Classic Orienteering events are categorised by Level:
- Level A events are major national events such as a British Championships. Courses are age-based, e.g. W45L
- Level B events are high quality regional competitions. Courses can be age-based or colour coded (see below
- Level C events attract participants from around the local region. Courses are colour coded
- Level D events are usually aimed at participants in a ‘localised’ area such as a town park
There are also several very popular multi-day events that tend to take place in the summer in northern areas such as Scottish Six days, Lakes 5 days, White Rose, and Jan Kjellstrom Trophy. NOR members travel to all these events.
In most events, a competitor follows a specific course, but in a Score event the competitor plans their own route and needs to find as many controls as possible in a specified time with penalties for being late to finish.
Most NOR events are Level C, Level D & Score events which are ideal for newcomers. As well as local Level C events which are run on the colour coded system, there are many other sorts of orienteering. In Level A and B events you compete on an age basis, but have the chance to run on either ‘long’ or ‘short’ courses. Courses set for Regional events are generally more difficult than those for local events, and National events can be even more challenging. But they all follow the same principle of navigating round your course, taking the controls in the correct order.
Night events are literally that! Controls tend to be sited in more easily accessible places, but the main difference from day events is that you need a strong light to guide you on your way. Halogen headlights are the norm, though a strong hand-torch is sufficient. There are several major competitions such as the Harvester Relay, Peter Palmer Relay and British Night Championships (hosted by NOR a few years ago).
Urban events are very popular and take place in city streets and parks, the route you take will be mainly on tarmac roads and paths with perhaps some small sections of grass. Unique map symbols are used. The London City Race is a popular annual event taking place in September each year and attracts over 900 competitors.
In some areas, Orienteering caters for the disabled with Trail-O events, and there is also Mountain Bike-O and Ski-O.