This is the standard guidelines document. Please refer to the Covid WNL guidelines document for the changes relevant for these Covid times.

1.      All WNL events will be a score event, usually of sixty minutes duration. The recomended entry fees are £6 seniors, £3 juniors.

2.      The total points available should come to a total in the range 500 to 600, with each control worth no more than 50 points, and penalty points will be applied at one penalty point for each 6 seconds or part thereof a competitor exceeds the allotted time. If any competitors visit all the controls their score will have added to it one point for each 6 seconds his time is less than the allotted time. This scoring allows the league scoring system to be consistent. It allows some limited lateness to be beneficial to the score which helps avoid ties and encourages the competitors to go for that one extra control.

3.      Start times should run from night fall and will normally be allocated at least one minute intervals. So that organisers can expect to pack up promptly, no competitor should expect to be able to start later than one hour after the first start time. Courses should close approximately 80 minutes after the last start time which should be advertised.

4.      Organisers should plan between twenty and thirty controls, at least six of which should be planned to form a yellow standard course. Remember that night-time orienteering does make all controls more difficult. These yellow standard controls should be sited on line features, and should form a logical course for NOVICES. Some high-valued controls should be available near to the start/finish area.

5.      The controls for novices referred to in 4. above carry reflective tapes, together with those other controls for which reflectors are deemed appropriate, at the organiser’s discretion.

6.      Experience has shown that it is beneficial to have a controller for all of these events. On the day, organisers will find that they do need at least one other person to help with registration/start/finish. 1000 Handicap points are available for each of up to 2 nominated Officials for each event.

7.      The league will be based on competitors’ best six events. This number may be amended for a future season, at the pre-season meeting.

8.      At each event, the organiser will give to each competitor, a details sheet which will contain at least the following minimum information:

·                    event duration

·                    penalty points system

·                    control descriptions in both large and small formats suitable for wrist holders.

·                    points value of each control

·                    information as to which controls form the yellow standard course

·                    information as to which controls if any have reflective tape

·                    all relevant safety information, (see also section 12.)

·                    Whistles and Backup lighting being compulsory should be emphasised.

·                    Safety bearings for lost competitors should always be provided.

·                    nominated pub for after-event relaxation, bore-o etc. There will be no organised pub of the night during Covid.

·                    details of the type of punching, electronic or otherwise.

·                    information as to how to get results.

9.      If an event requires a map-exchange, consideration must be made as to whether the proposed system for this is fair.  The preferred method is to split the controls into an odd and an even half. Competitors can do either half first and can change only the once.  Scoring should be split evenly between the halves.  Choosing the half to do first and where to change becomes a significant tactical decision for competitors.  Care should be taken with the beginners controls to explain the order they can be taken in and where the recommended changeover is.

10.  Results. Organisers are requested to use an Excel Spreadsheet created by Ian Fleming to input controls visited and time penalties (+ or -), together with the points value of each control.  This forms the basic result sheet, and a sheet to use by the Organiser is provided before the event The Organiser should return this to the Results co-ordinator (with any comments) so that the Handicapping calculations can be carried out. These are subsequently forwarded to the Web master who places them on the WNL Website.  It is in everyone’s interest that results should go out within a week or well before the next WNL event. Results can usefully appear on other club websites quickly along with Splits before the final league scores are worked out.

11.  Pub of Night. Not Relervant during Covid.  Whilst not part of the competition, it is normal for the organiser to select a local pub for winding down purposes.  Having a good number of the competitors all in a known place for a period after the race also adds considerably to the safety element in the event of a search being needed.  In selecting such a pub organiser  should consider:

·        If juniors under 18 would be welcome

·        If food is available at the likely finish times

·        If we would be likely to be welcome there, and give the operator some idea on numbers. This is difficult but a minimum of about 6 and a maximum of about 16, would be usual.

12.  Safety. 

Whilst competitors run at their own risk, weather and lighting conditions can make WNL events subject to greater risks. ALL Organisers are required do a safety audit prior to the event and ensure that all competitors have adequate equipment and reserve lighting. British Orienteering insurance requires Whistles and Backup lighting to be compulsory. The organiser needs to check these as competitors start. See below for details. Mobile phones are also recommended and the organisers number should be on the map.  Competitors should be able to satisfy the organisers that they have suitable back up equipment for the likely climatic conditions.  E.g. making cagoules compulsory is not an unusual occurrence if conditions are at all bad.  Organisers should not only be aware of the clubs search and rescue procedures but be in a position to implement them if necessary. This involves the officials having adequate reserve lighting, and equipment to be used to execute the search plan.  Rucksacks with standard mountain marathon equipment are a good starting point.  It is recommended that the last starters be asked to stay in the assembly area after their runs until the last finisher returns, so that appropriate search facilities can be implemented if necessary.  The number for the pub of the night should be known so that if needed the  pub can be called and the competitors already there summoned back to help.

Special attention should be given to newcomers to night O especially with limited day experience as well.  The most critical thing is to emphasise the easier controls and the time limit.  Make it clear that they should be aiming to be back a bit early for a first outing.  Make it clear that if they are seriously late the organiser will start asking people not to leave so they are available to help with a search which would be started soon after everyone else has finished.

Safety bearings for lost competitors should always be provided.

If you have any doubts regarding safety, please seek advice from more experienced club colleagues and/or regular WNL competitors.




The following is from British Orienteering detailing the exact additional requirements imposed by the insurance scheme with regard to night events.

Night Events and Insurance

Our insurers base their risk assessment on our track record and on their understanding and appreciation of our rules and the steps we take to mitigate risk. Therefore it is important that organisers apply our rules strictly and are able to demonstrate and evidence good risk management.

For night events the current Safety Appendix to the rules state:

4.10 Night events

4.10.1 When the event is to be held during the hours of darkness the risk assessment must take account of additional hazards arising from this. The Organiser may require competitors to wear an article of high visibility and/or reflective clothing.

4.10.2 Competitors should be reminded of their responsibility towards their personal safety. It should be mandatory for them to carry a whistle and back-up lighting.  Checks should be made before they start. If the weather justifies it then wearing or carrying a waterproof hooded jacket needs to be mandatory.

4.10.3 For Urban night events in which competitors may encounter moving traffic, the Organiser may require competitors to wear an article of high visibility and/or reflective clothing.

4.10.4 It is advisable to notify the local police about the event in case they receive reports of suspicious lights. It is also good practice to inform local residents.

So, the wording could be clearer and will be updated shortly but 4.10.2 says “…. It should be mandatory for them to carry a whistle and back-up lighting. Checks should be made before they start….”

The insurers assume that ‘mandatory’ means mandatory and consequently this is what is required to be delivered for night events.

Clearly some will argue about the clarity of the rules and whether or not they agree with them; regardless of this it will be expected to be enforced by the insurers and if there was an incident this is what the insurers will expect.

So, at the moment until the rule is changed, please protect yourself, your club and British Orienteering by delivering the Rule and checking people have what they should have before they start. This will place you and us in the most defensible position if an incident occurs.

Add to your event information:

Please note that British Orienteering have confirmed that every competitor must carry a whistle and a backup light and that the organising club must physically check at the start that a reasonable percentage of participants are complying with this rule. Please bear with us while this kit check is performed.”

If and when the rule is updated I’ll let you know.