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Planning a Virtual Orienteering Course

Last edited: Tue 21 Jul 2020

On this page, we'll show you how to create a course ready for a GPS-punching event. This could then be used for a MapRun event.

For quite a few years, we've been using MapRun for our weekday evening events. These tended to be urban score courses, but the system can cope with far more.

Here are some (hopefully) helpful videos on planning courses for MapRun. Note that the map used by competitors would be produced in PurplePen in the usual way.

When the control sites are easily seen on Google Earth, is it very easy to plot the course. This is likely to be doable for Hare and Squirrel at JOG, for instance.

When saving the kml file, please use the naming convention 'event course PXAC'. eg. Lydeard Hill JOG 2020 Hare PXAC.kml The PXAC tells the app that it's a linear course - if it is a score use PXAS.

A few tips for good virtual control sites that are easy to use:

  • path crossings
  • distinctive trees
  • lamposts / telegraph poles / pylons
  • signposts

For tall things, make sure you put the pin at the base. Often a shadow will be on the image which will help.

A slightly more technically advanced method using a smartphone in the field, but this allows you to get a fix on any control site that has a good enough GPS line of sight (and if it doesn't, it won't work for a virtual course anyway).

A kmz file is needed to provide an orienteering map on the app.

You will need an image file of the map, eg. png or jpg, to get started.

Once you have a kmz, it can help with plotting courses if imported into Google Earth as you can simply drop pins onto features on the map.

Once you have output the course as a kml file and the map as a kmz file, there are two more steps to create a CheckSites code that will let you check the course works.

First you have to tile the kmz using MapRun Utils. Then you have to create the test event using CheckSites.

For more information on how to use the code to check the course, see Controlling for MapRun.

If producing the CheckSites code is too difficult, email the kml and kmz (or pdf if you can't make a kmz) to and you will get a CheckSites code back, hopefully within a few days but that depends on workload.

Archived under: Event resources