Once you are hooked on orienteering, or indeed even if you only run occasionally, there are many ways in which you can get more involved in the sport, and can give something back to the club and your fellow orienteers. With the exception of orienteering map making, which is done by both amateurs and professionals alike, almost all of the work to plan and run orienteering events is carried out by local volunteers. Without them there would be no orienteering, and volunteering is a great way both to learn more about orienteering, and to give something back to the sport.
For most events there are three key roles. The Organiser has overall responsibility for the event, and looks after all of the administrative and logistic work required to make it happen. The Planner is responsible for designing the courses to be set out for the event, putting out the controls, and making sure the map accurately reflects the terrain, vegetation and so on. The Controller acts as ‘the competitor’s friend’; he/she is responsible for ensuring that the courses are fair, that they conform to the standards laid down by British Orienteering, and that they have been correctly set out.
As well as these principal roles, many other jobs need to be done to put on a significant sized event, from car parking and road crossing marshalling to running the start, handling inquiries, and running the computerised timing and results processing systems. At the biggest events all club members need to get involved in helping with these tasks. Our small local events, however, are generally planned and run by two or three people, one person pretty much acting as Planner and Organiser, with some informal controlling support from others when required, and often from the mapping officer when he prints the maps. They are a great way to find out what is involved in putting on an orienteering event. You don’t need lots of experience or specialist knowledge; most of it is common sense, and there is plenty of help available in the form of other club members and the British Orienteering Rules and Guidelines for event organisation and planning. As soon as you have built a little confidence in orienteering, ask any of the organisers or helpers at an event how you can start to get involved.