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Discussion: Blue Course Question

in: Orienteering; General

Jan 17, 2019 2:41 PM # 
Hello all! I'm new to orienteering, but have come from an ultra running background (30+ miles on trails). I happen to enjoy longer distances and noted that the longest courses offered in orienteering are blue. However, I have also noted that they seem to only be offered to men 21+. So is that saying that I couldn't sign up for that because I'm female? And if so, why is that the case (if you happen to know the answer).
Jan 17, 2019 3:05 PM # 
Women can definitely sign up for and run the blue course at most US events. It's certainly been done in the past and I don't know of any events that would disallow it. The M-21+ designation is part of a system of age classes used for determining awards but I would assume that if a woman were to win the blue course they'd get the award.

That said, if you really are new to orienteering I would encourage you to work your way up to blue as you master the navigation side of the sport.
Jan 17, 2019 3:08 PM # 
If you're in the US, you're definitely welcome to run Blue courses. Women do run them on occasion, but the designated course for women 21-34 is Red. Depending on the meet, you may be listed in the results in the men's category, or in a special category by yourself, but it doesn't matter.

(However, if you're new to orienteering, Blue may be more of an undertaking than you're ready for. )
Jan 17, 2019 3:39 PM # 
Another thing you might be interested in looking into is Rogaining, which tend to be events of longer duration that standard orienteering courses, on maps which typically aren't quite as detailed (usually less field checking because of the larger areas involved), but still involve lots of off-trail navigation on maps that are typically much more detailed than USGS topo maps. One big advantage from the learning standpoint, if you can locate a partner with similar running skills plus already well-developed navigational skills, is that they are usually team events, and can be one of the best ways to get on-the-go training instruction. There seem to be lots of 6-8 hour events around (the courses are "score-O" format, where you visit as many controls as you can, in any order, within a fixed time limit, rather than doing a specified set of controls in order as fast as you can), in addition to some shorter events, and a few events offering the traditional 24-hour time span.
Jan 17, 2019 4:47 PM # 
Thanks all! Great advice and info given.

Sandy and jjcote I am new this year to orienteering (I'm running orange currently) and just looking at 'what's next' as far as moving from orange to (Red, or Blue, etc.). Thanks for letting me know that I can indeed do Blue.

Eldersmith YES!!! I just happened to stumble upon Rogaining and it's what I'm looking at doing this summer! Just need to find the right partner. :-)
Jan 17, 2019 5:21 PM # 
Hooray! More ultra-running orienteerers! Welcome

Rogaining is awesome for ultra-running crossovers, as are goats, and ultra-long events.

Where are you physically, in case someone might want to partner up with you for a rogaine?
Jan 17, 2019 5:31 PM # 
hughmac - Thanks! Didn't know there were other ultra crazies here. I've done a few 6 and 12 hour ultras so rogaining definitely interests me!

I'm physically located in Georgia, USA.

Sadly, I don't see any events remotely close to me, but that's okay, as I am willing to travel! I am going to see if any local O clubs might be willing to host one (a girl can ask, right?).
Jan 17, 2019 6:11 PM # 
Well if you're doing well on Orange courses without getting lost, you're showing good technical ability (the skill of interpreting map markings into the 3-D terrain around you, and then using them to find the control feature). But it is still a large leap from Orange into the advanced courses of Brown, Green, Red and Blue. So plan your advancement conservatively.

One thing that makes that large leap easier, is choosing weil-orgainized events in fast, easily-read terrain. Here's the OUSA Orienteering schedule and the Rogaining schedule. Of the events listed for the Spring, I'd recommend you take a look at next month's SWSW in Arizona, the March Flying Pig weekend, and the May 12 Billygoat in New Hampshire. All of these should have good attendance, excellent organization and mapping, and runnable terrain where you could stretch out your legs.

There are certainly other O events offered this year that do not appear on these lists because they don't necessarily have OUSA sanctioning...but are fun, challenging and long. If you get to one of the events above, chat with others after your finish to get the scoop on these 'word-of-mouth' events. Despite all our technology, much O information is still communicated the old-fashioned way. :-)
Jan 17, 2019 6:51 PM # 
chitownclark - Thanks! I am lucky that I do have a very active local O club that has multiple meets per month. (I'm getting LOTS of practice with my skills!).

I checked the Rogaining schedule and see a few that I could do in the summer (I'm mostly looking at May through August) since my local O club stops running events during those months and I don't want to lose any forward momentum I have gained with the practice. Plus I am looking for some fun races to do this summer. I will ask around this weekend (I'll be at the GA Navigator, National O) and see if I can get some scoop on other events.
Jan 17, 2019 8:51 PM # 
Ghost Girl Have we got an event for you! Sunday April 14th at Citrus Forest near Inverness FL an 8 hour Rogaine which you can do solo if you wish in what I think is the most runner friendly forest south of the North Pole.
See more information here Bring your running friends and make a weekend of it.
Jan 17, 2019 10:44 PM # 
gordhun - WOOHOO!!!! Texting my running partner in crime as we speak. THANK YOU!!! ❤
Jan 17, 2019 11:08 PM # 
Since you know how to run, you might find a red/blue runner who would be willing to run a course with you and explain how it's done on the go. It speeds up the learning process a bunch (doesn't make it easy).
Jan 18, 2019 4:25 AM # 
Welcome to the orienteering scene! I was in a similar position to you some years ago - getting started on orange, chomping at the bit to get to longer courses. I think more than most endurance sports, orienteering requires precision. One bad control can ruin your race and disrupt your thinking.

Learning to play a musical instrument is a useful metaphor; while you can jump right in to trying to read an entire Beethoven Sonata in one go and hack your way through it, it's better to focus on executing lots of short passages well and stringing them together. Even if you have the fitness, trying to push through an entire blue course can become counterproductive if your navigation isn't going well.

As you transition to advanced courses, I would suggest focusing on having shorter races with good execution. I was fortunate to be in a very active club with weekly races. I suggest instead of running blue at first, run two or three of the shorter advanced courses. Maybe warm up on orange, then run the brown and green courses. Stop to analyze your races between them, and really focus on executing good technique. Maybe you pick one aspect to concentrate on and practice during each course, like knowing which direction to leave the control before you get there, and leaving in the correct direction. Since you have good fitness, your brain and technique will probably be the limiting factor.

Your club may vary, but I usually found that I could run two or three courses at one local race for the price of one entry.
Jan 18, 2019 6:08 AM # 
We have had ultra- and trail-runners come to our events, and despite being given well-meant advice to start on a shorter, easier course and work up from there, they've insisted on entering the longest course. 3-4 hours later, they've returned with less than half the controls, and then we've never seen them again. Good on you GhostGirl for going about it the right way!

PS While it may seem like the opposite of what you are looking for, give Sprint Orienteering a go. I guarantee you'll love it.
Jan 18, 2019 9:36 AM # 
GhostGirl - if rogaining is similar in US to Australia then there is quite a difference in map precision between orienteering and rogaining - pretty clear in the scale and precision of features required for control sites. You've probably nailed the "getting between controls" but the "in the circle" skills are defining... for a good experience.
Jan 18, 2019 10:51 AM # 
The first time I orienteered in North America, when I came back to Australia a youngster saw one of my maps and said "you went all that way to run a blue course"? (In those Australian states that use a colour system, the blue course is the shortest and easiest - equivalent of white in the US).
Jan 18, 2019 11:57 AM # 
Welcome to the sport!

As an m21 blue runner i would say all of the advice above is great. I would say I am of average fitness and average navigation ability, and when I run blue at A meets I am usually among the last finishers because it is a very competitive category. That can be a tough mental hurtle when at the local level I am typically near the top (on red).

I also don’t think anyone has pointed out that at A meets courses have a time limit (usually 3 hours for classic length) and despite the advertised distance (~10k) which seems readily doable in that time, a bad mistake or two can easily put me right on the edge of finishing on time.

Running multiple courses at local meets is a great way to improve your navigation and mental endurance as preparation for blue courses (if your club doesn’t offer them). I’d also add that volunteering for control pickup is another way to add some distance at a local meet.
Jan 18, 2019 12:48 PM # 
Hey Ghost, welcome to orienteering and to attackpoint! Lots of great advice above. A number of regular attackpoint users, myself and, I believe, KFish, included will be at the navigator cup this weekend. Come say hi in person if you like! I'll be the one chasing a two-year-old whenever I am not racing.
Jan 18, 2019 1:21 PM # 
iansmith, KFish - GREAT idea about multiple courses! Yes, our club has many courses that you can do that day, as long as you make the time cutoff. And it'll get me plenty of extra skills practice.

Tinytoes - Noted. I have days where I'm spot on top of the control, and days where I'm in the 'general vicinity'. But hey, that's what learning and practice is about.

BorisGr - I'd love to meet you guys! I'm volunteering on Saturday, running Sunday. I'll look for you via the 2 yr old. :-)

I'm super excited that you all have opened the door to many different ideas - THANK YOU!!!!
Jan 18, 2019 4:15 PM # 
Running along with more experienced orienteers is an excellent way to learn how they plan a leg or read subtle land features or extract information out of the map. These are skills you might otherwise take a long time to learn. It can be difficult to do this in a competition setting. However, the Billygoat and other goat-style races explicitly permit following and cooperative navigation. When I was able to run faster, doing this was a way to show me how fast I could move if I could figure out where I needed to go.
Jan 18, 2019 4:38 PM # 
Thanks, levitin! I actually had a mentor help me out the first few times. He helped me see what I should be looking for and how to plan my course. This newbie is thankful for his help and all the help I'm receiving along the way (including here!) I've still got a way to go and lots of practice still ahead, but loving the journey.
Jan 18, 2019 10:51 PM # 
GhostGirl, I’m also at the GNC and will try to say hi. I will be chasing a three year old, who will be likely be chasing BorisGr’s two year old.
Jan 18, 2019 11:50 PM # 
Cristina - LOL! Awesome! So if I look for 2 adults chasing small children, I'll find you. I'm easy to spot. Short girl with short cherry cola red hair - Volunteering on Saturday, running on Sunday AM. Would love to say Hi!
Jan 24, 2019 9:08 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
GhostGirl, if you manage to hook up with Cristina you will be in _very_ good hands indeed. She used to run for my club here in Oslo, Norway, so I know her well enough to know this. :-)
Jan 28, 2019 9:48 PM # 
Just joining this thread. I want to hear who met who at the GNC, what courses were tried, how they went, etc. GhostGirl, I hope you will continue to share your experiences as you build your skills. It is always a challenge for a good runner to slow down long enough to become a good orienteer before speeding up again. I do hope that you also gets bitten by the O travel bug--treated only by orienteering in some of the coolest places on the planet. I would highly recommend the SWSW in Arizona's Sonoran Desert in February. Though I have traveled the U.S. and the world to experience awesome orienteering sites and meet amazing people who love our sport, this one is at the top for its uniqueness. If not this year, then as soon as you are able to enjoy the longer courses and really get your money's worth!
Jan 28, 2019 11:14 PM # 
I am afraid this was another sad ending. Orienteering is a tough, unforgiving activity, full of pain and suffering. Especially that is true for women. Endurance is a key quality. But above all it requires unholy amount of CRITICAL THINKING, that that is what most adventure racers lack to truly enjoy this sport.
Jan 29, 2019 1:19 AM # 
GhostGirl, meet my friend yurets, who provides comic relief by always injecting pessimism. I've known him for over 20 years, and he's even more fun in person.
Jan 29, 2019 1:21 AM # 
In other words, GhostGirl, please ignore Yurets.

I want to know who you met and talked with (with or without toddlers) and what you learned.
Jan 29, 2019 2:06 AM # 
I met GhostGirl!
Jan 29, 2019 2:49 AM # 
Wait, you met GhostGirl? I didnt’t! Why didn’t you say something?!
Jan 29, 2019 1:10 PM # 
I met GhostGirl. You didn’t?
Jan 29, 2019 4:39 PM # 
MJChilds- Thanks for the advice! Yep, travel is on my list, I just need to get better at the O part. :-)

yurets and jjcote, - I'm a bulldog that never gives up. Endurance isn't an issue as I've grown to love the pain and suffering it brings. It lets me know that I'm alive and doing something that I'm passionate about.

maprunner Thanks! I met BorisGr, and I believe I saw Cristina in passing. She was parking and I was in the street (as a volunteer) helping to move people around and get them to the right place. I learned a LOT! I learned how you go about starting at a national meet. I also got to see some of the GPS loads afterward and saw how people chose their routes - VERY enlightening. I have a LOT to still learn, but looking forward to those lessons. I also loved seeing so many different runners of different ages and ethnicities - that was awesome!

Cristina - I think I saw you in passing, but I was volunteering and you were arriving, etc.

BorisGr - Yep! Was nice meeting you! Hopefully we'll meet again.

CharlieB - And you'll see me again, and again, and again at our upcoming meets. Looking forward to it!
Jan 29, 2019 11:00 PM # 
Different ethnicities? That's novel.
Jan 30, 2019 12:37 AM # 
jjcote: It was great to see so many demographic groups represented. It was nice to see everyone just enjoying the sport.
Jan 30, 2019 12:58 AM # 
I believe GhostGirl is not a person from the real world, "she" is a virtual persona,
AI, or a PR specialist. A few people who traveled to Georgia know this secret.
How did I figure it out? There are tiny, but telltale signs.
Jan 30, 2019 1:40 AM # 
Yep, you figured me out. I'm an AI. I needed to find a way to learn about human navigation, aka the old fashioned way. From here I will take over your planet.
Jan 30, 2019 1:44 AM # 
I think the tip is that everyone knows the proper way to spell the name is without the 'h'. It should be GostGirl.
Jan 30, 2019 11:18 AM # 
I meant that, at most orienteering meets in the US, what you have is a bunch of white folks. Just the way it is. If the GNC had more diversity, that's great.
Jan 30, 2019 1:01 PM # 
jjcote - It did! I agree, love the diversity!
Jan 31, 2019 3:58 AM # 
Part of GNC was Southeastern Interscholastic Champs. The High School JROTC teams bring more diversity than might be typical of a non-interscholastic meet elsewhere. But even among JJ's "white folks" there's a degree of cultural diversity - you can't go to a large meet and not hear Eastern European or Scandinavian languages in the parking lot or results area.

This discussion thread is closed.