Foot orienteering is an endurance sport which involves a huge mental element. There is no marked route – the orienteer must navigate with map and compass while running.

The map gives detailed information on the terrain such as hills, ground surface, obstacles etc. To be successful in foot orienteering, the athlete needs excellent map reading skills, absolute concentration and the ability to make quick decisions on the best route while running at high speed.

Orienteers run over rough ground, completely unprepared forest terrain or rough open hills – cross country in the true sense of the word. Therefore, considerable body strength and agility is needed. Fitness similar to that of a 3000m steeplechase or marathon runner is required.

There is a wide variety of orienteering events: individual competitions and relays, ultra-short park races and mountain marathon events. Night orienteering with the aid of a head lamp is also a popular form of orienteering.

Every year, the best foot orienteers in the world fight for the World Champion titles and the World Cup victory.

Foot orienteering became a recognised Olympic sport in 1977.


RACING SUIT: A lightweight, stretchy suit protects from undergrowth whilst allowing maximum freedom of movement even if it gets soaking wet.

SHOES: Light, strong shoes with non-slip soles allow sure grip on all types of ground – including mud and bare rock.

MAP: The map provided by the organiser shows the course with the control points which must be visited. The map is designed to give detailed information on the terrain – hills, ground surface, and features such as boulders or cliffs.

COMPASS: There is a wide variety of sophisticated compasses to choose from. Basically they can be divided into two main categories: base plate and thumb compasses.

CONTROL CARD: To prove that they have visited all control points in the right order, the orienteers have to punch their control card at each control using an electronic device.

European Orienteering Championships 2021 will be in Switzerland

The International Orienteering Federation (IOF) together with the  local organising committee of the Orienteering World Cup, Verein Swiss Cup, are pleased to announce that the World Cup round which was scheduled to be he...

IOF General Assembly 2020 – Important information

Planning for the first ever fully online General Assembly of the IOF, to be held on July 10, 2020, is progressing. The IOF is teaming up with LUMI to provide a proven interactive solution for the digital meeting. Althoug...


European MTB Orienteering Championships and other event news

The IOF announces further event news as the effects of the Corona virus (Covid-19) pandemic continues to cause modifications in the IOF schedule. The MTB Orienteering World Cup event which is scheduled to be held in Finl...