2009 BAOC Trail-O Training Series

Trail-O is a very interesting form of orienteering. Think of it as an opportunity to analyze a small piece of terrain in order to solve a puzzle the Course Setter has presented. No running, all mental, but not as easy as it might seem.

So you are saying to yourself, "How can I try this?".

Welcome to the BAOC Trail-O Training Series! In order to help prepare the club for the 2009 U.S. Trail-O Championships, which will be held by LAOC at Vasquez Rocks on December 5th, we will be presenting a series of short Trail-O training courses at a number of events this summer and fall.

The tentative plan is as follows:

   Date      Event         Course Setter
   Aug 23    Tamarancho    Gary Kraght
   Sep 19    Presidio      Dwight Freund
   Sep 27    Monte Bello   Nick Corsano
   Oct 25    Calero        Steve Beuerman
   Nov 7     Pacheco       Alex Finch

The Trail-O Training Series is free—so give it a try! You will be given a map with a control circle and control description. You stand at a viewing point. In front of you will be 3–5 bags in the field. All you have to do is indicate on your punch card which bag is the one in the center of the circle. "None of the above" may also be the answer. Each training course will have 3–4 controls.

Some things to keep in mind for Trail-O:

What is not mapped is often as important as what is mapped. Features too small to be included by the mapper can make it harder to match up map with terrain.
The solution may involve using vegetation, features, and/or contours to narrow down the answer.
Look everywhere, not just at the control markers. Relative positions of some features, even at a distance from the markers, can provide valuable clues.

Normally, a trail orienteering course is constructed so that it can be completed by people in wheelchairs, but this may not be possible on our training courses.

The training courses are free, untimed, and unscored. This is your chance to start to get a feel for what Trail-O is about.

Hone your ability to compare your map to a piece of terrain in front of you. This can help you in regular Foot-O when you are searching for a control point, running through an area requiring fine navigation, trying to relocate, or selecting control sites as a course setter. Some of the best at Foot-O turn out to be the best at Trail-O. I don't think that is a coincidence.

So improve your map/terrain reading skills, and have some fun at the same time. Be sure to try the Trail-O training courses! Then for a real treat, make plans to travel south in December for the U.S. Trail Orienteering Championships.

BAOC Event Coordinator

I was looking around the web to find a guide to doing Trail-O with more detail. The closest I came to is the IOF Guidelines for setting Trail-O courses (http://www.orienteering.org/i3/index.php?/iof2006/document_library/rules_and_guidelines/trail_orienteering). I think it has some useful information for competitors as well. I've found in regular orienteering that setting courses helped me understand what a course setter is trying to get the competitor to do.

Jeff Lanam