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Organisers Guide for SSS and MM Events


  1. This Guide is for fairly new organisers who have volunteered to run a Sydney Summer Series (SSS) event or a Moonlight Madness (MM) event. Both are score courses, and in Garingal they are usually organised by a team of 2: the organiser and a buddy-cum-vetter.

  2. COVID: The 2023-24 SSS season is unlikely to be affected by Covid, but if you need information Warwick Selby ( is Garingal’s Covid officer.

  3. Experienced “buddies” are essential to double check everything, e.g. the spread of controls, ensuring they’re put in the right place, that the map looks good, and to provide advice and help as needed. They’ll also help put out the controls on “the day” (and collect them afterwards). Organisers can nominate a buddy (they should be experienced), or Garingal will find a buddy for you. If you would like Garingal to find a buddy contact Warwick Selby (

  4. This guide includes details for both planning the course and organising the event (getting permissions, map printing, equipment, etc.). It includes advice and tips written by Ross Barr when he was coordinator of the Sydney Summer Series.





The course should be enjoyable for experienced orienteers and newcomers. Generally, people enjoy a course if they get lots of points, so one goal is to set a course in which the best runner gets 580 or 590 points. Another goal is to set a course so that at most controls there is a choice of ways to go, rather than an obvious best choice. Don’t forget a Mini course for SSS events (see points 11 to 13).

  1. The first thing to do is to get the latest version of the map of your event area. Maps are created and stored digitally: they are drawn using Ocad software and kept in Ocad format (as .ocd files). Carol Jacobson ( maintains Garingal’s map library. Contact her to get a copy of your map to use for planning. Usually, it will initially be in pdf format.

  2. The first decision is where the assembly area will be. It should have access to toilets, and ideally include an area that provides shelter if it is raining. Garingal has gazebos that are easy to pitch, but it is easier to use available shelter. Orienteering events are “on” regardless of the weather.

  3. Creating a course entails a number of steps, starting with a rough course plan and improving it with field checking and distance calculations, next comes taping control sites, then drawing the “final” course ready for printing.

  4. A spread of both the location and 'value' of controls is important to ensure an enjoyable course. A good course is one in which competitors head off in all directions from the start because there is not an obvious route to follow. The 30-point controls should be spread widely to ensure many competitors achieve good scores - including a few high points “in-close” works well for slower participants

  5. There is no correlation between control value and difficulty. All control sites should be of a similar easy standard. (With Moonlight Madness events especially there should be no difficult navigation.)

  6. Although the length of the course will vary depending on how hilly the area is, experience suggests that between 9 and 11km to get all controls is about right, depending on the steepness of the area. The distance for Moonlight Madness events should be about 10-20% shorter than a daytime distance.

  7. Most Garingal maps are at a scale of 1:10000. For maps with a lot of detail, and especially for night time events, when details such as paths must be read using a torch, a map printed at 1:7500 may be better. If you are unsure of which will be best for your event, mention this to Carol as she knows what maps have been used at what scales in the past.

  8. The best software for drawing control sites for your course(s) is Purple Pen. It is free, and can be downloaded from ONSW runs Zoom courses on how to use Purple Pen from time to time. If you would like to attend one, contact them ( Ian Jessup ( is also available for Purple Pen help if needed.However, most people find it very intuitive to use. Also, the first course you draw is a draft, so small mistakes are not important.   If you need help with particular tasks later on, your buddy may know the answer, or there are hints on the Garingal website (coming soon).

  9. It’s good to talk to your buddy as soon as possible, to decide how you will work together, and who will do what (and when). E.g. it’s good to get a second pair of eyes to check the spread of control sites on paper, before you start field checking.

  10. When you have chosen a set of control sites do a quick check of the distance. Some people use a printed map and a piece of string. On a 1:10000 map, the string should be 1m and should be able to get to all controls. On a 1:7500 map the string should be 1.3m. If you prefer an app, there are quite a few from which to choose: If you are running along roads and well-known tracks MapOMeter is very easy to use (; a well-known alternative is MapMyRun ( but requires you to set-up a free account.

  11. When you have a draft set of controls, you should contact Carol Jacobson again to get an “event” map prepared for your event. Carol will need to know the boundaries for each edge of the map., and which areas are not used for controls, and so can be used for a legend or control descriptions (etc.). For a score course, the easiest way to do this is to send Carol your draft course.

  12. Mini Course: For SSS events (but not MM events) it is common to have a Mini course for children. Usually, the Mini course is a score course with controls in the park you are using for an assembly area and NO road crossings. Sometimes a Mini course is not possible.

  13. Usually, about 8 controls is a good number for a Mini course (but perhaps not possible in a small park). They should be very easy to find. The Mini course can share controls with the main course.

  14. The Mini course will be on a larger scale map (e.g. 1:3000). Carol will prepare a separate map for it, so confirm the area that you plan to use for the Mini when you send her the draft of the main course.


  1. The assembly area is usually in a public park managed by a local council, but scout halls or similar locations are also good venues. With a public park, it is always essential to seek council permission. Some councils require 12 weeks’ notice, others are happy with 3 or 4. Hiring a park is usually expensive and orienteering uses only a very small area, so, if possible, talk to someone in the council who has previously had contact with orienteering groups. Each council has a different procedure (and forms!) for obtaining permission. If you have questions, talk with your buddy, or Warwick or Carol (contact details are in the Introduction).

  2. Once the start location is finalised, go to your event in the Events calendar (Eventor) on the ONSW website and check that the information about the event is correct. If changes are required, once again contact Warwick or Carol. If a large change is required, or a last-minute change, also send the information to ONSW ( for inclusion in the Tuesday Ebulletin, so that runners go to the correct location.


When you are happy with the course on paper it is time to check and mark the control sites in the field.

  1. Each control site should be marked using electrical tape or surveyors’ tape at the exact location that you plan to hang the control e.g., put tape on the fence end or a tree at the track junction. Check there is a suitable object that the SI (SportIdent) unit can be padlocked to. Write the control number on the tape using a waterproof pen.

  2. IMPORTANT: Control sites must be something with a legend entry and be visible on the map. E.g. most "light poles" are NOT on the map, so don't use them alone. However, "Road bend (light pole)" is completely acceptable, because the road bend is on the map.

  3. Sometimes it is good to go with your buddy to check control sites - but sometimes this is not practical. If your buddy is checking later, use a piece of tape that is big enough for him or her to find easily(!) and allow them at least a week to check the course. (Usually, they will recommend some changes.)

  4. Before leaving the control site, write down the control description, e.g. “building, north side”. If you wait until you get home you may not be able to remember where you decided to hang the control. (Orienteers should not have to go round a building looking for the control.) If there is more than one of the control features in the control circle (e.g. two fences) you must also indicate which feature the control is on (e.g. ‘south fence’).  Your buddy should also check the control descriptions.

  5. Often you will need to make small changes to the course because the mapped features are not as expected or there is nothing to attached the SI unit to. In urban areas, new manmade features often appear and will create confusion if they are not mapped, and new tracks are also made. If you find the map no longer accurately shows what is at a control site location, then you will have to decide whether to correct the map or move the control site a little. (The latter is always easiest!)

  6. If there are changes that must be added to the map (e.g. a new track has appeared), then carefully note how the map should be updated (e.g. exactly where the new track starts, where it goes, and where it finishes) and draw this on your map. Get your buddy to check any changes to the map. Then email Carol your sketch map, so the map can be fixed.

  7. If you have not done so already, confirm with Carol the boundaries of the map you will use. She will then prepare an “event map” with all the expected information (legend, scalebar, copyright, etc.).



  1. When it’s time to make your final course map, it is best to use an Ocad file (rather than a pdf) for drawing your course in PurplePen.

  2. For a draft map the “All controls” tab in PurplePen works well, but for the final map it is good to put the controls into a Score course, so you can include the point score. Chose Course > Add Course and in the window that opens:  (a) name your course,  (b) change ‘Normal Course’ to ‘Score Course’,  (c) change ‘Control Circle Labels’ to ‘Sequence number’, and  (d) change ‘Show points in’ to ‘Column A’.  PurplePen then automatically arranges controls in score order.

  3. There are many things to think about when making your final map. They include:  (a) checking that both the control numbers and the circles do not hide important map details;  (b) checking that the numbers are easy to see, e.g. consider making a white border around the numbers (in PurplePen, choose Event > Customize Appearance);  (c) checking that a reminder to “Take care crossing all roads” is included;  (d) putting the control descriptions on the map (in English); etc.  Hints for all these steps (and more) are available on the Garingal website (coming soon).

  4. IMPORTANT: Emergency contact details for the organiser (a mobile phone number) must be added to the map. It should be written using a purple font and use the words: “Emergency contact”.

  5. Create a PDF file of your course map in PurplePen (use File Menu > Create PDFs > Courses). If your control descriptions will not fit on the map, type them in Word or Excel or a similar program.

  6. For the Mini course, repeat steps 1 to 5, using numbers between 31 and 40 for additional controls used only on the Mini course.)

  7. Peter McConaghy ( is recommended for map printing, as he is a member of Garingal and has a lot of experience printing orienteering maps. The PDF version of the map(s) can be sent to Peter electronically, but contact him first so you can be sure he is available to print your maps. You will need to decide how and when you will pick up the maps. (Both Peter’s work-place where the maps are printed and home are near St Leonards station.) When you get the maps you should give them a final check - “just in case”.

  8. As a guide typically for SSS print 220 maps and 15 mini and for MM usually 80 is sufficient. 

  9. A couple of days before the event, email your map pdf file and a pdf file of the control descriptions to John Brayan ( He will put them on the Eventor website about 6pm the night before the event. If you have any other information for competitors (e.g. about parking) also send this to John (as a pdf file).


  1. Another important part of preparation for your event is to contact your helpers and remind them about the date. The names are in the helpers’ roster which is available on the Garingal website (click here). Contact GO’s Helpers Co-ordinator Ken S-H ( to obtain their email addresses. 

  2. You will need 1 or 2 helpers to come early to help you and your buddy set-up. During the event you need the following:  one helper to run the “Meeting Point” (to check-off names of pre-entries and to answer simple questions (“where are the toilets?” etc.)); one helper to handle enter on the day entries (this person needs to be happy using a tablet), and one to help first timers and people needing more detailed information. Each helper will also want to “have a run” - some can run first and then help, and others help first and then run. As a result, you need 5 helpers present throughout the event – but some are running while others are helping. When it is time to pack-up, you will need some helpers (4 or 5) to stay back and help collect the controls.

  3. When you contact the helpers, check they are still available and ask about their preferences for helping (e.g. come early or stay late, run first or second). However, you may not be able to give everyone exactly what they request. It is good to make a roster and share it with all helpers, so everyone knows when they will get a run, and when they are expected back.


The next task is to arrange to collect the equipment for the event. Most of the gear comes from Ron Junghans who is Garingal’s equipment officer. The SI team provide the gear needed for the controls.

  1. First, check Eventor or Garingal’s website to see if any other Garingal events are happening about the same time as yours. If there are other events just before or after your event, you will need to contact the other organiser to coordinate getting and returning the gear.

  2. Contact Ron (9450-2027 or 0438 468 914 – 8am or 8pm are the best times) to arrange a mutually convenient time to collect the gear.

  3. There is a list of gear (on the last page), and Ron is very experienced in helping organisers choose the equipment that is needed, so he will help you find the right stuff!

  4. If there are usable picnic tables at your assembly area, you will need fewer tables.

  5. Wet weather is always a possibility, so if there are no covered areas at your assembly area, you may also need a Garingal cabana.

  6. NOTE: Small orienteering flags are used to mark the controls, and at night time these MUST have a reflector added. Also remember to get these from Ron for a MM event.

  7. If you have not heard from the SI team, contact Martin Cousins to check who will be on your SI team, and arrange to get the control units, flags and padlocks and cables. (This can often be at an SSS event the week before.) The SI team will wish to know if you have a mini course, and the controls on it.


On the day, you have four sets of tasks:

(a)   putting out the control units and flags;

(b)   setting up the assembly area; incl. having the emergency mobile phone that's listed on the map fully charged and turned on

(c)   running the event; and

(d)   packing up and collecting the controls again.

Your buddy and helpers will help with all of these tasks, but you need to coordinate the helpers.



  1. Hang the control units and flags (and at night a reflector) for good visibility - don't hide them.

  2. Hanging controls takes a surprisingly long time. A competitor may be able to run around all the controls in 45 minutes, but to set-up each control will take about 4 minutes plus walking time (say an average of 4 minutes), so 30 controls will take at least 240 minutes or 4 manhours. A mini course will add about 7 controls taking 4 minutes, plus 2 minutes walking time, or another 40 minutes. It is essential to allow extra time, because things do go wrong! To be ready to set-up the event by 3:30, you will need a team of 2 to 4 people, or to start by 10am.

  3. Plan who will place which controls and the order in which you will place them. This will depend on many factors, like the nature of your area (bush or busy suburban), and if it possible to drive to a few or many control locations, which saves time. Although you have to allow “enough” time to hang all controls, the closer to the event time you can hang them, the smaller the possibility of vandalisation.  

  4. All control hangers will need a map and a copy of the control descriptions to place the controls, so they can check the code on the tape and the control descriptions to make sure they are putting the right control unit in the right place. (Mistakes can be made if they are hurrying, so allow plenty of time.) Each SI unit must be padlocked to something secure. The units should also be securely taped so that a SI stick can be dipped without touching the control. (Insulation tape is best for this, so each control hanger will need a roll of insulation tape. The SI team usually supplies tape, but you may need to buy more.) Tie the flag securely, but remember someone will have to untie them in the dark!

  5. Plan to finish placing all controls at least half an hour before the first start time.


  1. If your assembly area is difficult to find, put out some ‘ORIENTEERING’ directional signs.

  2. Starts for SSS events are usually from 4 to 6:45pm with course closure at 7:30. (For MM events they are between 5.30 and 7.00 pm with course closure at 7:45.) It is a good idea to be ready with everything set up 15 minutes before the advertised start time, as there are always early birds.

  3. Set-up the Garingal orienteering flag, the Meeting Point flag, and (if you have it) the SSS banner.

  4. Set-up a table and chair for the Meeting Point and a separate table and chair for enter on the day (EOD) entries. This table should be at least 20m away from the Meeting Point table so the queues don’t get confused.

  5. Set-up the green Start flag and red Finish flag. Talk with the SI team about when they are ready to put out the Clear and Check units, and then the Start and Finish units.

  6. Get the helpers to wear the orange vests so it is obvious who they are. It is also helpful to newcomers, if the Organiser wears a vest with “Ask Me” on the back.

  7. Ensure that the emergency mobile phone has the volume turned up and is within easy hearing.


  1. 3 helpers are generally needed at all times, to ensure a normal event runs smoothly. One for the meeting point, one for the EOD table, one for helping newcomers and telling them everything they will need to know to enjoy their first event. The main organiser should be a floating helper, checking that everything is going smoothly, and if there are “hiccups” working-out how to fix them.

  2. The person at Meeting Point table checks the names of pre-entries (and season ticket holders for SSS events) and provides maps (and if pre-ordered, hire SI sticks) to entrants. They will need: (a) a list of pre-entries; (b) a pen for marking names on the list; (c) maps for these entrants; and (d) the SI sticks for people who have pre-hired them. (The SI team will provide items (a) and (d).)

  3. The person working at the EOD table needs to be computer “savvy”. They need the following equipment: (a) Notices and the QR code (to stick on the table or notice board, etc.) that explain how to use Garingal’s EOD app; (b) Garingal’s Square tap’n’go payment terminal; (c) 2 tablets: one receives emails from the EOD app and the other has the Square app to send payment details to the Square terminal; (d) maps for these entrants; and (e) SI sticks for people who haven’t pre-hired them. The SI team will provide items (a), (b), (c) and (e).
    (a) Entry details: These must be checked for correctness and completeness, including "complete name + contact details + birth-year + gender.
    (b) Payment details: Entrants are expected to pay using a contactless method. The Square app and price list on the second tablet are used to charge entrants. Fees are divided into club member and non-member (casual) rates. For orienteering club members, the fees are $8 for juniors (under 21) and $12 for the other age classes. For casual participants, the fee is increased by $4 in both categories. Hire sticks cost $4 and extra maps are $2 each. These items can be selected from a menu on the payment tablet, and the total sent to the Square terminal for the payment to be made. (After paying, the entrant receives the map.)

  4. For SSS and MM events entrants start themselves whenever they are ready.


IMPORTANT: (a) Ensure newcomers know that they must download their SI stick when they finish. Some-times this is forgotten, and organisers spend time waiting for people who have already gone home.

(b) Tell people who are starting close to 6:45pm that controls will be taken in at 7:30pm, so they will need to return by that time. (For MM events the last start is 7pm and controls are collected at 7:45.)


  1. When the time for the last start is past, the Meeting Point and EOD tables can be packed up, along with the Start banner and unit.

  2. Plan how the controls will be collected by dividing them into 4 or 5 (or more) clusters that can be easily collected as a group. It is always good to have a number of control collectors: if 5 people collect 6 controls each, all controls should be “in” by 8pm, but if there are fewer it will take longer.

  3. By 7:25 pm all orienteers should be near the finish and your control collectors can start going out to be ready to start collecting controls at 7:30 pm.

  4. The SI team will be able to tell you when everyone has returned. If someone has not returned, they can also tell you their name, club, and when they started. The organiser must review the situation of anyone who has not returned. If other members of their club are still present, speak with them as they may be aware of seeing the missing person on course. All entrants are expected to provide a phone number, this is the time to ring it, to check their well-being. For members, the SI team will be able to provide next of kin information and that should also be used if needed.  

  5. It is good to get the control collectors to help sort flags from sticky tape and cables when they get back. The organiser should stay in the assembly area so they know which control collectors have returned and any who are still out. When all controls are back, the SI team will probably take the control units. (If this is not possible, arrange how you will return them.)

  6. Before leaving the site, check that the Assembly area is left clean (and collect any direction signs!).


Both the event organiser’s job and that of the SI team are not quite done!

  1. The SI team will upload results to the Eventor website.

  2. ONSW requires a report of the numbers of entrants for their participation statistics, and to calculate their levies. Currently, it is planned that GO’s treasurer will complete this form (its focus is money).  

  3. If you have any “out-of-pocket” expenses (e.g. more surveyors tape), you should scan the receipt and email it to (Istvan Kertesz) to obtain a reimbursement for them (include your Name, Bank BSB and Account number).

  4. Check and tidy the gear and ring Ron Junghans to arrange to return it to him. Note anything that was damaged or “ran out” so it can be repaired or replaced.

  5. Finally, please send an email to thank all the helpers at your event. You and all helpers will receive GObies to thank you for the time spent organising the event, so please copy Carol Jacobson ( who looks after GObies, to ensure that all helpers are included.

Hopefully some orienteers will thank you for setting an enjoyable course, but sometimes people overlook the hard work that goes into an orienteering event. Garingal Orienteers thanks you very much for all the time you have spent planning the courses and organising your orienteering event.


Appendix 1. List of equipment to collect from Ron Junghan’s place


For all daytime events:

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