Course planning and organisation for street orienteering events is relatively easy, especially if doing so for a suburb close to home. All regular participants are encouraged to volunteer periodically (unless you are already heavily involved in organising other orienteering events). The first step is to advise John Harding () by email of your preferred date and suburb map. Unless you have orienteering course planning software, you will be emailed a PDF copy of the map and a copy of these instructions.
A. Assembly Area
You then need to work out where to have the assembly area. A place where cars can be parked for 100 people; small shopping centre car parks should be avoided where possible as we do not want complaints from shoppers to the ACT government. Ideally the location should have a toilet and somewhere to provide shelter if it rains (however, John Harding has a backup marquee if it does rain). Determining the assembly area should be done at least 3 or 4 weeks in advance so that the information can be put on the Orienteering ACT (OACT) website and included in the OACT and Street O enews. This information should be emailed to both John Harding () and the Orienteering ACT office () with a precise street address location or preferably GPS co-ordinates (latitude & longitude).
There are 20 controls. Each comprises 2 numbered red and white control plates with punches attached. Each has a chain and a lock which should be kept attached to the control plates at all times to make it as easy as possible to put out and collect, and to minimise the risk of losing the locks. There are 2 sets of 20 controls kept in plastic tubs with lanyards attached to keys which open all 20 locks.
The courses for a standard 1 hour event are:
- Course A Plus – All 20 controls
- Course A – 18 controls
- Course B – 15 controls
- Course C – 12 controls
- Course D – 8 controls
- Walk – 1 hour
Competitors may participate as individuals or as groups of 2 to 5. All members of a group must be given a map. First timers must be given their maps and a briefing as soon as they arrive for registration and advised on which course to do, depending on whether walking or running, level of fitness, level of experience etc. Non-first timers are issued maps at 6.10pm when the briefing is done before the mass start at 6.15pm.
C. Course planning for daylight events
1. It is important to have 8 controls reasonably close to the assembly area to allow beginners walking, elderly and less able participants to finish the D course within 1 hour. The oldest regular competitors are 92 years old and 88 years old!! Then the other 12 controls can be spread throughout the map. Of these, some should be near the extremities of the map to ensure that A and B course competitors have a long enough course. However, do not place 1 or 2 controls on their own on the extremities as A and B competitors will automatically make these the ones which they will leave out in planning the 2 or 5 controls to miss. To avoid this, place clusters of 3 controls on the extremities.
2. You can work out at home roughly where you might put your controls. I draw a circle in pencil where I think I might put a control and then number the circles from 1 to 20. You then need to drive or bike or walk around each of these points to firm up exactly where to put the control and what the control description will be (light pole, seat, gate, fence end etc). Place a red dot on your planning map in the precise location and circle and number it. You may need to select a new control feature one or two streets away if there is no suitable control site where you have pencilled in a circle.
Examples of unsuitable control sites:
- light pole in a garden bed
- light pole on a front lawn well back from the street
- light pole at a building site
- light pole outside a dwelling where it looks like the control might be vandalised
- any feature inside a private housing estate (we do not have access to these)
- playground equipment where the control might be trodden on – it is better to use a seat at the playground instead and chain the control to the back of the seat.
Try to include interesting control sites, for example
- places with a good view
- a sign at the edge of a lake/pond
- an interesting playground
- a fence corner at a tennis court or cricket nets
- a sign at a monument or sculpture
- a light pole or other feature where there is a navigational challenge through laneways
- a feature on/near a bush track in a nature reserve on the fringe of the map.
Black and white map restrictions:
- avoid putting controls close to buildings so that the black control circle overlaps the black building and makes it very hard to read
- do not put controls right on the edge of the map as the control may be truncated when printing; and the participant may go off the map and get lost.
3. If using a seat as a control in a park where there are 2 or 3 seats at a playground, please identify which seat by saying N or E or W seat so that competitors know which one to go to.
4. Map corrections: As you check your control sites, you may find an error on the map. For example, a missing laneway or pathway that no longer exists or a new fence up around a school or a road in a private housing estate that should not be on the map. Please draw these in and note them in your email to John Harding so they can be corrected for the final map.
Standard descriptions for all events:
- Light pole. NOT lamp post or light post.
- Power pole
- Post box
Do not have long descriptors for controls as the space available on the map for control descriptions is usually small, so it is a squeeze putting 20 descriptions on the map.
D. Course planning for night time events
Control features in winter
For safety reasons, these should all be light poles located in streets and not in laneways or parks or other places where any female or younger competitors may not feel safe in the dark.
It is important to have 8 controls reasonably close to the assembly area to allow beginners, walking, elderly and less able participants to finish the D course within 1 hour. Then the other 12 controls can be spread throughout the map. Of these, some should be near the extremities of the map to ensure that A and B course competitors have a long enough course. However, do not place 1 or 2 controls on their own on the extremities as A and B competitors will automatically make these the ones which they will leave out in planning the 2 or 5 controls to miss. To avoid this, look at clusters of 3 or 4 controls on the extremities.
You can work out at home roughly where you might put your controls but you do need to drive or bike or walk around each of these points to firm up exactly where to put the control on the day. If you have time, check the control light poles at night as sometimes the lights are not working.
Do not use light poles which
- might involve trampling someone’s garden around the base of the pole
- are not clearly on the nature strip (public land) fairly close to the road. Do not use light poles set in someone’s lawn some distance from the street gutter
- are close to buildings in shopping centres, schools etc because the control circle becomes too hard to read when it overlaps a building
- are near the edge of the map as these may be truncated in printed.
Put a red dot on each control location on your PDF copy and hand draw a red control circle around it. For daytime events, write the control descriptions in an EXCEL spreadsheet. Scan in the map with the courses and email the scanned map and EXCEL file plus your mobile phone number to John Harding () so he can put the controls and control descriptions and emergency phone number on the OCAD map. John will export the final OCAD map to a PDF copy and email it to you to double check before he prints the maps at Officeworks from a flashdrive copy of the PDF and brings them on the day or gives them to you (ideally) at a previous event. A highlighter should be used to highlight the start triangle on the printed map.
F. Putting out controls
The course planner will ideally be the person putting the controls out on the day and be responsible for collecting them afterwards or getting someone else to. This normally takes 1 hour 20 mins driving around and chaining the 20 controls to the control features but will take longer if you have some controls a significant distance from the nearest place to park from those controls or on complex street maps. For example, Amaroo and Nicholls, complex street maps in Gungaghlin, require around 2 hours to drive around to put out controls.
You should allow enough time to put out the controls and then be at the assembly area by 5.30pm to set up.
G. Previous Monday
Collect the tables, last control pole, organisation plastic tub, water container and cups, and water melon trays from the organiser at the previous Monday’s event, and pick up a set of controls plus the printed maps.
H. One or two days before
Buy a water melon or bananas (budget $10 to $20, depending on time of year sale price) and on the day cut it/them up into small pieces and bring them to the event.
I. On the day
Two people are needed at set up and registration from 5.30pm, one to take registrations and the other to help newcomers and answer queries about where the nearest toilets are etc. The course planner should be one of these 2, who will start everyone and time them when they come back. John Harding or Geoff Wood or another regular can be the 2nd person assisting newcomers who arrive on the day. Each newcomer will be given a copy of the map, shown a spare control, advised which course or the Power Walk to do, and how to fill in the registration card. Ensure newcomers have their email addresses clearly written on the registration card stub. Ensure all entrants have their vehicle number and mobile number on the registration card as this helps considerably in identifying who is missing if not everyone returns.
In registering participants, number each stub card on the back from 1 onwards. This means you know how many cards (eg. 75) need to come back & that everyone has finished. As people finish, write down the time they arrive at the table and their finish position (from 1 onwards). When you reach the last number (eg. 75) from the stub numbering, you will know everyone is back.
The pre-start briefing and map handout needs to happen at 6.10pm. The briefing should commence with an acknowledgment of the course planner and organiser for the day.
Risk management: It is most important that the pre-start briefing warns everyone to take care on all roads and road crossings as competitors have no right of way over vehicles or bicycles or other pedestrians; that everyone must report in at the finish; that everyone should be back in an hour. Emphasise any particular hazards relevant to that map. For example:-
- busy internal roads
- out of bounds roads or areas
- compulsory crossing points (such as the footbridge over Belconnen Way on the Bruce-Aranda map)
- hazardous drainage systems which should only be crossed at bridges
- piles of leaves in road gutters and on nature strips which can be slip and trip hazards in autumn and winter
- in winter it is essential to remind participants not to allow their headlamps or torches to shine into the eyes of oncoming motorists, cyclists or pedestrians as this may cause a serious accident to occur.
Wet weather: If it is either raining or threatening to rain, all participants should put their map and control card in a plastic map cover. A box of plastic map covers is in the organiser’s plastic tub.
At 6.15pm say ‘Go’ and start 2 watches: the recording stopwatch and a backup such as a smartphone stopwatch, or personal GPS unit.
For all runners, record their time and tell the first male and female finishers on each course to draw in their route on the map for that course on the finish map table (the winning route maps will be photographed and loaded on the OACT Facebook page that night by John Harding). For all walkers, record both time and number of controls they have visited. All finish cards should also be numbered in order of finishing so you know when everyone has returned.
Geoff Wood normally takes the finish cards and types up the results and loads them on the OACT website. However, he is very happy for the organiser to do this and can supply the EXCEL spreadsheet to do so. John Harding takes the registration stubs so that newcomer email details can be added to the Street Series email list.
A float of $15 is kept in the money box. Entry fees on the day in excess of the $15 needs to be banked. Geoff Wood will collect this money if he is there.
It can be quite hot at 3.30pm when you start putting out controls, but freezing cold at 7pm as the sun sets and there is a cool breeze. So bring a warm jacket and beanie and something to eat and drink.