The notes below assume that you have (or will have) a master map of the area on which the course will be run. If you plan to draw your own map, please refer to our information page on mapping.


There are six steps to creating a good street-orienteering map:

Course Structure

Your goal is to design a set of interesting courses that meet the criteria below - note that the course-lengths for scatter courses varies slightly between series:


Course length for each series - in Kilometres

Course Monday evening
Southern Series
Tuesday evening
Western Series
Eastern Series
Thursday evening
Northern Series
A 9-10 9-10 9.5 – 10.5 9-10
B 7-8 7-8 7.5 – 8.5 7-8
C 5-6 5-6 5.0 – 6.5 5-6
D 3-3.5 3-3.5 3.5 – 4.5 3-3.5
E N/A  N/A 2.5 – 3.5  N/A
Power Walking Always a score course - participants decide the distance they will travel

Control placement

The key ingredient for a good course is route choice; participants on all courses should have a number of route choices around their course. The existence of various routes should be immediately evident when competitors turn their maps over at the start. The most enjoyable mass start Park & Street-O Courses are those where there are a number of complex but viable route choices between easily found controls and the competitors are still checking to see if there is a better way near the end of their Course.

For the course setter, the test for a good course is when you have to try a number of different combinations of controls and routes to confirm the shortest possible distance around the course; if there is an obvious loop from the start, then everybody will take it.

To provide route choice:

Some alternatives for control placement...

Rings or Layers of Controls

The theory behind the placing of controls is illustrated in the diagram below and is based on three rings of controls around the start. The inner ring (i) is for the D and E competitors with each control approx 300- 400 m apart. This means that collecting 6-8 controls gives them a distance of 2-3 Km. 

The middle ring (m) is for the Power Walkers and B-C Course Competitors where the 6-7 controls need to be further apart. These Controls should use up the numbers 15-20 so that they are possible for the faster Power Walkers. 

The outer ring (o) is for the A and B course competitors. These Controls are further apart to allow for the greater speed of the runners.



Cluster Course - controls are in groups. Runners that do one of a group will generally have to do all members of the group.


A compulsory control; one control that has to be visited by most/all course


Other course setting alternatives. . . 

Plan your Courses (3 to 4 weeks before the event...)

Start Location

The start location has been chosen by your club prior to the start of the season, and is usually selected on the assumption that adequate parking and toilets will be available. Don’t forget to check this! It's a good idea to provide the series coordinator with a map showing your proposed start location - if he/she arrives on site before you do on the day of the event, then they'll know where to set the finish banner up.

Determine Course Lengths

Use the table above - and be sure to check that the scale printed on the map is accurate. Some course-setters have set courses assuming that the scale on the printed map given to them was accurate - only to discover that the real map-sclae was closer to 1:12,500. This increases course lengths by 25% if one doesn't notice - always best to check a set distance on your map against the Melways.

Finally, the course lengths are a guideline for course setters. Course setters may choose to reduce lengths if the terrain is steep/hilly or the expected weather conditions are likely to be extreme.

Select Approximate Control Locations

In the comfort of your lounge room lay out the map and plan the control sites for shortest course (D or E) first. . . . as it is usually hardest to provide a challenge for this division. Ideally, this course should have a choice of 6-10 controls out of the 20 available. Next, add 2-3 controls further out for the next course up and then continue until all courses are set. 

With armchair course setting you don’t need to have any specific control locations, just select approximate control sites and then go and find the specific feature that the control will be attached to. Reconciling the number of controls and the distances can be very difficult. So only use these control suggestions as a guide. Note, however, that having the A course collecting say 19 out of 20 controls reduces the challenge considerably in choosing which controls to omit. Similarly having the shorter courses collecting only 3-4 controls makes it hardly worth coming to the event.

Allocate Control Numbers

When you have confirmed the control locations, you then have to decide what number will be assigned to each control. While this makes little difference for scatter courses, it is critical for score courses (such as the Power Walkers course). The numbers 16-20 should be reachable by a good power-walker.

Field Work (2 -3 weeks before the event...)

Check the Start Location

It's a good idea to check out the start location a few weeks before the event - if you visit around 7:00pm, you can confirm that toilets are still open and that gates/parking are not a problem. Checking the site beforehand allows time to communicate any last minute changes to series coordinators and thence to other participants.

This is also a good time to get in touch with sporting clubs or local councils that control the facilities in many of the areas that we use. Information on the policy of Local Councils concerning toilet blocks is contained in our Guide to Local Councils.

Check the Course

Go out on the map, to locate features close to the sites you have already selected. Be careful because this is where mistakes are often made. While you are at the site write down the control description that you plan to use (Use the Control Checklist in the StreetO Forms/Templates page). In addition, make additional notes of the actual location e.g. street-name, pole outside house 13--swing support, S.W. side.

Finally, make sure you put a dot on your master map, to signify the side of the street or the corner you have chosen.

If there are a number of similar parallel streets it pays to note the name of the street, as a check when controls are put out.

Choosing Control Descriptions

Poor control descriptions handicap the lead runner into a control - as they have to stop and search - when they find the control, other runners behind them gain an advantage. This causes 'bunching up' and makes it very frustrating for the lead runner, whose lead is often lost because of poor control descriptions. 

By having accurate control descriptions you ensure that the lead runner can maintain their advantage.

Use sensible, 'good' control descriptions....

Poor Control Description Better Control Description
'Tree' or 'east tree', when there are numerous trees in the area. Unless a tree can be clearly identified, avoid putting controls on trees. Tree outside No. 26.
Fence post, may not be clear  Fence Post, South end of fence
'Street sign', where there 3 signs within the circle area.  ‘No Standing’ sign, outside milkbar.
‘Playground eqpt..’ and inside the control circle are a swing and a slide.  ‘Swing S.E. strut’
Prunus Tree. This assumes botanical knowledge. Tree at head of court

Check the Map

First - have you read the Street & Park-O Mapping Guidelines? This document is the master reference for all street-O maps and your map should be checked against this first. To minimise errors/omissions, the key items are listed below.

Then, print one copy of your map and check it against the checklist below (do this BEFORE you produce bulk copies of your map):

Item Description Checked?
1. Control circles - should be biased towards the side of the street, or the corner where the control is to be placed. If the control circle obliterates significant features then it should be segmented.  
2. Control position - a dot should be used to indicate the location of the actual control - especially on street corners.  
3. Control numbers - should be positioned carefully. Make sure the number ONE does not look like a street or lane.  
4. Scale. Make sure that your map has the scale shown.e.g. 1:10,000 - a scale bar is not sufficient.  
5. Direction. Your map should have a North direction indicator.  
6. Times. For the score event component the finishing times should be on the map.  
7. Control numbers and descriptions. The number of controls to be visited by each grade, and control descriptions should be clearly shown.   

Contact details for more information on Orienteering – either your Club contact or Orienteering Victoria (9459 0853).

9. Rail Crossings. Rail lines should not be a viable route choice option. If you have to set a course crossing a rail line, ensure that crossing places are indicated, by using the legend X at each crossing point. NOTE! It is a waste of time putting information on a master map before the event, because as most people are not familiar with the map the X on the master map will be meaningless, also those who arrive at 6.55 don’t even have time to read it!.  
10. Control descriptions on the back in large print, as well as on the front of the map is a popular innovation  
11. Address of the start location should be printed at the base of the map (e.g. Eden Park, Celestial Road). This way any competitor that gets lost can get help or ask directions to facilitate their return.  
12. Put the Series Name and event date on your map.  

Print/Copy the Map

  1. One week before the event print and copy the required number of maps - a link to the latest attendance figures for each series can be found on the web pages for that series (just below the results table). These figures are updated weekly.
  2. Print enough maps for the most optimistic attendance - maps cost us about 5cents per copy - and extra $1-2 does not cost much but could save a lot of embarrassment if we run out of maps.
  3. Remember A4 size is preferred.. 
  4. Only colour in the start triangle - use a highlighter pen, not a texta-colour (highlighter pens are transparent and do not obscure detail beneath them). Do not colour control circles.

What's Next?