Barebones header

course planning resources

"I am still learning."       Michelangelo

Nothing makes so big an impact on orienteers' enjoyment than the quality of the courses they are given to run. To help course planners be good ones, here are some resources to help you set fun, fair, and challenging courses.

Note that although many countries use different terminology & color schemes to refer to courses and technical difficulties, this lack of standardization should not cause any serious confusion for we students of course planning.

From the UK

The British Orienteering Federation's website has a number of good course planning resources on their "Event Information" page. Some of the best include:

Splitting techniques to avoid pack formation

Map layout

Printing the courses

Once the courses are designed then the next challenge faced by Course Planners is how to print the course maps, maintaining precise colors (as per ISOM/ISSOM specifications), crisp lines and edges, correct symbol sizes, legibility, and proper over-print effect (so that the purple lines don't completely obscure map detail underneath them). The ideal situation is to use offset printing, however this is far too expensive for almost all events with under (say) one thousand participants. The challenge, then, is to simulate as closely as possible the look of offset printing but using cheaper technology such as inkjet printers, laser printers, or digital printers. The main concerns stem from limits that printers have generating specific colors and their resolution (dpi) (i.e. how to get symbols' sizes within the specified tolerances). These issue manifest themselves in line quality, symbol size, color accuracy, legibility, and over-print effects.

Making high quality course prints is surprisingly difficult and gets into many complicated issues involving computer color management. Here are a number of resources that will help you navigate through the challenges:

From Adrian Zissos

Course Planning Software

  • Condes is my tool-of-choice for course planning. It provides superb features that support the entire course planning process, and many different course types (point-to-point, score-O, butterflies, relays, ski-O, mtbO, TrailO). Plus it has great map layout features and allows use of multiple maps (eg: maps created at different scales) for the same event.
  • Here is a Condes tutorial in pdf format
  • Here is the same tutorial, as a web-based document in the Condes online help.

Miscellaneous resources


If you have suggestions for other course planning resources to include on this page, please email them to adrian 'at'