Permanent Courses & Smartphone Orienteering
You can orienteer whenever you want at many permanent and seasonal orienteering courses across Scotland’s parks, cities and countryside. Permanent courses are great as part of a day out – as a family, a group of friends, or for individual training. Some courses use paper maps while others are available on your smartphone.
Permanent Orienteering Courses
Permanent orienteering courses are often found in public places like parks and other popular outdoor locations. You use a course map to navigate between permanent control points – white and orange orienteering symbols attached to things like posts or benches.
You can ask for a map from the relevant visitor centre or ask the local orienteering club. For a list of all courses in Scotland and information on where to download permanent orienteering maps, visit the British Orienteering website.
Smartphone orienteering with MapRun
MapRun is an app which allows you to use your smartphone to enjoy orienteering without needing to set up physical control points on the ground. There are now MapRun courses set up all across Scotland which you can go and run right now, with more new ones being added all the time.
Using MapRun, you can run an orienteering course using either the map on your phone screen or a paper version; the only difference from a “traditional” course is that there are no physical markers on the ground. Instead, the phone tracks your location as you run and vibrates or buzzes to confirm when you’ve reached each control point on the course.
As with other modern orienteering punching and timing systems, you can compare your times between controls and around the whole course with other runners, and with MapRun you can take part whenever you want.
Because there are no physical control markers, courses can be left open permanently for people to enjoy at any time. Setting up new courses is relatively straightforward for those with orienteering experience, and can be done from the comfort of your home.
The current recommended version of the app is called MapRunF (v4.8.8 22/04/2020). MapRunF is a complete rebuild of MapRun and has a lot of new additional functions, including CheckSites, which can be used to upload and test your own temporary course and a QuickStart Event function that lets you set everything up from within the app. You can also modify operational functions such as the threshold distance to accept a control punch and switch on a tracking dot to show current location. All MapRun events can be accessed through MapRunF. More information is available here.
How to use MapRunF to have a go at existing courses
Here’s our quick guide to get you started, and you can take a look at our more detailed pictorial instructions.
- Download the MapRunF app on Google Play or the App Store to your GPS-enabled smartphone.
- Enter your personal details.
- Select the “event” you want to run. You can find information about existing courses across Scotland in the table below, so you can choose by location, type, length and difficulty. Navigate to the UK/Scotland folder and then click on the event name to download the map. We recommend you download the map while you have access to wifi or a good mobile signal. Once downloaded, you’ll be able to retrieve the map from local storage on your phone.
- Some “events” are protected by a 4-digit PIN, which you should be able to find in the course information table below.
- If you prefer to run using a paper copy of the map, PDF files of many of the courses in Scotland are available for self-printing via the link in the course information table.
- Once you’re ready to run, click on “Go To Start” (if necessary re-loading the event from local storage in the event list first) and enter the PIN if required.
- Walk towards the start. Your phone should beep and the clock start timing once you come within range of the start location.
- Run the course as normal. Your phone should beep when you reach each control point. Sometimes you may need to slow down and stop for a couple of seconds, or move a few paces until it registers.
- Once you have found all the points (or your time is up for a score course) head for the finish for the final beep. You should avoid running past the finish before the end of the course or you may accidentally stop the clock!
- The app may automatically attempt to save your results but if you don’t have access to data this can be done later. Please remember to save your results as it will help us know how many people are enjoying using the app! If you have a Strava account you can also synchronise your session directly.
- To view the results table for the event, select “Show Results” and select the event that you have just completed. You will also be able to view the “track” of your route.
- If you’d like to set up your own course on MapRunF, see the information below or find out more here.
MapRun courses in Scotland
Below is a clickable map of current MapRun orienteering courses you can try across Scotland. Where a length is specified, the course is linear (visit the control points in the order shown) and where a time is specified, it’s a score format course (visit in any order). The course difficulty relates to the standard orienteering course colour-coded system.
If there are no courses near you yet, contact your local club or read below on how to create your own MapRun course.
You can download a copy of the map and course for printing from the clickable course link (note that in some cases the course is split into 2 for ease of printing on A4 paper).
Scottish MapRun Courses (updated 4th June 2020)
How to create your own MapRunF courses
If you’ve created an orienteering course before, setting up a MapRunF course is relatively simple. Depending on whether you are setting the course just for yourself or for use by others (e.g. in a club setting) there are two different ways of going about this:
Setting a course for your club or group
- You’ll need a suitable map and area. MapRunF is better suited for use in urban, parkland, or open moor areas where there is a strong GPS signal, rather than forest.
- If you don’t have an existing orienteering map of your area, you might be able to create a simple version for street events using the tools in OpenOrienteeringMap. Here is a simple step by step guide to this.
- Your map file will need to be converted to KMZ format for use within the app. There are two simple ways of doing this, depending on the software you have available.
- If you have access to OCAD 10 or above and your map is already geo-referenced, then you can do a simple export in KMZ format (select tiled option @ 512×512 with 150dpi resolution).
- If you don’t have access to OCAD or your map is not geo-referenced then the simplest method is to save your map as an image and then use the “Create a KMZ map” function built-in to the app – see step 3 in the QuickStart Event section below.
- You will also need to create a course file to define the locations of controls. This file will be saved as a separate KML and is most easily created using GoogleEarth Pro. The process essentially involves dropping pins onto your map to define the location of control points. Further information is available here, together with a video describing the process.
- Once you have created your files you can test out your course for yourself using the MapRunF CheckSites tool. There is more information about how to do this here. When checking your control sites it is worth noting the strength of the gps signal (green good, yellow mediocre, red poor / absent), as indictated at the bottom of your event screen.
- Once you have finalised your course, you should send your prepared files to firstname.lastname@example.org for upload to the main MapRun server where it will be available for others to use. Please also send Sarah a copy of the map and course as a PDF, so that your course can be included in the table of Scottish MapRun courses on this page; Sarah can also point you towards help if you need it.
Setting a QuickStart Event for yourself / family
With the QuickStart Event function you can set up a course very quickly using just your mobile phone. This option is not meant to be used for competitive purposes and your time and gps trace will not be uploaded to any central server. The following guide will step you through the setting up process, and you can also check out this video
- If you have an orienteering or other map that you would like to select for navigating with, then
• either save this onto your phone as an image file – then go to step 3.
• or, if it is already converted to KMZ format then first upload the file through the CheckSites portal. Use your allocated PIN to access and save the map to local storage on your phone – then go to step 5.
- Without a specified map, the app will use a satellite image for you to set up a course – skip to step 5.
- If you have saved your map as an image file, you will first need to georeference and convert this to a kmz map using the “Create KMZ Map” option (from the menu on the bottom right of the main screen). Select this and follow the instructions on screen to add your map image and then match two locations between your map image and the satellite image in order to georeference its location. You should choose two distinctive locations at diametrically opposite corners of the map to get the best fit between your map and the satellite image.
- When you are happy with the match between your map image and satellite image, click “Save as KMZ”, give the map a name and optionally add an email address if you would like to receive a copy of the KMZ map file to use for other purposes.
- Now you can use the QuickStart Event option. If you have prepared a map (as above), click on “Select Map” and you should find it in your local phone storage. Otherwise, the visible satellite data will be your “map” for the event.
- Next, you simply need to identify locations for the Start, each control point, and then the Finish. The start should be labelled as S1 and come at the top of the list followed by your control points, and then the finish labelled as F1. Scroll around the map until you are happy with the location of each point and then click on “Add”. Note that you can deselect your map overlay to check the accuracy of siting your control points against the satellite image (real world).
- Once you have completed your course, click on “Save” or “Save and Email” and you are ready to start.
- If you want to change something on your course you can edit the event. To do this, go to your local event storage and click on the pencil symbol alongside the event – this will take you to an editing facility where you can delete controls, add more and re-order.
- Once you are happy with your event, select it from the local storage and you are ready to start, as for any other MapRun course.
Other useful links to assist with course setting
You can find out more detail about the processes required to create the MapRunF input files here:
If you don’t have an orienteering map of the area that you wish to use, then you may be able to generate a PseudO map very simply, using OpenOrienteeringMap. Here is a step by step guide on how to go about this.
Alternatively, contact Sarah Dunn, who’ll be happy to help you get started.
If you need any further guidance or additional information, please e-mail Sarah Dunn – email@example.com.
Seasonal orienteering courses in Scotland (ROMP)
Scottish Orienteering regularly sets up semi-permanent seasonal orienteering courses, for more advanced orienteers. Called the “Regular Orienteering Map Programme” (ROMP), each course is set up for several months. Currently there are no ROMP courses available due to Covid-19