Each control is worth a certain number of points. Maximise the number of points that you collect by visiting as many high-numbered controls in the assigned time. The assigned time is typically 40, 50 or 60 minutes depending on the course you are participating in.
There are penalties for being late back – 3 points per minute. Think about the maths – typically you might get 15 controls in 60 minutes – i.e. 3-4 minutes per control. Thus, if you keep running, you earn 2-5 points every 3-4 minutes. If you’re 3-4 minutes late, it will cost you a 9-12 point penalty.
Don’t be late.
Before you start, make sure that you’ve had a look at the map – and in particular, the contours. If you’re good on hills, that’s just fine – but the rest of us will probably get more points if we run on the flat or at lest minimise total climb.
Each control is worth a certain number of points, with higher controls being worth more points than lower ones. As you turn over your map, scan for the high numbered controls – the 4 and 5 pointers. If there is an obvious imbalance, head towards the area with the big ones.
Take it easy to the first control – use the time to look at the map and work out which way you will go. If there are obvious high-scoring loops, you should try to link them together. After a while, you will get a good feel for the distance you can travel – and what this looks like on a 1:10,000 map.
Check the scale – if the map is 1:12,500 and you don’t notice, you could end up being very late back
Be aware of your kilometre rate – how many minutes it takes you to travel 1 Km. (Typically, after allowing for control punching and navigation, this is 4-7 minutes/km for runners and 8-15 minutes/km for walkers).
Lots of course-setters scatter the controls evenly over the map. If this is the case, try to avoid the little controls early on in the course – you can make better use of the time/distance later in the course by getting a 3 or 4 pointer instead of a 2.
Over-zealous route choice is a killer in score courses – some runners head out for a series of high-numbered controls or a high-scoring loop, only to discover that they were over ambitious and can’t get to the later loop in the time available. These runners end up running past controls that they have already done – or even worse – push-hard to get the later loop and come back several minutes late.
When running between two high-numbered controls, take the path that provides the most points. If, for example, the streets are in a grid pattern – you may be able to run from one 5 pointer to another via a 3 pointer or a 2 pointer. i.e. right to the 3 pointer and left to the 5…..or left to the 2 pointer and right to the 5. Obviously, you choose the higher scoring route.
Don’t be late.
Try to give yourself options; do the high-scoring controls first and then run back past low-numbered controls. You can get them if you have time.
In some circumstances, you may be able to get a 3 or 4 point control for a short diversion – say 50-80m in and out of a court. In the case of the 4 point control, the decision may be easy – worst case, you gain 4 points and lose 3 – you’re 1 up. In the case of a 3 point control, you gain no points but drop behind anybody else with the same points as you (because they came in earlier than you). Your choice…
Work backwards from the end-time of your course – if you’re a power walker, you have to return by 8:05 pm. Be conservative – allow a little extra time for that last kilometre – particularly if the finish is uphill. Thus, you have to be within about 1 km of the finish by about 7:50. Faster walkers might choose to be a little further out – the decision is yours. If you’re in time trouble, shorten your course by dropping controls – there’s no point scoring an extra 5 points if it costs you 9 points in penalties!
As you approach the finish, punch the finish control and pass your card in. Everybody must pass their card in – we use this to confirm that all runners/walkers have returned. If you don’t pass your card in, we go looking for you.
Remember – don’t be late