Orienteering USA

Course Design

Good course design is more than finding some features to hang controls on. It involves looking at the legs themselves, changing up the experience, and testing different skills along the way to challenge participants as they enjoy your course. This takes significant prep time.
At the highest levels, you’ll also need an understanding of expected finish time for different skill levels of participant.

Whether you’re setting your first local course or moving up to setting national events, a methodology is useful. Basically, it goes like this:

A methodology to course design is below. Provide as much time as you wish based on the level of competition. Local courses will receive much less time and consideration than national or international courses.

  1. Become familiar with the terrain – conduct both a map and on the ground survey to identify your start and finish locations, good areas for controls, corridors for routes, and any possible map issues to fix prior to the event or avoid.
  2. Set and test initial courses – Many course designers start designing with the white course then move onto the more difficult courses. Don’t agonize over this step. Once you set initial courses, go out along with other interested people not competing to test the courses so you can identify tweaks and adjustments.
  3. Refine and finalize the courses – Update the courses based on feedback from test runners. If you are hosting a national event, consult with your Orienteering USA course consultant on your courses. If you are hosting a local event, receive feedback from a more experienced course designer if possible. Continue testing and refinement until you are satisfied.

Design Guidelines

Local Event Course Design Guidelines
OUSA Course Design Guidelines
IOF Rules Appendix 2
IOF Course Design Guidelines