Trail orienteering

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Trail orienteering
Trail orienteering logo
Highest governing body International Orienteering Federation
Nicknames Trail-O, Pre-O
Contact No
Team members Individual
Mixed gender Yes, with paralympic and open classes
Type Outdoor
Olympic No

Trail orienteering (trail-O, also precision orienteering or Pre-O) is an orienteering sport that involves precise reading of an orienteering map and the corresponding terrain. Trail orienteers must identify, in the terrain and in the presence of decoys, control points shown on the map. Trail-O involves navigation skills but unlike most other forms of orienteering, it involves no point to point racing and little or no route choice. It is conducted usually on trails and because the objective is accuracy, not speed, the sport is accessible to physically disabled competitors on equal terms as able-bodied.

Trail-O is one of four orienteering sports sanctioned by the International Orienteering Federation (IOF). European Championships in trail orienteering have been organised every year since 1994. The first ever World Cup in trail orienteering was held in 1999, and the inaugural World Trail Orienteering Championships were organised in 2004. The World Championships are now organised every year [1] and were held in Vuokatti, Finland in 2013.[2]

Trail-O has been developed to offer everyone, including people with limited mobility, a chance to participate in a meaningful orienteering competition. Because control points are identified from a distance, and competitors are not allowed to leave the designated course, participants with and without physical disabilities compete on level terms.[1]


PreO is the traditional form of trail orienteering. Competitors are given a map at the start. The locations of the controls, the start and the finish are marked on the map, as in traditional orienteering. At each site, there are a number of control flags, but only one or none correctly represent the control marked on the map. The competitors have to stay on trails as shown on the map and look at the control at a specified location on the trail, which is called the decision point (DP). Decision points are marked on the ground, but not on the map. Competitors are allowed to move along the trail to observe, but need to choose the answer at the decision point. Each correct answer scores one point, and wrong answer scores zero point.

In addition, there may be a few timed controls in a PreO course, which is used for tie breaking only. They are not included in the total points (starting from 2014 rules)[3] but only have the time taken.


A TempO course has timed controls only. The competitors are ranked according to their time taken, which is the time needed to answer all controls and 30 seconds penalty for each incorrect answer, including blank and multiple answers.

In each timed station, competitors are required to sit at a designated place, at which all control flags can be seen clearly. They are given a set of maps including only the area around the controls, one for each question, and have to point at the correct answer on a plate showing A, B, C, D, E, F, Z as quickly as possible.

Mobility aids[edit]

Apart from a combustion-engine vehicle, any recognised mobility aids are permitted. Requested physical assistance is also permitted.


The orienteering map is usually at 1:5000 or 1:4000 scale.[4]

Control card[edit]

The competitor uses a multiple-choice control card and interprets the map to choose which one of the control markers in the terrain represents the one marked at the map. In Elite Trail Orienteering, also none of the markers could be correct, leading to the answer "Zero". A less common form involves determining the position on a map of a control viewed from a set point 30 – 40 metres away.


  1. ^ a b Trail Orienteering / Disciplines / Top - International Orienteering Federation
  2. ^ "World Trail Orienteering Championships 2013". Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  3. ^ Competition rules for International Orienteering Federation (IOF) trail orienteering events (valid from 1 January 2014)
  4. ^ "TRAIL ORIENTEERING". Don Braggins. 2007-09-10. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 

External links[edit]