Orienteering is the original adventure race! The goal in orienteering is to complete a course in point-to-point order as fast as possible. Starts are staggered, and the person successfully completing the course in the fastest time is the winner. The sport is easy to learn, but always challenging.

At the start you’ll get a detailed map of the area, usually a section of woods or parkland. Streams, trails, hills, depressions, rocks, etc. are all mapped very accurately and in great detail. The points on the course are drawn on the map as a series of circles connected by lines. The checkpoints are marked in the woods by orange and white flags located at the points corresponding to the centers of the circles on the map.

You must decide what route you will take to get to each checkpoint, and then use the map and your powers of observation to navigate your chosen route. A faster runner may choose to run mostly on trails, whereas a confident navigator may take a more direct route through the woods. A compass is very useful in keeping the map oriented the right way. You can carry a GPS if you want, but you will probably find it to be of little use as a navigational aid in the woods.

At an orienteering event there are usually a number of courses of varying lengths and difficulties. The easier courses offer a low-key opportunity for individuals and families to enjoy an outing in the woods, and the advanced courses will challenge the physical and technical capabilities of even the strongest runners. On the advanced courses, you may encounter steep hills, streams, marshes, and cliffs, as well as areas of open woods that you can run through at top speed. The map will help you identify where all these features may be found – to be avoided or taken advantage of, as you see fit.

The Quantico Orienteering Club organizes orienteering events in our area. Events are held most weekends throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Check the event calendar for the latest information. Events are open to the public; no experience is necessary, and beginner instruction is always available. There is usually no fixed start time. You can arrive at the event at any time during the published start window. Orienteering USA also organizes nationally sanctioned events throughout the year. GROC members have won regional and national orienteering championships!