Getting Started with MapRun: for Course Creators and Local Administrators

Getting Started with MapRun: for Course Creators and Local Administrators

First off, this is not going to be a step-by-step guide to creating a course in MapRun. There’s a lot of good information on the MapRun web site and linked videos, plus videos of the webinars (general and admin) presented by Pat MacLeod for British Orienteering, all of which will point you in the right direction to at least get started and know what questions to ask. Also, do consider joining the MapRun forum; there’s plenty of help available there too.

That said, the broad outline is as follows. MapRun needs two files:

  • a KML file, which defines the positions of the start, finish and controls, and
  • a KMZ file, which defines the map. Actually, this one is optional, but definitely “nice to have”. If you can’t get a map file in KMZ format, it won’t stop you having the course available to run using a paper map (lots of people prefer to run using a paper map anyway).

The KML file can be produced from OpenOrienteeringMap or Google Earth Pro. If you’re using Purple Pen with a georeferenced map, there’s an online tool at to convert a GPX export of the course to a KML (I have not tested this – the usefulness will depend on the absolute positional accuracy of the map features).

OpenOrienteeringMap is based on OpenStreetMap and is great for quickly producing urban courses in particular, although data can be patchy in both quality and completeness.

Google Earth Pro provides satellite imagery, which is fine as long as you can actually see your control features. You can also overlay a map in KMZ format. Using the control sites from such a map relies, as with the Purple Pen option described above, on the absolute positional accuracy of the features.

The KMZ file can be produced directly from OpenOrienteeringMap or OCAD (recent versions – 10 and later?). In OpenOrienteeeringMap there’s a button to click once you have saved your map. In OCAD it’s an export option.

It is also possible to get a KMZ file from an OpenOrienteeringMapper map, but this is more involved as the georeferencing system is different.

There are a few “traps for the unwary”, so this page will be updated from time to time with “learning experiences”. Here are some points to look out for.


  • keep a record of your course (event) IDs as you create them. One day you will want them and they rapidly become hard to find.
  • be aware that the “old” admin interface is on “” – if you miss that “p” at the beginning you won’t be able to log on (expect a “User does not exist” message)
  • avoid course (event) names that match the first part of another course name after removal of the course type flags (for example, “Smith Wood” and “Smith Wood West”). You may find that you can’t delete one of them if you need to (this is a server side bug that is now known and likely to be corrected at some point). Best practice in any case is to make a fully descriptive name for each course, including enough detail to ensure uniqueness, e.g. “Smith Wood 2020 medium” cannot conflict with “Smith Wood West 2020 medium”.
  • check any files you are sent for upload – meaning no offence to any of the course creators you work with, but the less experienced ones in particular may be unaware of some of the pitfalls, and anyway there are enough ways to trip up that two pairs of eyes are better than one… and you’re the one who will have to try to sort out any issues once the course has been uploaded 😉

Course creators:

  • make sure to save your control locations as a KML file from Google Earth. The default file type in the Save dialog is KMZ. If you save as KMZ you end up with your controls embedded within a KMZ. It can be put right without starting all over again but will likely cause errors later if left.
  • if you’re making a course in OpenOrienteeringMap, make sure to save a KMZ of the map while it’s still blank (with no added controls). Otherwise you’ll have doubled circles in the map on the app.
  • avoid putting controls in places where the GPS reception may have been thrown off, such as just after exiting a tunnel or wide bridge. The errors that arise in these situations can cause the control to be falsely missed.
  • place the finish away from any reasonable route from one control to the next – the app automatically stops the clock and ends the run when the finish is “punched” (which happens when the runner passes within a radius of usually around 10-15 metres).
  • use the CheckSites feature to “test run” your course. This will help highlight any control placement issues. Anyone can upload to CheckSites; you don’t need to be an administrator for this, and you can share the identifier so that others can run your course too (if you’re just looking to create a temporary course, this facility may be all you want!)