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General Event Information

Course Types | Start and Finish Times | Fees | E-Punching | Event Types

O-meets can range anywhere from meticulously planned, multi-day, international events down to small, informal gatherings. O-meets are categorized as "A", "B", or "C" level, and will offer multiple courses for different combinations of age, skill, and conditioning. Each course has a standard color that describes its length and difficulty.

  • Beginners are always welcome and people are always available to share information on how to register, start and complete a course!
  • Registration and start times are from 12 noon to 1:30 pm for summer meets. You must complete your course by 3:30 pm. Please consider arriving earlier in the start window if you intend to take more than two hours on your course. Fall and winter meets are generally an hour or so earlier because of the earlier sunset, with a corresponding change in course closing time. Check the schedule for specific times.
  • Meets are only cancelled for extreme weather conditions in winter. A meet will be cancelled if the wind chill is a sustained -20°F or below at the start time of the event. At other times of the year, extreme weather can occur with little or no advance warning, therefore: In case of lightning or other severe weather, participants should take shelter and/or proceed at their own risk.
  • Wear old clothes, jeans, long-sleeved shirt, running or hiking shoes. Dense brush, poison ivy, and bugs are hard on exposed skin!
  • Bring a protractor plate compass and a whistle. Plan to arrive early if you need instruction on using a map and compass. You can also rent a compass at the meet, and purchase a whistle if you don't already have one.
  • We ask that you follow some rules of etiquette while participating in one of our events. Most of them are common sense, but there are a few peculiar to the sport.

Course Types

MNOC uses standard colors to represent the length and difficulty of courses:

Course Difficulty Length Controls are located
White Beginner 2 - 3 km (1.2 - 2.0 mi) On the trail
Yellow Beginner 3 - 4 km (2.0 - 2.5 mi) On/near the trail
Orange Intermediate 4 - 5 km (2.5 - 3.2 mi) On/near the trail
Brown Advanced 3 - 4 km (2.0 - 2.5 mi) Mostly off trail
Green Advanced 4 - 6 km (2.5 - 3.8 mi) Mostly off trail
Red Advanced 5 - 8 km (3.2 - 5.0 mi) Mostly off trail
Blue Advanced 7 - 12 km (4.4 - 7.5 mi) Mostly off trail

Start and Finish Times

In order to provide a safe event and respect our volunteers' workload, our meets have a few rules about start and finish times. You can start a course anytime during the start window, and need to be back at the finish no later the course closing time. For regular meets, these times are listed below. Some special events may have earlier or later start/finish times, so be sure to look at the schedule for the event you're planning to attend. If you expect to take a long time on a course, we suggest that you arrive early in the start window so you can complete the course before it closes. Volunteers will begin picking up controls after the course closes, and you don't want to be looking for a control that's already been removed.

In addition, each course itself has a time limit of three hours, unless specified otherwise as part of a special event. This means, for example, if you start a course at 12:15, you should be back at the finish by 3:15 even though the course may not be closed yet. Any results over three hours are automatically marked OVT (overtime). We ask that you return to the finish within this time, even if you haven't completed the course.

SeasonStart windowCourse closingTime limit
Winter (January 1 - start of Daylight Savings Time)12 pm - 1 pm3 pm3 hours
Spring/Summer/Fall (during Daylight Savings Time)12 pm - 1:30 pm3:30 pm3 hours
Fall (after Daylight Savings Time ends)11 am - 12:30 pm2:30 pm3 hours
Minnegoat (usually Fall)11 am mass start3:30 pm4 1/2 hours


MNOC charges only for the cost of maps that you use. Up to 3 people may go out together, share one map, and pay only one fee. Larger groups should have additional map(s) for safety.

Junior members (under 20)$6.00 per map
Adult members$7.00 per map
Non-members$10.00 per map
Electronic punch rentalFree, if required for the event.
Compass rental$1.00 each
Whistle purchase$1.00 each
Additional maps$3.00 each
Online preregistration (if offered)$2.00 discount per map

MNOC has compasses available for rent at all events. We will ask that you leave your car keys or an ID card as deposit until you return the rented item. Lost compasses will incur a charge of $10, enough to cover the cost of replacement.

At events that require electronic punching, finger sticks will be provided free of charge for the courses that require them. Lost E-punches incur a charge of $35 - just enough to cover the cost of replacement.

You may also purchase an MNOC whistle to keep for $1.00. We do not rent whistles for reasons of hygiene.

Finally, please take advantage of our $2 online preregistration discount! You can register for almost all MNOC events right from the Schedule page, pay online via Paypal or credit card, and not have to worry about registration at the event - just show up ready to orienteer. Preregistration also helps us to plan for the right number of people, and have the right number of maps available.

Note that some MNOC events may have fees different than listed above, depending on the nature of the event. If so, the prices will be listed on the schedule and posted at the meet site. Also, keep in mind that most regional and state parks have entry fees.


MNOC uses electronic punching on selected courses at some meets. A rented finger stick is used that records the time at each control. This stick is then downloaded at the finish to give a record of the total course time and the time for each leg of the course. This allows for discussions of time taken for each leg of the course, as well as on-line "armchair" orienteering with splits analysis. An example of split times is here.

MNOC also offers RouteGadget, a browser plugin that allows you draw your route on a course map and compare with other orienteers on the same course. It even offers an animation feature so you can compare the consequences of your route choices with others' route choices. Routegadget is usually available for all E-punch courses. Click on the link in the menu to the left for recent E-punch events.

Event Types

Sometimes we will hold special event types to provide other kinds of orienteering challenges. Some of the events that MNOC has organized in the past are:

Sprintless than 2.5 kmBeginner-IntermediateA sprint event is a short course, usually less than 2.5 km, with beginner to intermediate level navigation. Sprints are often held in a compact area, with many control points close together and rapid changes of direction. They are best suited for a compact or urbanized area such as a city park. The key to sprint events is quick decision making and good micro route choice, although participants are also welcome to take the course at a slower pace and enjoy the park. MNOC's sprint events are part of the national Sprint Series, and participants can choose to earn Sprint Series points.
Adventure Runaround 6 kmIntermediateThis is a new orienteering format introduced the fall of 2005. Teams of two or more people mass start on a short (45 minute) intermediate-level course in a city park. A series of runs are held on consecutive weeks at the same location, but with different courses. Points are accumulated to determine the series winners.
Long10 km or moreAny, usually AdvancedAs the name suggests, a Long-O is a course that covers a greater distance than usual. Typical distances 10 km or more. Although the course can be of any level of difficulty, a Long-O often combines a lower level of difficulty with a longer course.
Minnegoataround 15 kmIntermediate-AdvancedThe Minnegoat is a Long-O. It is a special annual event that tests the endurance and orienteering skills of its participants. It is typically 15km long and may involve multiple maps and optionally skipped controls. Navigation is intermediate to advanced. There is a mass start at 11 AM and participants are allowed 4 1/2 hours to complete the course.
ScoreVariableAnyThe object of a Score-O is for the participant to visit as many controls as possible in a preset time. Many controls are usually scattered around the meet area, with no set course between the controls. The participant can choose which controls to visit (or not visit) and in which order. The challenge of a Score-O is to decide the most efficient order to visit the controls within the alloted time.
NightVariableAnyA orienteering event held at night. Flashlights and headlamps are allowed (no floodlights, please - be courteous!) Night orienteering gives you a chance to practice more navigation, since it's not easy to spot the controls unless you're right on top of them.
Adventure-Oaround 40 kmIntermediateAn Adventure-O shares a lot with the fast-growing sport of adventure racing. Teams of two to four people will run several legs with different modes of transportation such as run, bike, swim, or canoe. Each leg is based around finding control points and there is a heavy orienteering component to the race. There are often team challenges that must be completed between the legs (and they are kept a surprise until race day!)
Rogaine20 km or moreIntermediate-AdvancedA Rogaine is a long foot orienteering event, both in length of courses and time allowed. Rogaines usually have at least a 4 hour time limit, and can be as long as 24 hours. For safety reasons, participants are usually required to team up with at least one other person. Rogaines are usually set up as a Score-O, where each team can choose the route to any control.
Beginnerless than 4 kmBeginnerA special event held for the first time or beginning orienteer. There will be several people ready to provide an introduction to orienteering, a map and compass introduction, or basic instruction to anyone who asks for help. There will generally be only beginner (White) and advanced beginner (Yellow) courses set. These courses are suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. The controls are placed on the trails.
PermanentVariableBeginner-IntermediateThese are courses that are permanently set in a select few parks. You may make use of the course as it fits your schedule for recreation or training. MNOC has set permanent courses at five locations around the Twin Cities, one in northern Iowa, and one near Sioux Falls, SD. See the POC page for more information.
BikeVariableBeginner-IntermediateThe only difference for a Bike-O is that the mode of transportation is a bicycle. Controls are on or near bike trails.
SkiVariableIntermediate-AdvancedA course set in winter, on or near trails. Participants use skis to complete the course. Ski orienteering is mostly on-trail and relies heavily on route choice.
Snowshoeless than 6 kmAnyA course set in winter, usually off-trail and requiring snowshoes to complete. Difficulty is similar to foot-O courses in the warmer months, and length is adjusted for snow conditions.
"Tri"VariableAnyAn orienteering event involving three modes of transportation, like a triathlon. These modes are usually run or walk, bike or rollerblade, and swim or boat.
Mail-inVariableIntermediate-AdvancedThis is a special orienteering course, not an event. A MNOC original idea, the Mail-in O is an unattended orienteering course set for 3-5 weeks at a time. The course is set exactly as one of the A-level courses set by the club in the past. Instead of controls you will find a piece of orange tape with the control code on it.

If you have a map, an Mail-in O is an excellent training opportunity because you can take your time and read the terrain, rather than hurrying to the finish. Since the Mail-in course was used for an "A" meet, the course will be of excellent quality and provide a real challenge. You may choose to do the course as many times as you like, and attack the controls in any order you like. Please be careful, file a trip plan with someone you know and take adequate precautions when venturing into the woods. For more information please e-mail maps@mnoc.org

OtherOccasionally MNOC will host various activities designed to teach orienteering skills. These can be the perfect way to hone your own skills and benefit from the experience of other orienteers.
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