Organisers Manual

Last updated: Mon 5 Sep 2022

This manual is written to help those who are new to organising events and to provide a reference to those who have already organised some events.

IntroductionOther PagesForms and DocumentsResponsibilitiesWell in advance
One month before
On the dayAfter the event


This manual is written to help those who are new to organising events and to provide a reference to those who have already organised some events. Read it through now and ask for help if you are unsure about anything. You are not alone. There are plenty of people to give you assistance.

In addition to this page of guidance notes, the links below provide further pages of notices, checklists and forms. You will not require all as some are alternatives but you will require most. Read them on screen and print those you need - they will answer most of your questions and provide you with most of the documentation that you need.

From the time that you accept appointment as Organiser keep copies of all the communications you send and receive relating to the event. It is easy for busy people to forget what has been agreed and Organisers often do.

Since a local event is the normal place to begin, that is what is mainly covered in this manual. It assumes that SI equipment is being used. See Differences for pin-punching events if SI equipment is not to be used.

At an early stage in the process speak to the Planner, Controller and Publicity Officer to make sure you are not duplicating efforts. The British Orienteering Rules and Guidelines available on the British Orienteering website are useful background reading to help you understand your role in the process.

A significant proportion of your competitors are likely to be children. The Club is committed to providing a safe environment for these and other vulnerable people. See the British Orienteering Safeguarding Policy (O-Safe) and our Codes of Conduct.

Other pages

Event FlyerHelpersEquipmentPin Punching
British Orienteering Rules & GuidelinesBritish Orienteering FormsO-Safe

Forms and Documents

Risk AssessmentFees NoticesRegistration SlipsGroup Registration FormDibber Register EAOADibber Register SOS
EAL NoticeESSOL NoticeStart TimesExpensesIncome and ExpensePin Punching RegistrationFeedback form
Group Leaders' BriefMedical Form


There are normally three main people involved in putting on an orienteering event: the Organiser, Planner and Controller but other officers of the Club also help in a number of ways. The Planner's main job is to plan the courses, put out the controls and arrange for their collection after the event. The Controller should be drawn from another club and their responsibility is to ensure that British Orienteering standards are met in both the planning of the courses and the overall organisation of the event.

As Organiser, you have ultimate responsibility to ensure that we follow good practice in safety and safeguarding.

Land AccessFixtures SecretaryOrganiser and Planner should choose and arrange a suitable car park and ensure local land managers are happy with arrangements. Treasurer will normally pay access fees. Some landowners prefer a pre-car charge per vehicle to be collected on arrival, with the proceeds going to themselves or their chosen charity.
SafetyOrganiserThe Organiser, advised by the Planner, must complete a Risk Assessment even if one is not required by the Owners - see Risk Assessment Notes. note that to satisfy insurance requirements, the risk assessment must be signed by a qualified orienteer - at present a Controller or Coach. Use the BO form, possibly modifying the columns like this. Send a copy of the completed and signed form to the Webmaster, so that it can be made available to competitors and archived. Note that the RA should include the location of the nearest Public Access Defibrillator (use this link and this one and local knowledge).
MappingMap OfficerIncludes supply of maps for event and registration of map with British Orienteering. A generous supply of maps for all courses should be printed, the decision on the number required being taken by those best able to estimate the requirement. Planner and Controller may update the map as courses are prepared.
Registration of event with British OrienteeringFixtures SecretaryNecessary for even small, informal events to ensure insurance cover. The Fixtures Secretary must be told precisely where the car park is to be to ensure that the correct information appears on the British Orienteering and EAOA fixture lists.
FacilitiesOrganiserThis covers arrangements for toilets, car parking, First Aid, access to hospital, emergency phones.
Planning coursesPlanner with reference to the ControllerThis includes decisions as to what courses should be offered and the positioning of the Start(s) and Finish. Decides if and where control description sheets are to be issued. Provides master maps and map corrections when required.
String CourseOrganiserIt is club policy to offer a String Course whenever possible. This should be delegated.
PublicityPublicity OfficerShould liaise with the Organiser and Planner to agree details. Produces flyers and organises distribution at appropriate events in EA and adjoining regions.
British Orienteering FormsOrganiserMost forms originally sent to Fixtures Secretary. ER2 contains Insurance details and ER3s should be completed after the event and promptly passed to the Treasurer. Risk Assessment and Incident Report Forms can be downloaded from British Orienteering site as appropriate.
Getting kites and SI equipment if used and returningOrganiser/Planner (whichever is most convenient)But Organiser needs to ensure there is a source of power for the computers and printer that come with SI kit (generator or mains electricity).
Setting up SI boxesPlannerShould liaise with the team leader who will be running the SI on the day
Gathering all other equipmentOrganiserSee equipment list. Kit also has to be returned to Equipment Officer in good order.
First Aid and Emergency ProceduresOrganiserCheck location of nearest A & E department, ensure a qualified club member will be available or St John's/Red Cross for regional events. Be familiar with the SOS Emergency Procedures. The BOF First Aid Advice is here. Make sure First Aiders have a supply of the Medical Form and envelopes.
The Volunteer Co-ordinator has a list of members with first aid qualifications.
Putting up road signsOrganiserCan be delegated.
Gathering teams of volunteersOrganiserTeams required for Car Parking, Registration, Help point, Start and to run SI computers or Finish. A list of club members can be obtained from Membership Secretary.
Calculating and Publishing ResultsOrganiserEnsure results and Organiser's Report get to the Webmaster.
Issue hard copy results with reports within a week of event. (Open the results web page. Copy the bits you want and paste into a new document. If this doesn't work, ask the webmaster.)
Paying EAOA and British Orienteering feesTreasurerOrganiser to ensure a copy of the SI file or entry details are sent to Treasurer so that he knows how much to pay.
Drawing up accounts for the eventOrganiserSubmit expenses claim to the Treasurer for re-imbursement.

Things to do well in advance (Up to six months)

Ensure land access agreements are in place and complete Risk Assessment - see British Orienteering website for the British Orienteering Risk Assessment Form, or the Forestry Commission form. John Collyer will help you complete the form - read his notes. Develop your plan for identifying and finding missing competitors. Encourage those travelling alone to leave their car keys at the Help Point.

Agree with land manager details of unlocking gates, etc, where car parking will be and any other details such as access to electricity and water supplies, etc. Also agree if any fee is to be charged for car parking - If the charge is £1 for cars, it should be £3 for minibuses and £5 for coaches. See the Venues page for notes from previous organisers about your area. Inform Fixtures Secretary of the location of the car park and any car parking fee so that he can complete British Orienteering registration.

Decide the road, prominent junction or roundabout from which the event is to be signed so that this information can be included in the advance publicity.

Publicity - Liaise with Publicity Officer and complete the event template on the SOS web site. Although the Publicity Officer will deal with the media and circulate posters to libraries and other regular display points this can be supplemented by approaching local shops and putting posters up at the event location.

Consider toilet facilities available and hire portable toilets if required.

Ensure qualified club first aiders are available. For Regional events consider booking St John's or Red Cross.

Inform local police of the event if a lot of vehicles are expected or they will be turning across a busy road. Inform other services as required by the landowner - the Fixtures Secretary will inform the organiser of any requirements or provide a copy of the contract in which they are set out. Normally such contacts can be low key.

One month before the event

Confirm with Planner and Controller the position of Start and Finish and whether there are any special requirements, such as manned road crossings, gate watchers, areas to be taped off for safety, etc. Check whether over-printed maps or master map system is to be used.

Send completed web flyer template to Webmaster and Publicity Officer.

Agree map numbers for printing.

Agree who will collect SI equipment and when. It may be in use the previous weekend. The Planner will need it at least one day before the event to program the controls.

Arrange the generator or other power source for SI kit.

Work out how many helpers will be required to do all the jobs and set about recruiting them - see Recruiting helpers and a guide to their roles.

One week before the event

Circulate the list of team leaders and helpers so that they all know what they will be doing on which shift and with whom. Try to have a few spare people in case of emergency and don't give yourself a job.

Collect equipment from the Equipment Officer - see Check List. Check supplies of squash, plastic cups and toilet paper and purchase more if needed. Also check if the contents of the First Aid kit are in date and replace as necessary. If used, make sure that you (or you delegate) knows how to use the batteries, that they work, and are fully charged.

Make sure that you have a copy of the British Orienteering Registration Form ER2, British Orienteering or other Risk Assessment Form and British Orienteering Incident Report Form so that they are to hand on the day.

Obtain membership forms, fixtures list and other publicity material for the Help Point.

Make a list of useful mobile phone numbers - Planner, Controller, etc. - and ensure that reception is OK in the Parking and Start areas. The Help Point should have a mobile phone for use in an emergency. It is also useful to have a phone at the Start, especially if it is a long walk from Assembly. The club has four radios. These will probably be allocated to Planner, Controller, Organiser, and Start. Instructions for their preparation and use are here.

Prepare final details for distribution to the competitors, signs for Registration showing course lengths and notifying competitors at ESSOL and EAL events which courses are appropriate for each age range, etc. Also any instructions for team leaders.

Obtain a small float (eg for parking, 20 x £1, for entries 20 x £1, 20 x 50p, total £50).

The day before

Sort equipment and load the car.

Get to bed early.

On the day

Event signs

The first task is to ensure that road signs to the event are in place - signing should be in place early, so helpers can find the event. Clear signing in accordance with the advance information is essential.

Guidelines for road signs
Where possible use 3 signs for each turning: the first signalling 'left turn in 100m'; the second 'left turn here'; the third 'continue on this road (ie you've made the correct turn). These messages can be conveyed by simple orienteering arrow signs.
Once a driver is following a signed route there should be a sign at any junction in the road where a route choice exists to remove uncertainty.
Sign the event entry from all directions, to catch those who have used SatNav rather than the approach signs.
At the exit from the event place a sign to help people back to the major road system (eg 'To the A12').

Also ensure that the car parking team have a clear plan. Ensure signs to Registration, Start, Toilets etc are in place as necessary.

Registration and Help Point

If registration is in a tent, bulldog clips and boxes will be needed to prevent papers being blown away.

Ensure that helpers have a supply of the same number of control description sheets as there are premarked maps.

Ensure that all helpers know:

Allocate someone to collect registration slips and frequently deliver them to the SI team.

Issue the Group Leaders' Brief, beginner leaflets, membership forms, fixture list and other publicity material to the helper manning the Help Point.

Have a dummy control on display near the Help Point.

Place box with results envelopes in a prominent place with a clear sign. There is no charge. Also display the website address and that results will be posted as soon as possible.

The Start

The planner usually puts up the control kite to mark the Start and positions the start SI boxes.

Agree location of the boxes of maps and number of start boxes (ie minus 1,2 or 3 minutes).

Mark the route from Registration to the Start with tape if required.

Leave the Start team to lay out the start boxes and to put start clock in position. The start clock should be synchronised with the SI system. Ensure the team knows if it is a timed or a punching start.

Planner should supply you with Clear and Check boxes. Clear boxes should be mounted close to start and a start team member should be responsible for ensuring all competitors punch the Check box.

Ensure that start team know that the minimum interval between runners on the same course is one minute.

Maps printed on waterproof paper tend to stick together. To prevent competitors inadvertently taking several maps, a start official should take one map from each box and place it to protrude from under the box, ready for the competitor to snatch it up

For EAL or ESSOL events
At these events competitors from same club / school must be 4 minutes apart on each course. It may be preferred to tape out and label separate start lanes for each course. Notices should be displayed and you may wish to supply an additional member of the start team with a clipboard and the Start control form on which to record the clubs of competitors as they enter the rear start box. The large number of competitors from Barnardiston School on White and Yellow courses at ESSOL events may require the 4 minute rule to be relaxed to 2 minutes.

The Finish & Drinks

Confirm the location of the Finish. Leave a helper to set up banner. The Planner will position the SI boxes.

Set up the small table with water containers, squash, cups and bin bags. This can be near the Finish, the Download area or on the route between.

Mark route to Download if needed. Put up a sign reminding people that they MUST download.

SI team

As long as there is an experienced helper present, leave the team alone to get set up. It is usually a bit fraught until it all works (which is rarely first time). Your interference is unlikely to be helpful unless you are certain you know more than they do and they are really stuck. Your energies are best directed at making sure that everything else is set up on time. The Results Team will also appreciate protection from casual enquires until they catch up with their data entry.

Ensure that Registration slips get from Registration to the SI team promptly once Registration is open so that people are entered onto the system before they run (especially important with the shorter courses). Make sure that the SI team enter "+1" where the competitor is being shadowed so that they won't be allocated ESSOL points.

The SI team are responsible for the collection of any hired dibbers as they are downloaded.


Printouts of results should be displayed and updated as regularly as possible. However, use tact and diplomacy in prompting SI team for these.


It is essential that you look after the landowner or their representative if they are at the venue.

There are sure to be some unexpected queries - it is useful to have an emergency kit containing spare sheets of paper, thick black felt tips, polythene sleeves and tape and string for making extra signs. Most problems simply need a bit of common sense.

After the event

Make sure that all runners are accounted for. Read beforehand and have handy the Missing Competitor Guideleines.

Thank all your helpers profusely.

Ensure that all the hired SI dibbers have been returned, sort them and return with the rest of the SI kit.

Collect all the other equipment (including the road signs), sort and return to the Equipment Officer in good (ie clean and dry) condition within a week of the event with details of any items that did not function or need replacing.

Make sure that all the area is left clear and litter free - footprints should be the only sign that an event has taken place. Ask the control collectors to remove the planner's marking tapes as they collect the controls. Ensure that any doors or gates that should be closed are closed and return keys as appropriate.

Retain event records (including Registration Slips) for five years for insurance purposes.


Ensure that a copy of the results (electronic if SI kit is being used) is given to the Webmaster and another to the Treasurer. A set of provisional results should be supplied to the Webmaster as early as possible. The SI team will supply a copy of the whole event. If you do not have the SI software on your computer make sure they supply it in a format that you can use or let them give it to the Webmaster and download it after it has been posted. Also let the planner and controller have a printed copy of the provisional results.

Disqualifications should be discussed with the Controller but the final decision is with the Organiser .

Send the Webmaster the names of any helpers who didn't run, and the names and addresses of the IND competitors. He will store these permanently on the club website. Also provide the Volunteer Co-ordinator with a full list of helpers, so we have evidence to support grant applications.

Par times should be checked with the Controller and then sent to the Webmaster. The guidelines for these are:

You should aim to send out the final results one week after the event both in paper form and to the Webmaster. Final results should include:


Take the cash that has been collected and pass it to the Treasurer immediately, having recovered the initial float, or count it later and send a cheque to the Treasurer within a fortnight.

Major expenses (such as hire of portable toilets) should be referred to the Treasurer for paying directly but smaller, incidental expenses (such as phone calls or first aid items) can be reclaimed from the Treasurer on presentation of a claim form.

If preferred, the expenses can be deducted from the income before it is sent to the Treasurer but, in this case, it is essential that a detailed list of moneys collected and expenses claimed accompanies the remittance.

Note that the treasurer needs to report the numbers attending to the Forestry Commission (if appropriate) within 14 days of the event, so you need to provide the completed ER3 form, the SI files, and your accounts promptly so that the returns can be sent off within the time limit.

If the Controller is from outside the club, ensure that they know from whom to claim expenses.


One last thing - please complete the Feedback Form so this manual can be updated and others can learn from your experiences.