General O rules

 Orienteering is a fun sport with a number of rules that keep competition and participation above board. On the whole, there’s not too much to remember other than the golden rule ‘Control points shall be visited in the correct sequence – no random control visits are allowed without pain of disqualification’.

We’ve outlined a number of other rules below that ensure good sportsmanship. Most of these are common sense.

At each control point you must prove that you have been there by “punching”. You will use the pin punch you will find at the control site to make a mark in the relevant space on the control card you will carry with you. Where a system of electronic punching is in use, you will insert the electronic “card” you will take with you into an electronic control point unit in order to record your presence at the control site.

  • Don’t follow other competitors (they may be more lost than you are!).
  • Don’t ask for directions (unless you are really in trouble and need to find your way back to the finish).
  • Don’t stray into areas marked ‘out of bounds’.
  • Competitors must follow marked routes when stipulated by the organisers.
  • Don’t traverse ‘uncrossable fences or cliffs’ unless crossing points are indicated. Besides being disallowed, this may be dangerous.
  • Only compass and maps are allowed to be used (no GPS!)
  • Always respect the environment – leave only footprints!

The spirit of fairness and good fellowship is the guiding principle in all aspects of the sport.

  • Unless otherwise stipulated, the map area of any advertised orienteering event (with the exception of a ‘Short Course Series event), is deemed ‘out of bounds’ from the date of its notification in the SAOF Fixtures List until the date of the event.
  • The existence of an orienteering map does not give right of entry to an area other than during an event.
  • Competitors must visit the controls on an orienteering course in the specified order.
  • Competitors must mark their control cards clearly by punching within the relevant control boxes in competitions where electronic punching is not used.
  • Competitors will be disqualified if one or more control points have been missed or mis-punched, as evidenced by the punch patterns on the control card or by the electronic punching system, depending on which system is in use.
  • A compass and the map provided by the organisers are the only aids that may be used in a competition.
  • A competitor is obliged to follow marked routes stipulated by the organizers when displayed on the map and/or the control descriptions and/or notified before the start.
  • A competitor shall not attempt to cross boundaries marked on the map as ‘not to be crossed’, unless a crossing place is indicated, when crossing may be made at that point.
  • In the interests of safety, every competitor who has started the competition shall hand in his or her control card to a finish official irrespective of whether he or she has completed the course. A competitor shall report the loss of a control card to a finish official.
  • All competitors shall race independently except when they have entered as a group.
  • Protests may be made in writing to the event controller not later than 30 minutes after course closure.
  • Competitors running Championship courses at National or Provincial Championship events are required to be paid-up members of an SAOF affiliated club to qualify for trophies.
  • The competitor shall respect the environment and the property of landowners at all times.
  • At Championship level events, competitors run in age and sex categories. Competitors’ orienteering ‘ages’ are defined as their age on the 31st December of the year of the competition.