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What is Orienteering?

What is orienteering?

Orienteering involves navigating around a course to locate control points shown on a map. The winner is the competitor who completes the course in the fastest time. Orienteering is like cross-country running, except it takes it to a whole new level. On the longer courses competitors expect to be running through forests, sliding down hills and jumping off massive rocks! On the shorter courses competitors can take a more leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery, as well as the sense of satisfaction you get from being able to successfully navigate around the course.

Where does orienteering take place?

The sport takes place mostly in forests but also in parks, mountains, sand dunes and occasionally on streets. Events are held in nearly every country in the world, giving UCDO members a great excuse for going on holiday! Recent trips include Sweden, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Finland, England and Scotland. The Swedish event was attended by over 15,000 people!

Do I need to know how to navigate?

Orienteering is designed for people of all ages and abilities. Shorter courses are confined mostly to paths with minimal navigation required. On the longer courses, route choice is an important factor. Competitors have to weigh up the pros and cons of taking the direct route cross-country, or travelling a further distance around a track to the control. It is this factor which gives orienteering its appeal. Good navigation can often beat speed which puts competitors with different abilities in direct competition.

The club provides full training to those who want it. Though the best way to learn is through trial and error. Most people are also willing to stop and give you a hand if you get badly lost. As mentioned, very little navigation is needed for the shorter courses so they are a good starting point.

Do I Need to be fit?

No, not really. Courses generally range from 1.5k to 9k. This may seem easy, but when you add in the climb and fact that you can't always take the direct route they get a bit harder.

However, you can start off on the easier courses and work your way up. You can go round at entirely your own pace (walking if you wish) and come back if you get tired. As your competitive streak begins to show, you may find yourself running sections to try and move further up the results list!

What do I wear?

At the beginning, an old tracksuit and runners will suffice. You can wear hiking boots if you wish but they will slow you down. This is Ireland so you should also bring a light raincoat and a complete change of clothes and footwear for after (just in case)!

There are specialised clothes for advanced orienteers. Light bramble-resistant trousers and tops are worn (though unfortunately many people seem to buy pyjama-coloured ones - it can hardly be called a fashion-conscious sport!). O-shoes are similar to football boots - they have metal studs (for grip on rocks) and larger rubber studs (for mud).

We have a number of spare compasses available for sale \ lending to members.

How do I join?

Simply email us at and attend an event! Membership costs 10 euro. Members are entitled to free entry to most events and to attend cheap weekend's away!

Where can I find out more?

The best way to find out about orienteering is to come to an event. It is hard to describe the sport to those who have never tried it. Very few people come away from an event vowing never to come back!

If you have any questions or would like to attend an event, feel free to email us at The following links should also provide you with a bit of information about how it all works: