A course with "forked" controls is one where there are two or more alternatives for control locations on a given leg of the course. For example, it might be that some runners have control 301 as their first control on the course, but others have control 302 (in a different location) on their course. In this case, the first leg would be called a forked leg (or forked control).
Forked legs are often used in mass-start events (like a relay) so that participants cannot blindly follow one another. Usually, the different controls on a forked leg are somewhat near each other, and every effort is made so that someone running one of the forks encounters about the same level of physical and navigational difficulty as someone running the other fork.
Often, in a relay, there is more than one forked leg, so that you never know whether someone you just punched a control at the same time as is now heading to the same place as you are. For example, the lead-off runners on a relay might have a course where there are two first controls (let's call them 1a and 1b) and two second controls (2a and, yup, 2b), but a common third control for everyone. Then, some runners will be sent to 1a–2a–3, some to 1a–2b–3, some to 1b–2a–3, and others to 1b–2b–3. Obviously, no one gets their clue sheets in advance, so you don't know who might be going through the same sequence as you are. (Similar schemes involving forked legs have been used in BAOC sprint tournaments.)
A variation on the theme of a forked leg — which BAOC has used in the Golden Goat, for example — is where all runners have BOTH alternatives of a forked leg marked on their maps, and they can choose which one to go to. This is a way of providing extra route choice on the course.
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