Revised 11 October 2019

The following guidelines provide an overview of what is involved in organising and planning courses for events on the following OACT regular event series, namely:

  • ACT Metro Series (including the Junior League)
  • ACT Classic Series (usually conducted on Sundays, occasionally combined with Metro events)
  • ACT Runners Shop Twilight Series
  • ACT Midweek Series.

Other guideline documents and checklists on the website provide more detailed information in relation to each of the event series, or on specific aspects of event planning and organisation. There are separate guidelines for the ACT Street Series, the ACT MTBO (mountain bike orienteering) Series and major event carnivals.


OACT welcomes new organisers and course planners. If you are new to organising or course planning, it is advisable to get experience with events in the Metro Series, Runners Shop Twilight Series or Midweek Series before taking on Classic Series events. The former events are generally located close to Canberra, involve a limited range of relatively short courses in generally ‘friendly’ terrain, and are less demanding in their organisational requirements than Classic events. There are many experienced organisers and course planners available to mentor and assist those new to these roles, so please ask for advice if you need it.


Google Drive is an online file sharing system from Google, which can be used by the organising team for accessing OCAD maps, event approvals and event planning and management guidelines, as well as sharing PDF course files and other event planning information among the team. To access Google Drive for your event, contact the OACT Office to obtain the relevant link. The Office Manager can also upload files for you, or provide advice on how to do it yourself, if you are not already familiar with Google Drive.

You can install an application on your computer to automatically sync files, or you can use a web interface to manually download and upload files. If you are doing a lot of course planning, installing the application is recommended as it makes your life much easier as all the syncing is completely automatic.


This policy applies to all events. Please read Document 14, Safety and emergency procedures, prior to the event. This is especially relevant in more remote or rugged areas, as used for some of the Weekend Classic events. The event organiser has the discretion to require all competitors to carry a whistle for safety reasons.


(** designates primarily the function of the Course Planner)

The following steps summarise the tasks involved in organising most orienteering events held in the ACT. Further details are provided in the documents listed at the end of these guidelines.

1. Consult with Other Key Officials. At the start of event planning activities, the organiser, course planner and controller/vetter (if appointed) should consult on key points such as division of responsibilities (including appointment of an Event Safety Coordinator and identification of an emergency contact number), selection of assembly area and arrangements for land use permission. 

2. Obtain Event Planning Information. In addition to the series of event management documents and other general information on the website, there are two sets of information on specific areas which are available to assist the organiser, course planner and controller in the planning of events:

    1. Event Planning and Management Guidelines. These location-specific guidelines for each area used for OACT events are being prepared progressively. They contain information such as location of suitable assembly areas, directions to assembly areas, parking arrangements, landholder contact details, comments on map quality and reliability, safety and environmental factors to be considered in planning and conduct of events, and other conditions which are normally specified by the land owner or manager.
    2. Event Planning Kits. These are available for most areas and contain most of the above information, plus courses and results from some previous events, which may be useful in providing course planning ideas and identifying typical running speeds for the area. They are large folders which need to be collected from the OACT Office, and returned after the event.

3. Confirm Assembly Area. Once the organising team has agreed on the assembly area and at least eight weeks prior to the event, a member of the team should visit its location to check that there are no issues which may prejudice its use (e.g. new fences, temporary construction works).

4. Confirm Event Information. Once the assembly area is confirmed, advise the OACT Office of the assembly area location, contact details of the key officials, and any special features or warnings associated with the event. The Office Manager will place this information on the Coming Events page of the website.

5. Seek Land Use Permission and Conditions. The OACT Office is usually responsible for obtaining permission for most events held on public land within the ACT metropolitan area, but you should confirm this and advise the assembly area location at least eight weeks before the event. The organiser or course planner is normally responsible for obtaining permissions for use of other areas such as tertiary campuses, schools, public land outside the Canberra metropolitan area (e.g. Namadgi National Park) and all private land, and for obtaining keys if needed for access.

6. Check Approval Conditions. Formal written approvals for events on ACT public land are typically received 1 to 2 weeks before the event, but sometimes not until 1 or 2 days before the event. The OACT Office will forward them to the organiser. Make sure that all reasonable conditions which may have been placed on the use of the area are strictly observed (e.g. out-of-bounds areas, fence crossings, disturbance to stock, provision of toilets). If you have any concerns about approval conditions, discuss them with the relevant Series Co-ordinator or the OACT Office Manager. If early notice of likely approval conditions is required, check the relevant Event Planning and Management Guidelines (if available) or approvals for previous events in the same area (available through the OACT Office).

Take a copy of the approval to the event, in case there are any issues with authorities or local residents.

7. Be Aware of Risks. While a formal risk assessment is not normally prepared for regular events (unless required by the approving authority), organisers and course planners should consider the possible risks to the event that might arise, for example, as a result of extreme weather conditions. A generic Risk Assessment Framework is available for guidance if required. Specific risks associated with some areas are identified in the relevant Event Planning and Management Guidelines (if available).

8. Plan the Courses**. Confirm the number and types of courses to be set depending on the type of event. The setting of the courses is the responsibility of the course planner, subject to any over-riding conditions proposed by the event controller, e.g. for safety reasons. Courses should be of the required length and standard to satisfy OACT or OA regulations, and should comply with the conditions of event approvals and/or OACT Event Planning and Management Guidelines (if available).

Course planning can commence as soon as the assembly area is confirmed and should be completed no later than two weeks before the event (sometimes much earlier for major events). The course planning process is described in Document 2, Successful course planning, which all new course planners should read. For further information, that document lists relevant books which are available from the OACT library in the office.

The key steps involved in course planning include:

    •  obtaining the map, either electronically or in printed form;
    • planning the courses on paper and having them reviewed (if required) by a controller, vetter or mentor;
    • checking and taping control sites in the field – these sites should also be checked independently by a controller or vetter (not normally expected for Midweek events);
    • preparing maps and control description lists for printing (or master maps for competitors to copy at Midweek events);
    • placing controls in the field immediately prior to the event; and
    • collecting controls after the event (often with assistance).

9. Prepare an Event Roster. Prior to the event, the organiser or another club official needs to arrange for a suitable number of club members to be available to undertake the various tasks to ensure the smooth running of the event on the day. Help is always required for packing up and control pick-up at the end of the day, but organising for this is often neglected. The person preparing the roster may need a contact list of club members as direct personal contact is often the best way to obtain enough volunteers.

The organiser and controller should remain free to oversight the event, to deal with newcomers and any complaints, and to organise recovery of controls and any persons overdue or missing.

The OACT website has a facility for managing rosters and recording who volunteered. The roster template can be copied from the website and pasted into an email for direct communication with club members if required.

10. Obtain Event Equipment and Stores. The equipment requirements for organising and course planning vary according to the nature of the event and are set out in other guidelines and checklists. The course planner is normally responsible for obtaining control flags, stands, SI units, water containers for drink controls etc., while the organiser is responsible for most of the equipment associated with the assembly area, including direction signs to the event. If a regular computer operator is appointed, that person will usually bring the computers and timing equipment to the event, otherwise it is the organiser’s responsibility. The organiser should arrange the hire of toilets if they are required and arrange for the towing of trailer-mounted toilets to the event.

11. Organising on the Day. The organiser is responsible for the smooth running of the event on the day, with the assistance of those rostered to help. The main organising tasks include:

    • putting out direction signs and promotional banners, if needed, to guide participants to the event;
    • setting up the assembly area so that it operates smoothly and efficiently in guiding competitors through it to the course area;
    • ensuring that necessary event information about courses, registration procedures, a general risk warning, advice of any special risks or requirements, and directions to the start and toilets (if applicable) are clearly displayed;
    • taking event registrations and entry fees, handing out maps, and checking the competitors have entered appropriate courses for their age and ability;
    • setting up the Start and Finish, in consultation with the course planner; and
    • providing a results display, if required.

The specific organising requirements vary with the type of event and are detailed further in the documents listed at the end of these guidelines.

12. After the Event. The organiser needs to co-ordinate packing up the equipment and either passing it on to next organiser or returning it to the OACT storage shed at Giralang. If equipment is wet, it should be dried before it is passed on or returned to the shed.

Registration cards, event takings and unused maps are usually collected by an OACT official but, if not, they should be returned to the OACT Office. Results are usually processed by an OACT official.

13. Arrange for Control Collection**. The organisation of control collection is normally the responsibility of the course planner and controller, but the organiser is responsible for ensuring that sufficient helpers are available.

14. Check for Missing Persons. Very occasionally a competitor fails to return to the Finish by course closure time. This can be usually verified by checking the finishers recorded in the computer, or the Start/Finish sheets in the case of Midweek series. Document 14, Safety and Rescue Procedures, contains advice on searching for missing competitors. It is recommended that organisers read this document prior to the event.


The following documents on the website provide further information in relation to each of the event series: