The colour code for an orienteering course tells you what kind of difficulty and length to expect – along the lines of Judo belts, or Ski runs. GMOA colour codes pretty much follow national conventions, with two exceptions: White courses, strictly, should have a control at every junction/decision point, but some of our parks simply have too many paths; Yellow courses should strictly keep to paths, like White, but some of our parks don’t have enough paths, so you may have to cross some grass.
White is the easiest level of course, suitable for young beginners. Controls are fairly close together, and usually at path junctions, or junctions of paths and streams or walls; distance is typically 1-1.5km; the best route should be obvious, along paths, and require very few decisions.
Yellow is slightly longer and harder than White. Controls may be further apart, and are placed at junctions or obvious features; distance is typically 1-2.5km; the best route should be relatively obvious, but not necessarily along paths.
Orange courses are of medium difficulty and distance, suitable for adult beginners – controls may be 50m from paths, and reading map detail such as contours may be necessary; distance is typically 2-3.5km; you may have several choices of route – some of which may be across terrain rather than along paths.
Red, or Long Orange, is the same intermediate standard as Orange, but is longer – typically 3.5-6km.
Light Green is the easier end of difficult courses – controls may be on small features and contour shapes away from paths, but there will be a catching feature to stop you going too far if you miss it. Lengths are typically 2-4km.
Green is the shortest length of full technical difficulty courses. Controls can be on any feature, anywhere on the map. Lengths are typically 3.5-4.5km.
Blue is the middle length of full technical difficulty courses. Controls can be on any feature, anywhere on the map. Lengths are typically 4.5 – 6.5km.
Brown is our longest length of full technical difficulty courses. Controls can be on any feature, anywhere on the map. Lengths are typically 6.5k upwards.
The purple circles tell you other things about the orienteering available:
- Ch is for Wheelchairs. Wheelchair courses are typically White courses where the path surfaces are suitable for wheelchairs; controls are visible from the paths; lengths are typically 1-1.5km.
- SL is for Stars and Loops (see discussion on the Orienteering page). Star and Loop courses are where the group leader chooses a central base, and sends the students out to collect a single control, or pair of controls, and then return to base. They are particularly suitable for very young beginners.
- S is for Score and is always present. Score courses are where you visit as many controls as you can, in any order you choose, usually within some kind of time limit – or see who can visit all the controls in the shortest time.
- MR is for MapRun. MapRun courses use your mobile phone or smart watch, running the MapRun app, to track you round the course and tell you when you have reached each control. See discussion on the Smartphones page.