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 A-meets, you run in your competitive age class (award-eligible) or an open class (all ages). Distances shown are for national competitions.

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 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 for women, both requiring optimum mental and physical conditioning.

Course Navigational Difficulty Terrain Distance (kilometers) Winning Time (Minutes) USOF Competitive Classes
White Beginner Trails 2–3 25–30 M−10, M−12, F−10, F−12
MF-White, Gr-White
Yellow Advanced
Mostly trails 3–5 35–40 M−14, F−14, M-Yellow,
F-Yellow, Gr-Yellow
Orange Intermediate Off-trail 4.5–7 50–55 M−16, F−16, M-Orange,
F-Orange, Gr-Orange
Brown Advanced Cross-country 3–5 45–50 M65+, M70+, M-Brown,
F−18, F50+, F55+, F60+,
F65+, F70+, F-Brown
Green Advanced Cross-country 4.5–7 50–55 M−18, M50+, M55+, M60+,
F−20, F35+, F40+, F45+,
M-Green, F-Green
Red Advanced Cross-country 6–10 60–65 F−21+, M−20, M35+, M40+,
M45+, M-Red
Blue Advanced Cross-country 8–14 75–80 M−21+


Notes about USOF competitive classes:

  • F = female, M = male, Gr = group
  • The number denotes age on Dec. 31 of the year of the event. 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.
  • The following classes are open to any age: MF-White, all Group (GR) classes, and all classes designated with a course color (e.g., F-Green).

*Information via Bay Area Orienteering Club