The series is brought to you by members of Oxford's two orienteering clubs:

Thames Valley OC

Oxford University OC

About Street-O


Street-O is urban orienteering, in what is called a “score” format. Each competitor starts individually and is given a special map showing the local road and path network. A number of control sites are marked on the map, each of which is allocated a certain number of points. The challenge is to score the highest number of points from visiting these sites within the time limit of 60 minutes – but beware, if you come back late you will be punished by being docked points!

Example street-o map

Street-O maps look rather like this

On the map above, the start and finish is at the purple triangle on the left hand side. From here you could get to number 3 easily (head along the road to the north-east, turn right at the crossroads and then left on a path to the control) or to number 1 with a bit more thought (head the other way, turn left until reaching the main road, then decide whether to follow the road network to the right or the path to the left, etc.). Once you’ve got the hang of the map, the next skill to learn is planning your route to get the most points possible within the time available.

[as an aside, the map above is not from a real event but was created quickly using Ollie O’Brien’s impressive OpenOrienteeringMap to use as an example.]

Why Oxford?

Street events have been around in some form for many years. However, there has recently been a significant increase in the number of high profile urban orienteering events (including the Oxford City Race) which has highlighted the potential of built-up areas for a sport that was first developed in the forests of Scandinavia. There are also major logistical advantages of using urban areas, particularly for mid-week evening events: they are where people live, they are easy to get to by public transport, they are lit up at night and they have enough intrinsic detail to avoid the need to place markers specifically for an event.

Experience elsewhere in the country (in particular by SLOW in London) has shown that a regular series of events can attract a sustainable group of regular competitors, providing mid-week training and competition for committed orienteers and an introduction to the sport for others. Oxford has a sizeable population of orienteers, has a variety of street patterns with generally low traffic speeds, and is a large enough city to support many events without too much overlap. Street events have also been identified in the development plan of our local open club, TVOC, as a potential initiative to bring more people into orienteering.

If you live or work in Oxford or the surrounding area, please come along to some of the events and help make them a success. If you’ve never tried orienteering before come and have a go, if you’re a regular treat it as a training event, or if you’re ultra-competitive go for the series win!

How do the events work?

The start and finish locations for the events are chosen to provide the opportunity to socialise afterwards, so for example may be the organiser’s home, or a pub. Start times will usually be between 7pm and 8pm, though it is often possible to start earlier than this and anyone arriving late can normally be accommodated as well. In 2011/12 the events will alternate between Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, towards the end of the month, from September to April.

When you’re ready to start, you will be given the map and need to start your watch because the 60 minutes is already counting down. The map tells you where the controls are, while the separate question sheet tells you the number of points for each control and the question that you’ll need to answer when you get there (for example “what is the number of the lamp post?” or “what is the name of the shop?”). Unlike conventional events, there are no control flags in street-o. You will probably want to study the map for a little while to plan your route, but once on the move you’ll need to keep your eye on the clock and make sure that you get back to the start within the hour. If you’re late you will incur time penalties that can quickly lose many of your precious points. If you have any questions before you start, the organiser will always be able to help you out.

Although street-o is a competition, an important element of the events is the opportunity to be sociable afterwards. Food and drink is usually available, provided either by the organiser or by the venue. People will start discussing their routes with each other as soon as they finish, while the last stalwarts don’t usually leave until nearly 11pm. Even if you don’t manage to get to the event in time to run, everyone is always welcome to join us for a chat.


You will need to wear suitable clothing and shoes for running – there will usually be somewhere to change if you come straight from work. Otherwise the only essential item to remember is a watch, as the events are based on a time limit! A compass is definitely not essential, though it might help you if you get totally and utterly lost. Similarly a head torch is also optional, though it can be useful – all of the control sites will be clearly illuminated by streetlights, and most streets (though not all alleyways) are lit.

There is a small entry fee for each event (£2) which goes towards map printing, governing body levies and prizes for the overall series winners. If the organiser is providing food they will ask for a contribution towards it, while if the event is based in a pub you obviously just buy your own.

Finally, please remember that you will be running across roads, even if most have a 20mph limit these days. You are responsible for crossing safely and should remember that you won’t be alone in having to wait a few seconds for traffic to pass. The events are not suitable for children under 16 (unless they run round together with a parent).