Although the details will vary according to the type or “level” of event (low-key “Local” event, inter-club league “Regional” event, regional or national championships, etc), the basic pattern remains similar.

Your first port of call will be at Registration, or if you need questions answering, perhaps at Enquiries – at small events these may be one and the same. Once you have decided on your course, you will usually fill in a form with a few details and pay an entry fee. As a newcomer, you will probably also need to borrow a timing chip (or “SI card” – we can show you how to use it). 

SI cards are often referred to as “dibbers” because they are used a bit like a gardener’s dibber, pushing the tip into a hole in the SI control box.

Note that since COVID, more events require on-line pre-entry – this will be stated in the published details before the event. We are allowing “entry on the day” (EOD) for our Saturday Series; at larger events, pre-entry is quite common, so please check.

Once you’ve entered and got your timing chip, you can go to the start. Here you first need to insert your SI card into the control box marked “Clear” and then the one marked “Check” (this one may be held by the start official). You may need to wait a short time to start your course as there is always a gap between starts to avoid people simply following each other.

And you’re off… don’t forget to “punch” the Start box, or you won’t get a time at the end! Now navigate round the course, punching each of your controls in sequence, to the finish (punch that too!).

We still talk about “punching” a control even though the old control card and pin-punch system was largely replaced by electronic timing almost 20 years ago!

Finally, you must, must go to Download (at a small event, that may be the same as the Registration desk you went to earlier). Here all the timing records on your SI card will be downloaded onto our computer and you will get a print-out showing your time at each control.

If you don’t go to Download, we won’t know you’re safely back, and we’ll probably end up sending out a search party. You also won’t get a time, and you may be leaving with one of our SI cards – which are quite expensive, so we’ll be wanting it back!

With any luck you will find other people who have done the same course and you can compare notes – everyone has their “if only” moment somewhere on a course!