Trail Running
Mountain Biking

New to Open5 events?

How It Works 1Introduction

An Open5 is an Adventure Racing style event where you visit as many controls as you can by bike and on foot within a 5 hour time limit. You navigate to each control location using an OS map, given to you at registration, with pre-printed controls on it (see example map extract on the right). Each control is assigned a value and you will be given a control sheet at the start (see example extract on the right). But beware – some controls are not live, so you can’t completely plan your route before you start! The winner is the person who has collected the most points. You can make the event as hard or as easy as you like as there are no fixed routes. You can either run or bike first – it’s up to you – as long as you collect at least one bike control and one run control.

The events are usually held in areas which provide a good challenge for beginners as well as regulars. We like to select interesting locations which have natural beauty for our events. Controls are located on paths and tracks of mixed-terrain and self-navigational around your chosen route is a key aspect. The emphasis is on having a fun day out at your own pace.

Your first Open5 event

We do try and keep things simple but invariably we get a good number of questions before events and on the day from those new to this kind of events. This little article will take you step by step through the day.

Before the event:

How It Works 1Even if you are local to the event it will invariably be an early start on the Sunday morning. It’s a good idea to sort out your kit well before the weekend. Do you have all of the mandatory kit listed in the event rules? First Aid kit, Whistle, etc.

What about your bike? If you are going to get it serviced don’t do it in the week before the event or if you do make sure you take it out for a few hours off road before the day. If you need to hire a bike give us a shout at Tri-Adventure and we can often point you in the direction of a hire company that can deliver to the event.

Sleep well.

The morning:

How It Works 1Time whizz’s by so we recommend you arrive early. Park your car and come to registration. At registration you will receive a double sided A4 map, running / MTB numbers, and an electronic device called a Sportident (SI) dibber which is attached to your wrist.

The SI dibber is used to record when you started, finished and which control points you visited on the event. If you find yourself competing in number of similar events each year, you can buy a SI dibber from

The map we issue has a Ordnance Survey (OS) 1:50000 map on one side with the MTB controls (points you have to visit) already pre-printed. On the other side is an OS 1:25000 map with the foot controls pre-printed.

How It Works 1Disappear back to your car to collect your bike and any kit you might need for the day, food, drinks, clothing, spare shoes. Occasionally the start is right beside the car park so you can leave stuff in the car, on other occasions the start is a short cycle away so you might need to be able to carry anything you might need at the transition e.g. running shoes, extra food, etc.

The start:

How It Works 2The start is indicated on the map with a red triangle, it will also double up as the transition between the bike and run. The transition will have a taped off area for your bike and kit and a marshal is in attendance throughout the event. Although we can’t guarantee the security of your kit we do select locations that can be easily monitored throughout the day.

If you have not decided already you will now need to make up your mind as to whether you run or MTB first. We can’t advise which is the best, as it depends on your strengths; we have had winners using both approaches.

What you should realise is that once you have completed either the run or the MTB stage and passed through the transition you can’t go back to it later. (e.g. you can not run then MTB then back to run)

How It Works 2

You can then start when you like.

When you are ready to start you will then punch the start control and your five hours begins. The aim is to visit as many of the controls as you can. As you pass the start line a marshal will hand you a list of control descriptions for the run and the MTB. Each control has a value (usually from 5 – 50) however some are not worth anything, they don’t exist so be sure to mark these on your map (a fine line OHP permanent marker is handy for this).

The control descriptions look something like this…

How It Works 2

The description is split in two – the first half lists the broad location of the control; always referring to a feature identifiable on the map. The second half identifies the precise location of the control.

During the race you need to make decisions about which route to take and how long to spend on the bike or on foot. A couple of hints – we design the course so that the fastest competitors may just clear it. So, unless you’re a whippet look at the map and decide how many controls you intend to collect with this in mind.

How It Works 2The transition:

No doubt you will fly back in to transition either on your bike or on foot like a gazelle, hankering for more. A lot of time can be lost in the transition it is definitely a black hole for time. Make sure you eat and drink something – you won’t make five hours even at the most moderate pace unless you do.

On the way out of the transition you will need to punch the ‘transition out’ control box.

The finish:

How It Works 2If you find yourself going over the five hours you will start incurring penalties and will start loosing all those hard earned points so if its your first event plan to come back early. Competitors are generally a lot happier if they leave the day thinking they could have done more rather than they did too much.

Don’t forget to punch the finish box as you pass under the finish line.

Take five minutes and a good guzzle of some fluid.


How It Works 3Before you go too far (e.g. back to your car) pop in to registration and download your SI dibber, you can grab a cup of tea or coffee whilst you are there. We usually arrange to have a catering at our events, so think about eating some food too.

If you don’t download we will assume you are still out on the course, and hence if you are late we will start getting worried. So it’s imperative that you download as soon as you can…

Prizes and results:

As soon as all of the competitors are back we have a short prize giving for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd usually around 4.00pm. Results will be pinned up on the wall for all to scrutinise before you go home. They will also be on our web page within 12 hours of the last finisher – more often earlier.

After the event:

So it has been your first event – we hope you have enjoyed it. No doubt you will be using the terms “if only…” Well no doubt another Open5 event will just be around the corner, this time you will be better prepared…


If this is your first event or you are looking at competing in a Open5 and would like to see a copy of a previous event map and control description send us an email to