What Courses and Competitive Classes Are Offered?
Orienteering has seven standard courses, shown below. At local recreational meets, you may do any course that's within your navigational and physical abilities. At National Events (previously known as A-meets), you run in your competitive-age class (award-eligible) or an open class (all ages; not award-eligible). Distances shown below are for national competitions. In the Bay Area, due to our steep terrain, course lengths are usually shorter.
In general, beginner courses are on or near trails (or other linear features, like fences), and you look for large, distinct features, such as trail junctions or hilltops. The intermediate course is intended to provide controls with two (or more) route choices: a direct route that requires navigation skills, and a navigationally easier, but longer, route along "handrails". The four advanced courses all have the same level of navigational difficulty (looking for small point features, such as boulders or lone trees), but differ in their distance and climb. Blue is the "elite" course for men, and Red is the "elite" course for women, both requiring optimum mental and physical conditioning.
- If you are used to road or trail running, our distances can be misleading. The actual distance covered on a course is usually longer (as much as 1.5–2 times the stated course distance), because the stated distance is measured “as the crow flies” from control to control. (At Sprint events, however, the stated course length is supposed to represent the actual distance one would cover.)
- Also note that there can be significant climb as well, which will be stated in the event information. The climb is measured as the actual climb, without regard for descent, that will be experienced on the "optimum" route.
- Event information generally includes Course Setter's Notes (sometimes posted only days before the event), which provide detailed information about the courses. Be sure to read them.
|OUSA Competitive Classes
(age-based & open)
|White||Beginner||Trails||2–3||20–30||F−10, F−12, M−10, M−12
|Mostly trails||3–5||25–40||F−14, M−14
|Brown||Advanced||Cross-country||3–5||40–50||F−18, F55+, F60+, F65+, F70+, F75+, F80+, F85+, F90+
M65+, M70+, M75+, M80+, M85+, M90+
|Green||Advanced||Cross-country||4.5–7||45–55||F−20, F35+, F40+, F45+, F50+
M−18, M50+, M55+, M60+
|Red||Advanced||Cross-country||6–10||60–75||F−21+, M−20, M35+, M40+, M45+
- The Winning Times shown are for "100-point" runners on "Classic" courses. Times for mere mortals will be longer, and times could be different for other types of courses.
- Explanation of the Orienteering USA (OUSA) Competitive Classes:
- F = female, M = male
- The number denotes age on Dec. 31 of the year of the event (put another way, subtract birth year from current year). A minus or plus indicates no age limit on that side. For example, M–12 is open to boys aged 12 and under, while F35+ is open to women aged 35 and older.
- Classes designated with a course color (e.g., M/F-White, F-Green) are open to any age.
- The official course/class structure is in the OUSA rules (https://orienteeringusa.org/about/rules/) (currently in section A39).