Competitive pairs on trial!

We are delighted that Edinburgh University Orienteering Club (EUOC) has offered to trial competitive pairs at the Big Weekend in Edinburgh at the end of January.  

Why Competitive Pairs?

Have you ever competed in a Mountain Marathon? If you have, you will know that this is often done in competitive pairs. This event style has a strong following, proving popular with young adults and runners who are new to navigation. It often ends up with a strong navigator running alongside someone who is a strong runner but less confident in their navigational skills. Running in a pair is great fun and has the potential to widen access to orienteering. Could we retain and engage more people in orienteering by introducing a pairs category at orienteering events?

Pair running at the Grampian Mountain Challenge
Picture Credit: GRAMP 

There is also demand for pairs from within the sport. Over the past year a number of surveys and discussions have been held with Juniors to find out more about what keeps them engaged and what will help to retain them in orienteering. The overwhelming majority of juniors supported the idea of pairs seeing it as a more social option and a way to have fun. An overall theme from our discussions with juniors was to make orienteering more social. 

Juniors new to orienteering running in a pair 

Parents see it as a way to support young people to enjoy going out when they may feel reluctant venturing out on their own, especially as they move up to longer courses. Parents talked about how good it would be for boosting confidence and reducing those times when their young people have returned in tears.

Some adults have said how they would love to have competitive pairs as an option for themselves as they would enjoy going out with someone else and being able to compete. Traditionally, family groups on white/yellow courses count but it is seen as non-competitive very quickly if anyone goes out in pairs/groups beyond this beginners stage.

How would Pairs be trialled at Orienteering Events?

Over the next few months we plan to trial pairs at orienteering events across Scotland. We are delighted that Edinburgh University has offered to trial competitive pairs at the Big Weekend in Edinburgh at the end of January.  

Pairs would have one dibber and a map each. We will trust that both members of the pair have been at the controls. Mountain marathons largely operate on this basis.  

Those under 16 can run with someone over the age of 18 who is the parent or guardian.

Pairs at a control during the Grampian Mountain Challenge  

Picture Credit: GRAMP 

Please let us know if your club is interested in hosting an event involving pairs as part of the trial. Alternatively if you have any questions please contact: or 

By Heidi Ross and Fran Loots