“How to orienteer” info card


Hej! It’s been long since I used this blog. From today on, the “How to orienteer” info card is available for download (PDF 930KB) from the following URL:

http://bit.ly/HOWTOORIENTEER (opens in a new window)

You can download and use the file for free in private and where the activity is not charged. In which case the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License applies: (please quote Raphael Mak as author)

Creative Commons License

You must pay a license fee for its use if you are using it at a charged activity. Charged activity includes but is not limited to: public courses, training, competitions, books, magazines.

The license fee is:

  • HKD 15 / SEK 20 per copy printed if printed by yourself / used online
  • HKD 20 / SEK 30 per hard copy (folded card) sent to you if you prefer

Payment is by:

  • In HKD: PayPal to raphaelmak@gmail.com, or email me to ask for bank account details
  • In SEK: PayPal to oresaasia@gmail.com, or Swish

Please inquire through either of the above emails if you need. Happy orienteering!

Website revamp

Music, Orienteering, Raphael Mak - myself, raphaelmak.com


I’m refocusing on music now and my website is being revamped in a similar way. Information on orienteering are relocated to either www.o-resa.asia (Swedish/English) or www.metoc.com.hk (Chinese/English). I will still be writing both music and orienteering stuff here until some point in the future when I might separate my music and orienteering blogs.

Meanwhile, check out my offer to write music here on Fiverr, and spread the word!

Proposal for a new orienteering interschool system (Hong Kong)


Everything written in this proposal are purely of my own personal opinion and not related to, or sanctioned by, any other club or organisation. Discussion is welcome and any coincidental or intended adoption of the proposal is even more welcome. In any case, this proposal is purely motivated by a desire to improve the state of school orienteering in Hong Kong, and above all, I do not deserve to gain the enmity of anyone because of this proposal.


Problems are observed with the current interschool competitions. Nowadays, these competitions are often poorly designed and organised, and congested with competitors, which affects the fairness and legitimacy of these competitions. Moreover, elite schools are able to field large teams, thus taking the bulk of the rank points and scooping up most of the prizes, while schools with a few high-performance orienteers have little chance to challenge a prize. The interschool system thus needs a overhaul to save it from being a mere showdown between a few schools, or worse, a farce. The system also needs to steer away from the focus on forest orienteering, and promote other formats and disciplines, in order to foster the development of holistic orienteers.


  1. To bring the system more in line with other interschool sports competed in Hong Kong, taking reference from the HKSSF system in Athletics (where a qualification from District events to Elite events is already in place)
  2. Emphasising quality over quantity, decentralising “power” from a few elite schools with large teams (so-called “people-sea strategy”), allowing more schools to compete for team prizes
  3. Fostering a culture of smaller, closely-knit school teams, preferred over today’s often large, loose teams
  4. Ensuring the fairness of events by reducing congestion in the competition area
  5. Making team results reflect performance, not team size
  6. Rewarding effort made by individual runners
  7. Placing attention on a more holistic set of formats; diversion from the forest-orienteering-only mindset of the past
  8. Promote Trail Orienteering in schools to breed potential new stars, and support the development of Trail-O in Hong Kong

Key points

  • Renaming the events: Interschool District and Interschool Elite (Objective 1)
  • Reducing the number of competitors in the Elite event (Final) (Objectives 2, 3, 4)
  • Reducing the rank points awarded: from today’s 40 ranks to 8 ranks (Objectives 1, 2, 3, 5)
  • Introducing standard points for all runners within 2x time of winner (Objectives 1, 6)
  • Removing the minimum requirement of started competitors for team ranking (Objective 2, 5)
  • New Sprint event (Objective 7)
  • New Relay events (Objective 3, 7)
  • New Trail-O interschool series (Objectives 7, 8)
  • Team results to be based on the sum of points earned in all formats within the same discipline (Objective 7)
  • Should Mountain Bike Orienteering gain traction in Hong Kong in the future, the system can be expanded to a new MTB-O series (Objective 7)

Interschool District (currently JSOC Heats)

Sprint Middle Sprint Relay Middle Relay Pre-O TempO Trail-O Relay Team results[1]
HKI Unlimited runners

10 to Elite event
4 prizes[2]

Unlimited runners

10 to Elite event
4 prizes

To be implemented once participation in the Elite events exceed 30 runners (individual)/15 teams (relay) for each format.

Once implemented, qualification to Elite event is first 10 runners (individual)/5 teams (relay) in each District.

Sum of all points in Sprint + Middle in all grades
Kowloon Unlimited runners

10 to Elite event
4 prizes

Unlimited runners

10 to Elite event
4 prizes

Sum of all points in Sprint + Middle in all grades
NT Unlimited runners

10 to Elite event
4 prizes

Unlimited runners

10 to Elite event
4 prizes

Sum of all points in Sprint + Middle in all grades
Sample date Week 45 Saturday Week 45 Sunday (Week 43 Saturday) (Week 43 Sunday) (Week 41 Saturday AM) (Week 41 Saturday PM) (Week 41 Sunday)  


HKI Kowloon NT
Rank points Standard points Qualifies for Elite event Rank points Standard points Qualifies for Elite event Rank points Standard points Qualifies for Elite event
1st 9 1 Yes 9 1 Yes 9 1 Yes
2nd 7 1 Yes 7 1 Yes 7 1 Yes
3rd 6 1 Yes 6 1 Yes 6 1 Yes
4th 5 1 Yes 5 1 Yes 5 1 Yes
5th 4 1 Yes 4 1 Yes 4 1 Yes
6th 3 1 Yes 3 1 Yes 3 1 Yes
7th 2 1 Yes 2 1 Yes 2 1 Yes
8th 1 1 Yes 1 1 Yes 1 1 Yes
9th 1 1 1
10th 1 1 1
11th 1 1 1
1 1 1
Winner’s time x 2 1 1 1
(unlimited participation)

Interschool Elite (currently JSOC Final)

Sprint Middle Sprint Relay[3] Middle Relay Foot-O Team results Pre-O TempO Trail-O Relay[4] Trail-O Team results
30 qualified runners

4 prizes

30 qualified runners

4 prizes

4 in a team

1 team per school
4 prizes

3 in a team

1 team per school
4 prizes

Sum of all points in all 4 events in all grades Unlimited runners
4 prizes
Unlimited runners
4 prizes
3 in a team

1 team per school
4 prizes

Sum of all points in all 3 events in all grades
Sample date Week 5 Satuday Week 5 Sunday Week 6 Saturday Week 6 Sunday   Week 18 Saturday AM Week 18 Saturday PM Week 18 Sunday  


Individual events Relay events
Rank points Standard points Rank points Standard points
1st 9 1 18 1
2nd 7 1 14 1
3rd 6 1 12 1
4th 5 1 10 1
5th 4 1 8 1
6th 3 1 6 1
7th 2 1 4 1
8th 1 1 2 1
9th 1 1
10th 1 1
11th 1 1
1 1
Winner’s time x 2 1 1

Organisational arrangements

Due to the huge undertaking involved in the making of the new system, new organisational arrangements are needed. Three options are presented here:

Option 1: retaining the School Orienteering Group with expanded membership

In this option, the School Orienteering Group will be retained as today. However, the workload of the School Orienteering Group will increase greatly and it is doubtful whether the new work can be accomplished by the current group’s size.

A solution would be to expand membership to all school clubs affiliated/associated with OAHK, with one representative from each club sitting in the group. However, a constitutional (M&A) amendment will be required on the part of OAHK.

Option 2: devolving the School Orienteering Group to a new affiliated club

In this option, the School Orienteering Group will be devolved to a new affiliated club, with a name similar to the present Joint School Orienteering Association. The new club shall be tasked with (and only with) coordinating and organising all events in the new Interschool system. Each school club affiliated/associated with OAHK shall send in one student member and/or one teacher/coach member (i.e. one or two representatives) to the club board, failure of which the school shall not be allowed to join any interschool orienteering competitions. Members of the club board shall act as Persons-In-Charge (PICs) of the events.

The new club shall have a special status in that all OAHK-sanctioned interschool events will be, and only be, entrusted to this club. This is similar to a public organisation owned by the government but ran as a limited company.

As an affiliated club of OAHK, the new club may send one representative to sit in OAHK council meetings and participate in other committees of OAHK.

Each school wishing to join any events in the interschool system are required to send in at least one student, teacher or coach as helper(s) in those event(s). Failure to do so will lead to a ban from participation.

This option is advantageous in that it is the closest to the HKSSF’s system of convenors and committees for all of its sports. In addition, event organisation manpower can be trained among schools.

The fate of the original School Orienteering Group may be subject to one of the following sub-options:

  • Option 2A: The School Orienteering Group is retained as-is. The School Orienteering Group acts as the executive body of the new interschool club, and the two institutions shall communicate closely to materialise the events in the interschool system. No OAHK constitutional amendment is needed. A major disadvantage is possible clumsy decision making arising from communication problems.
  • Option 2B (preferred option): The School Orienteering Group is coterminous with the subset of the interschool club board containing all the latter’s members eligible to sit in the Group. Per current OAHK M&A, this means all full members of OAHK affiliated clubs (not of associated clubs, nor any student/associate member) on the interschool club board, plus the elected School Orienteering Secretary. The School Orienteering Club is thus the “executive council” of the interschool club, deciding major decisions of the club with practical considerations delegated to the larger club board. The School Orienteering Secretary is made the chairperson of the interschool club automatically, by constitutional arrangement of the club. No OAHK constitutional amendment is needed. This option is best in balancing efficiency and procedural justice.
  • Option 2C: The School Orienteering Group is adjourned sine die, thus no longer carrying out any actual function. The School Orienteering Secretary is made the chairperson of the interschool club automatically, by constitutional arrangement of the club. Two other full members of OAHK affiliated clubs (whether from the interschool club board or not) shall be appointed as nominal members to satisfy the OAHK constitutional requirement (i.e. three full members). No OAHK constitutional amendment is needed. This option is the most efficient but may also raise eyebrows.
  • Option 2D: The School Orienteering Group is dissolved. The School Orienteering Secretary is made the chairperson of the interschool club by its constitutional arrangement. OAHK constitutional amendment is needed to remove references to the School Orienteering Group.

Option 3: “Open market” option; clubs bid for competitions

Under this option, all affiliated and associated clubs of OAHK will be eligible to apply for co-organisation of any interschool event, subject to a programme and schedule decided by the School Orienteering Group. The School Orienteering Group is retained as-is, and shall be responsible for accepting co-organisation applications (“bids”) from clubs, for deciding the programme and schedule of the interschool events, and for codifying the rules and regulations of the interschool events to be implemented by the co-organising clubs. This option is the most laissez-faire and involves the least administrative hassle, yet contradicts the spirit of interschool sports as mutual decision making by participating schools, and while closer to the current OAHK system of event organisation, is too far removed from the HKSSF system.

Summary of organisational arrangements

Having considered the details of the options above, Option 2B (coterminous School Orienteering Group – interschool club board arrangement) is the most feasible while meeting the spirit of interschool sports and achieving the objectives of the new system.

University orienteering

An inter-university series for tertiary students may be arranged using the programme specified in the “Interschool Elite” section above, either together with the Interschool Elite events or separately, with unlimited participation in individual events and 1 team per school in relay events (standard mixed gender teams for Sprint Relay). The scoring and prize system is the same as the Interschool Elite events.


[1] Grade and overall team prizes will be awarded only at an all-events-sum basis, i.e. no separate Sprint/Middle team prizes. 4 team prizes for each grade and overall.

[2] 4 prizes are awarded in line with HKSSF practice: gold, silver, bronze, iron

[3] The Sprint Relay will be of a gender-separate nature with all men’s and all women’s teams, different to the IOF standard which is a mixed gender relay. Rationale: difficulties to unisex schools if mixed gender relay adopted.

[4] Trail-O Relay: one Pre-O course and one TempO course. Each of the 3 team members, in turns, completes exactly 1/3 (one third) of the Pre-O course in any order. Each of them will then complete one or two TempO stations each, with 4 tasks at each station.

The model of all indoor orienteering: Stockholm Indoor Cup


From time to time, the captioned competition turns up in orienteering websites and discussions. Yes, this is the Stockholm Indoor Cup, which has inspired orienteers around the world to organise similar events.

The competition usually takes place in a school: (note that in many Germanic languages the term gymnasium refers to a high school)


A few rules need to be observed:

  • All staircases are marked with orange plus a letter to identify them across all floors, e.g. the staircase K in the above map will bring you to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor.
  • The violet lines, which block the corridors in the map, must not be crossed, and they are taped exactly as it is (so no chance of accidental disqualification). (The hatched and solid violet areas, of course, are also out of bounds.) This makes the entire school a maze, and has the effect of lengthening the course plus throwing in a lot of fun.
  • Unidirectional arrows in orange are one way (2/F, near staircase G) are one-way, with one-way signs and “do-not-enter” sign posted onsite.
  • The green rectangles and squares are tables.
  • That the library shelves (2/F, the room that control 20 is in) are marked in grey, DOESN’T mean you can cross them like canopies in sprint maps.

Note that this school has the main entrance on 2/F. (1/F being the “basement” that is level with the ground outside)

The following is an illustration of how controls 3 to 4 can be tackled, using staircases L->K->E->G. (I lost upwards of 5 minutes on this leg, taking two full loops to get out of the error)

sthlm inomhus ilustration

A few more photos:

To be continued tomorrow (day 2).



Two Sprint WREs: Finland and Norway


Note (7 Oct 2017): title corrected (Sweden -> Norway)

As I start my composition study at the University of Gothenburg, I joined two sprint World Ranking Events within a week.

The first one (17 September 2017) was near Helsinki in a neighbourhood called Kannelmäki (Gamlas), with the qualifications in the morning and the finals in the afternoon. (On a minor note, they didn’t print the course description on the map)

20170917am Finnish SM-Sprint Piian Puisto route.jpg

I was still recovering from having caught a cold earlier but my running-shape was still great. Still, I was obviously not fast enough and had to compete in the B2 final.

20170917pm Finnish SM-Sprint Kannelmaki route.jpg

The event was fun with a number of route choice traps. Also, it seemed like a journey back in time using EMIT cards (Hong Kong having switched to SPORTident a few years ago). If there was one thing to complain, however, it would be that the units owned by Helsingin Suunnistajat had no indicator lights at all (except the clear unit)!


The second race (22 September 2017) was in Orkanger near Trondheim. This became the first time I went to Trondheim, as well as the first time I competed in Norway. Also, this was the first time I used the EMIT-tag touch-free technology (the other major touch-free system being SI-AIR+).

Orkanger 20170922 route.jpg

Too much hesitation on route choices!


Despite the cloud cover, it still feels pretty warm in the late afternoon.

Being the only Asian guy in both events was, needless to say, interesting!

Probably the orienteering event with the smallest area in the world 可能係世界上範圍最細嘅定向活動

MetOC, Orienteering, Sport

With the World Orienteering Day coming on 24 May this year, the Metropolitan Orienteering Club (MetOC) is going to organise (or more accurately re-enact) what is probably the orienteering event with the smallest area in the world in Kowloon Park.

How small is it? Well, to illustrate, I shall only have to use an excerpt from my SI Piece (that is, a music piece for SPORTident units) and a video of the premiere:

都會定向會將於世界定向日 (係五月廿四號、五月廿四號、五月廿四號呀,好重要所以要講三次) 喺九龍公園舉辦「可能係全世界範圍最細嘅定向活動」! 咁,究竟有幾細? 請睇以下小弟為定向打卡器而作嘅樂曲「譜」同埋首演錄影嘞:

SI Piece 1.png

Besides this, there is also a “slightly more normal” orienteering course — learn more at MetOC’s Facebook Page!


定向(最)基本功: Stop, Set Map, Select (停、正置地圖、選擇前進方向)

Orienteering, Orienteering coaching 定向教學, Orienteering Level 1

由今日開始我會喺度打一堆定向相關教學。因為諗住係淺白教學,用中文 (粵語) 打。

我敢講,做咗Stop, Set Map, Select之後,超過一半嘅錯誤 (mistakes) 都會消失。


首先: 停喺度 (夠進階嘅,又或者想訓練得勁啲嘅,可以原地踏步)

跟住就係戲肉: Set map (正置地圖)

set map.png即係要將地圖同實地對正咁解。如圖,地圖上小徑方向同實際小徑對準,池塘喺小徑右邊。記得對埋前後左右地形邊邊高,邊邊低呀 (睇等高線 — 唔識嘅話遲下再教)!

最後: 你要行邊邊? 睇你條紫色線 (賽程,course) 指向邊啦,記得諗好哂去下一個control (checkpoint,控制點) 先好行呀。

其實stop, set map, select唔止定向有用呀,平時出街唔識路都有用架,開住Google Map問路記得set咗map先好行呀! 唔好做路痴係咁盪失路啦!

(註: 以我所知外國教練好少咁樣一套教嘅,不過相傳 (聲明,只係相傳,小弟未能證實) 係由瑞典黎香港支援定向發展多年嘅Perola Olsson推廣stop, set map, select嘅全套教法嘅,所以香港嘅教練通常都會使用呢個教法。)

Stop, set map, select is the most basic technique in orienteering and can probably prevent over half of the mistakes in a race. Stop really means to stop, set map means to rotate and align the map to match the real world features as seen by the runner (e.g. in the above picture, note the direction of the path and the relative position of the pond; you should also note the terrain around you, shown by the contours on the map), and finally select the correct path to the next control.

It’s not just useful in orienteering — it’s useful when you’re on the street with Google Map’s help too!

The teaching of the stop, set map, select technique as a package was said to be championed by Perola Olsson, a Swede who helped a lot in the development of orienteering in Hong Kong. Coaches in Hong Kong thus teach the basic technique in this manner, emphasizing its importance in the orienteering process.

ISOM migration – v2000 to v2017

Maps, Orienteering, Sport

The biggest news in the orienteering world now is easily the official sanctioning of the newest successor to the International Specification for Orienteering Maps. ISOM 2017 will come into force on 1 May 2017, less than 3 weeks later; the transition period will end on 1 January 2018, at which point all forest (middle/long distance) events must use the new standard.

Although there are eight months left before you’ll be required to adopt the new standard, I strongly recommend you to make the transition from ISOM 2000 to ISOM 2017 as soon as possible – especially if you don’t have events to hold for the rest of April – by converting your maps to the newest symbol sets. OpenOrienteering Mapper has not updated its symbol sets yet; OCAD has released an update which is also compatible with OOM (use the zip package for OCAD11).

Of note, the ISOM 2017 document is licensed under CC-BY-ND-4.0, probably the first IOF map specification to be released under any Creative Commons license.

A crude sum-up of the biggest symbol changes (very crude so don’t punch me for inaccuracies):

ISOM 2017 vs ISOM 2000

Okay so you’ve decided to make the “small” step to convert your symbols (to accomplish the “great” step for orienteering) – you’ll soon find out the hard part being that the bulk of the symbols have their numbers changed! No worries – I’ve made the following correspondence guide below to help you. The ISOM 2000 set on the left is the default from OOM while the ISOM 2017 set is from the OCAD update.

ISOM2000to2017 p1ISOM2000to2017 p2ISOM2000to2017 p3ISOM2000to2017 p4ISOM2000to2017 p5ISOM2000to2017 p6

1. The discrepancies in decimal digits – being variants of the same symbol – are not significant and simply reflects differences in symbol handling between OOM and OCAD
2. Ignore the reversed directions of the cliffs and earth banks – again it stems from differences between OOM and OCAD
3. 521 Building – Black 65% is recommended for large buildings in urban areas. For small buildings or buildings in non-urban areas, the original black 100% can be used
4. 532 Grave – I wrote “custom symbol in Hong Kong” since it has been used with such frequency in Hong Kong, I speculate that the Orienteering Association might just decide to keep this as a special local usage. It is important to note that this symbol is gone from ISOM 2017 (from the 2015 draft onwards).

Last but not least, remember to factor in the transition when you coach orienteering – remind your students/cadets how the symbols will change in less than a year’s time!

Release of the ISSOM passability placard for public use

Maps, Orienteering

Today I am releasing the ISSOM passability placard, which adorns my sprint orienteering maps since 2015, for public use under the CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.

The license means, in short, that you are free to use the placard in any of your works as long as you attribute it to me (there’s an attribution in the files which you should keep) and use the same license to release the placard.

The placard describes which features are allowed to be crossed and which are not. It helps beginners identify passable and impassable features. Symbols are at 1:4000 scale.

ISSOM passability placard (600dpi)

Introducing the Orienteering Starter Pack

Orienteering, Uncategorized

Two days after I completed my first HK100 race, I am officially introducing the Orienteering Starter Pack.

It’s a long time idea which aims at allowing the starter to obtain a compass, whistle, and the means to acquire basic orienteering skills, all in one box easily acquirable, so that more people can be introduced to orienteering.

You can order your Starter Pack here: