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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.


Course Navigational
Terrain Distance
Winning Time
OUSA Competitive Classes
(age-based & open) 
White Beginner Trails 2–3 20–30 F−10, F−12, M−10, M−12
Yellow Advanced
Mostly trails 3–5 25–40 F−14, M−14
F-Yellow, M-Yellow
Orange Intermediate Off-trail 4.5–7 35–50 F−16, M−16
F-Orange, M-Orange
Brown Advanced Cross-country 3–5 40–50 F−18, F55+, F60+, F65+, F70+, F75+, F80+, F85+, F90+
M65+, M70+, M75+, M80+, M85+, M90+
F-Brown, M-Brown
Green Advanced Cross-country 4.5–7 45–55 F−20, F35+, F40+, F45+, F50+
M−18, M50+, M55+, M60+
F-Green, M-Green
Red Advanced Cross-country 6–10 60–75 F−21+, M−20, M35+, M40+, M45+
Blue Advanced Cross-country 8–14 70–80 M−21+