A new handicap system was adopted for 2004-5, and has been slightly revised for 2005-6 after a year of experience.  The handicap system is explained in the Q&A below.


The basic background to the system is that it is based on PERSONAL handicaps rather than arbitrary age-related handicaps (a bit like the system used in golf).  Each WNL regular has a personal expected score which they target at each event – if they achieve this score they get 1000 points, if they run above their normal standard they will score above 1000 points, and less than 1000 for a below average run.  Therefore it is very easy to see how well you performed at each event.



Who is eligible for the handicap?



Individual Orienteers only – pairs and families are still very welcome at WNL events, but only individuals will be eligible for the handicap.

Competitors are eligible for the handicap after completing 3 WNL events, and will be included in the Handicap from their fourth event onwards.  A 'New Night Orienteer' factor of 15% is added to the calculated handicap to take account of the significant rise normally experienced by all newcomers - eg a calculated average of 40% would become 46% on becoming eligible to earn handicap points.



How are Personal Handicaps worked out?



This is simply based on moving averages of your last 6 events – based on your percentage points in an event against the performance of the top 3 competitors at each event (see next question).

For the first 6 events your Personal Handicap is the mean average (including the new night Orienteer factor).  Thereafter, for each new event, your Personal Handicap is calculated as a ‘dampened moving average’ - five-sixths of your previous moving average + one-sixth of your latest performance.

There is a minimum handicap percentage applied to event scores of 20% (similar to that found in golf). 



And how exactly is your personal handicap calculated?



Your points total is compared to the mathematical average of the top three scores of eligible WNL Handicap members.  Therefore if the top 3 scores at an event are 500, 450 and 400 points – everyone’s Personal Handicap is based on their score compared against 450 points.  Therefore in the above scenario, if your points total is 225 points, your Handicap percentage would be 50.0%.

Only the scores of WNL Handicap members are taken into consideration so that the scores of one-off visitors do not skew the scores from any event.




How do I find out what my current Handicap score is?



The current Personal Handicaps are provided on the WNL web-site.  This is updated following each event and provides an accurate guide as to how you compare to other WNL regulars.  All results are retained, so if you are not on the list, but have run either 1 or 2 WNL events in the last two seasons, these will count as eligible events for the Handicap League.

The Handicap League is about how YOU perform at each WNL event and can be won by anyone from the weakest night Orienteer to the strongest night Orienteer, there is no age or sex bias to the results.



How are points calculated for the Handicap League?



The scoring is quite straightforward – based on the percentage over or under performance against your Personal Handicap.  If you perform exactly to your Personal Handicap you will score 1000 points.  If your run is below your Personal Handicap you score the relevant percentage – eg a run at 80% of your Personal Handicap will score 800 points.

Scores above a competitor’s expected performance are based on how high that expected value is, reflecting the fact that it is harder for better Orienteers to beat their Personal Handicaps.  The “average” Orienteer scores on a straight percentage basis, eg a score 50% over their Personal Handicap would score 1500 points, but others differ thus:




Percentage Overachievement



Expected Score (%)












Invincible Ifor





Speedy Sara





Average Amanda





Dawdling Duncan






Simply put, the percentage overachievement is factored by the competitor’s Personal Handicap compared to the Average Personal Handicap in the WNL.  The above illustration is based on an average of 50% for simplicity. The actual true average used is based on the median active Orienteer from the previous season – for 2005-6 this average is 51.5%.

There is a maximum score of 1800 points per competitor per event.




So who wins from this new system then?



This system is about as “fair” as you can get and theoretically everyone has a realistic chance of winning.  As per the old system, your best 6 events will count towards the total, so it is a distinct advantage to compete in as many events as possible.

The WNL Handicap League is likely to be headed by those who make a distinct improvement over the season.  This could apply to younger members of the League … time will tell.



Will any runs be ineligible for the Handicap League and/or the WNL rankings?



If a competitor scores less than 400 handicap points at an event, the score will count towards the league, but it will be assumed that their run was cut short by injury or equipment failure and therefore it will be deemed ‘non-competitive’ in terms of updating their Personal Handicap.  This will also make it very difficult for anyone to deliberately run slower to lower their Personal Handicap for long-term gain.



Doesn’t this discriminate against Event Organisers/Planners and reduce their competitiveness in the Handicap League?



Non-competing Event Organisers (up to two per event) are credited with 1000 pts for their event if they are members of the handicap league.



Do Handicaps last forever?  What happens if I have a break because of injury?



It is important that the handicaps remain current, but obviously injuries/lay-offs do occur.  At the end of each season anyone who has not attended a WNL event for two seasons will be removed from the database and will need to re-establish their handicap, as above.



Will a non-handicap league table be retained?



Yes, so effectively there will be two competitions each season.  The league will also be published on the WNL web-site after each event.



This seems very complicated – who can explain this to me and who will work out all of the scores?



Luckily spreadsheets take much of the pain out of the admin process. If you have further queries contact the results co-ordinator