What sort of courses are there?

Most orienteering events provide courses for all levels of experience, physical ability and technical difficulty. Competitions for orienteering on foot are organised in various formats:

Cross Country:
The most common form of competition where competitors make their way from control to control in a set order, but selecting their own route as they go. The various ways in which courses are graded are listed below

Points values are allocated to each control site. Within a given time (typically 60 minutes) a competitor tries to accumulate as many points as possible by visiting controls in any order. Late return to the finish incurs penalty points deducted from the score

Teams (of typically 3 or sometimes 4 runners) compete against each other for the fastest team time, usually over cross country courses. The first runner of a team will complete a course and return to the finish/start to release the second runner to do a course and so on.

N.B. The following table shows the situation before a recent extending of the range of possible courses, but the general principles still apply.

ColourLengthDifficultyExpected range of finish times
White 1.0 - 1.5 km. 1 15 - 35 mins.
Yellow 1.5 - 2.5 km. 2 25 - 45 mins.
Orange 2.5 - 3.5 km. 3 35 - 60 mins.
Red 3.5 - 7.5 km. 3 45 - 90 mins.
Purple 7.5 + km. 3 65 - 105 mins.
Light Green 2.5 - 3.5 km. 4
35 - 60 mins.
Green 3.5 - 5.0 km. 5 45 - 75 mins
Blue 5.0 - 7.5 km. 5 55 - 90 mins.
Brown7.5 + km. 5 65 - 105 mins
Black10.0 + km. 5 75 - 120 mins

DifficultyRoutes, Extent of Choice and Location of Control Sites
1 •Route along tracks/paths. No choice.
•Control placed at every decision point.
•Controls on paths, tracks - junctions, crossings & bends or features on paths (bridges, gates etc.)
2 •Route along obvious line features, without route choice.
•Controls fairly close together on a line feature being followed. or on
obvious other features close to the line feature with the kite visible therefrom.
•No more than two decision points between each control.
3 •Control can be on any line feature.
•Controls can also be on prominent point or contour features easily found from an attack point on a line feature, and with a collecting feature close behind.
•Simple route choices.
4 •Controls on any feature not requiring map reading through complex contour detail and with a collecting feature behind.
route choices.
•Controls on any feature, particularly needing careful map reading to locate. Kite must not be
hidden and relocating features should be relatively near.
•Significant route choices and varied distances between controls.
•Require regular changes in technique.

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