing club, and Orienteering USA to insure that the event is carried out in accordance with the Orienteering USA Rules for Competition.  She/He must maintain contact with the event consultant and the personnel in the event organization and must advise the event consultant of any possible delays or problems.
  • The Event organization is formed by the Event Director to perform all duties required to hold the event.  This organization and the plans for how it is to function should be discussed with the Event Consultant
  • The Course Setter is designated by the organizing club at the time of application.  She/He is responsible for the design, setting and vetting of all courses and maintains contact with the event director, course consultant and vetter.
  • The Club Mapper is responsible for production of the map and maintains contact with the Event Director, Event Consultant, and Course Setter.


The Event Consultant is provided by the Sanctioning Committee.  Event consultants have had experience with national event organization and are familiar with Orienteering USA administration. The Event Consultant's duties are to:

  • review the pre-event planning of the host club to see that they have adopted a reasonable schedule.
  • review the entry form for the event prior to its general release.
  • assure that a club is working with its assigned Course Consultant.
  • review the club's plans for making the map and monitor its progress.
  • review the general event organization and monitor its progress.
  • review event publicity.
  • act as an advisor to the event director.
  • keep appropriate persons informed of problems and progress.

The course consultant is assigned to work with and assist the course setter in producing courses that meet Orienteering USA course-setting guidelines.  The course consultant should review the course setter's work from preliminary routes through final courses and keep the Event Consultant informed of progress or problems.  The course consultant is assigned by the Course Consulting Committee.



An accurate map, or steady progress in the production of one, is essential to obtain and retain sanctioning for your event. Whether the map is produced by the club or an outside mapper, a member of the club must be assigned as the mapping coordinator. Specific map requirements are given in the Orienteering USA Rules for Orienteering Competition. It is practically impossible to conduct a high quality event without a high quality map.  Early and constant progress on completion of your map is essential.

Registration information is very important in preparing for the event and meeting Orienteering USA requirements for sanctioned events.  An invitation must be prepared.  The invitation may contain its own registration form or use the Orienteering USA Standard entry form.
Some information an invitation should provide:

  • Event (Name, Date, Type)
  • Location and Directions to Event HQ and each day's Event Site
  • Map (Scale, Contour Interval, Date)
  • Courses, Classes
  • Fees (Event Fees for Orienteering USA/non-Orienteering USA, Late Fee, Room/Board, etc.)
  • Approved deviations from the Rules
  • Registration Timetable (Deadline and Late Registration)
  • Event Timetable (First Start, Awards Ceremony, Activities)
  • Other Information (Accommodations, Meals, Babysitting, Etc.)

Some items a registration form should request are:

  • Competitor Information (Name, Address, Phone, E.mail, Class, Course)
  • Affiliation (CLUB?, Orienteering USA?, IOF?) Orienteering USA Number
  • Accounting of Fees and Other Payments
  • Signed Waiver of Liability > see our liability waiver (updated 2013)

More information concerning these items can be found in the Orienteering USA Rules for Competition.  Your Event Consultant can help you with this. Remember to have her/him review it before distribution.


The type and number of awards is left to the discretion of the Event Director with the exception of certain championships as given in Rules for Orienteering Competition. Contact the Competition Awards Committee Chair for information and requirements on obtaining Orienteering USA Championship awards.

For the most part, how you organize your event is up to you. You should make some written plans to give to your Event Consultant and key personnel.  Written plans tend to get done as they remind everyone of their jobs and permit all to gauge their progress. Many jobs must be coordinated with each other and everyone in your organization should know who is doing what job.

An organization chart will help you and your key personnel see if there are holes in your organization. The chart with the jobs, the workers names, and phone numbers will promote communication within your organization. All communications won't have to go through the event director. The job of recruiting volunteers will be eased if you publish the chart periodically with an appeal to the membership to volunteer and fill vacancies. Remind them they can compete if enough workers are available to work in rotation.

One of the first things a club should do when planning a National Event is to look at the finances involved. A carefully prepared budget will show what expenses can be expected as well as how much revenue might be generated and can eliminate a financial crisis and hard feelings within the club later. Some expense items to consider are:

  • The Map: Aerial photos, basemap, fieldwork, drafting, printing
  • Obtaining a Use Permit for the Park
  • Facility rental or other fees
  • Publicity
  • Printing: entry forms, posters, flyers
  • Advertising in ONA and local publications
  • Awards
  • Event Equipment: control flags, backup manual punches, code cards
  • Event Supplies: Map bags, control descriptions (clue sheets), rental punch cards, event packets, water stops

Other Equipment and Supplies

  • Clocks, Results Stands, Start and Finish Chutes, Staplers, etc.
  • Orienteering USA Fees (paid IMMEDIATELY after the event)
  • Sanctioning fees, Non-Member Surcharges, Insurance Fees
  • Transportation and expenses for Controller, Radio Controls
  • Revenue items are usually:  Entry fees, Sponsorship Money, "Souvenir" and/or Refreshment Sales.

If the income/expense ratio look overwhelming, don't despair. Loans for the map and other assistance is available from Orienteering USA. Please consult your regional Sanctioning Committee member for assistance.


A.  Pre-Event
Pre-event publicity can help generate additional entries and attract local sponsorship.  The types of pre-event publicity are: Promotional flyers to distribute at local events, other national events, as well as running stores, outing clubs, public libraries, etc.

  •    Press releases to the local media (don't forget the "Calendar of Events" listings that appear in newspapers and other publications).
  •    Conducting clinics in area parks, or in an outdoors store.
  •    Articles for orienteering publications.
  •    Advertisements in Orienteering North America or other publications.

B. Post-Event
Don't let your promotional efforts end with the event itself.  Immediately send the event results and a brief write-up to the local newspapers.  Give your event award winners a generic press release they can fill in and submit to their local newspapers.  Remember to capitalize on any public interest created by pre-event promotion; try to have a series of well-publicized local events (or clinics) planned after your National Event for the curious.


There are many areas to be considered: check-in, final course checking, start, finish, results, event equipment, event facilities, search and rescue, first aid, awards, and, various other services such as accommodations, meals, babysitting, social events, etc.  Each event director will need their own unique set of plans to take into account the specifics of what their event will offer and the circumstances under which they will be operating.  Certain operations are essential to conducting the event.  Others are not directly involved with the event itself but necessary to event Orienteering USA requirements for a safe and successful event.  Following are brief descriptions of each area with references to Orienteering USA and other publications.  Sample documents are provided as aids to organizing each area.

III.C.1.  Registration at the event includes a check-in of each competitor, any late or map hike registrants, and needed changes for pre-registrants. Everyone who has pre-registered should be given:  start times, course information, area map, meal tickets, accommodation information, specific instructions covering rules or safety at the event, social events, local attraction brochures and local hospital or emergency numbers.  Refer to the Rules for Competition for more information.

III.C.2.  Courses:  Early on the day of the event, you will want to have competitors who have agreed to run the course "as is" and report any missing or misplaced controls.  They should run the courses using competition maps, clue sheets and punch cards to insure the other competitors have error-free courses.  A field supervisor in charge should be prepared to delay the start to give time for any problems to be corrected.

III.C.3.  Start: Start procedures should be planned and practiced well in advance. It is essential that the competitor understands the start procedure, be started at the correct time, and be given the proper map and control descriptions (clue sheet). Times recorded at the Start must be synchronized with the finish. Ref: Rules for Competition.

III.C.4.  Finish:  Finish procedures should be planned and practiced well in advance.  The run-in to the finish should be marked as the clue sheet says it will be.  A finish chute should be constructed so as to guide the competitor to a clearly marked finish line.  The competitors finish time should be recorded and associated with the competitor.  A system for resolving any disputes should be planned.  Collecting the competitors map and punch card should be done in a manner that doesn't interfere with following runners.  The competitor's time, map and punch card should be associated, checked and results compiled.  Results can be calculated as a separate function.  Ref: Rules for Competition.

III.C.5.  Results:  Elapsed times for the qualified competitors should be calculated or the reason for any disqualifications determined.  All competitors' results should be posted as quickly as possible at a clearly marked area and official results lists prepared for submission to Orienteering USA for rankings and for release for publication.

III.C.6.  First Aid: A qualified first aider with adequate supplies should be stationed at a well marked area near the finish.  Many event directors obtain the services of military or civilian paramedic teams.  The quickest means to convey the injured to medical treatment should be known by the first aid crew.

III.C.7.  Search and Rescue:  Have a viable Search and Rescue procedure and make sure all appropriate event personnel are familiar with it.

III.C.8.  Other Services: as determined by the Event Director.


III.D.1.  RESULTS -- The event results, in electronic format, should be sent, no later than ten days after the event, to the national publication, the Rankings Coordinator, and the chair of the Sanctioning Committee. The results should include:

  • course lengths (straight line) and optimal-route climbs
  • first and last names of all competitors
  • the Orienteering USA club abbreviation or state of non-Orienteering USA competitors
  • the country of all foreign competitors
  • each day's times separately
  • DSQ's/DNF's/OVT's on each day.  These should be distinguished from DNS's by listing "DNS" for any competitor that did not start on one of the days.
  • times are in minutes/seconds or minutes/hundredths of minutes.

A competition map for every course is to be sent to the Sanctioning Chair.

A report on the event should be submitted to the Sanctioning Chair.  The report should contain a copy of a event administration chart.  There should be feedback on Orienteering USA support, where it was of help and areas it could have helped more.  This report will be used by the Sanctioning Committee in planning support activities.

The Ranking Coordinator should be sent a list of those applying for worker credit or credit courses for rankings along with the results.

Fees are to be paid within 30 days after the event.  The requirements for paying fees are in the Rules for Competition and a form for computing them (National Event fees computation form) is provided by the Orienteering USA Office. Your National Event fees (payable to Orienteering USA) and computation form should be sent to Orienteering USA, 824 Scotia Rd, Philadelphia, PA  19128.

NOTE: Fee-waived NRE's should use the National Event fees computation form to report attendance at their events. Fees will be collected as part of the club recharter process.

Information for Course Setters of National Events

Key documents:

Course planning requirements are in the Rules for Orienteering Competition. The Rules can be found on the Orienteering USA web site and should be available to the course setter.  For course planning, your club should choose someone who has had experience competing at sanctioned national events and has had experience in planning courses at local, regional or national events.  He/she should have access to one or more books on course planning.

Courses at sanctioned national events must be reviewed by the Course Consultant assigned.  Together the course planner and course consultant must make the courses meet national course setting guidelines.  Before you begin the course planning process, read the planning schedule in this package as well as the information on course consulting and Course Design Guidelines (link above). Typically the consultant does not visit the site, so course planners should write down the reasoning behind their designs to submit with the courses.  The consultant, as an expert observer, can help spot mistakes and suggest corrections.