On Sunday, Droobers are hosting a regional event at Bentley. I’m sure it’ll be a great event, but entering for it was a bit of a leap in the dark. (Sorry for picking on this event – the problem it illustrates is true for more or less any regional event you care to mention.)

To be fair, this was partly my fault. I noticed the event when I was on fabian4 and entered it there and then. There’s a box on fabian4 where you put your default course and in my case it’s Blue. I left it at like that and paid. Then I had a look at the flyer and realised – duh – this is a regional event, and I ought to have entered my age class. But should I enter 45 long or 45 short? Which one does Blue correspond to? And how long are the races anyway?

I emailed the organiser and now the info has been added to the website, a day after entries have closed. Notice that the age classes have been left off the final details, so they’ve had to add them on the webpage. But I still don’t know the answer to my first question. M45L is Brown and is 9.8 km, so that’s out. But how to choose between Blue at 6.9 km and M45S (Short Blue) at 5.4km? Blue sounds better but then I’ll be running out of category…

This nonsense of colourising regional events was caused by BOF. I do understand that a few orienteers want to only enter races by colour, but the confusion this has caused has resulted in a degrading of the regional event. A lot of orienteers are entering by colour when they really meant to enter by age class and they are missing out on competing with their peers, and their peers are missing out on competing with them. And some courses are artificially overfull or underused because if you’re going to enter by colour you’re more likely to enter Blue or Green than the mysterious Short Blue or Short Green.

So whose fault is this shambles? Partly BOF’s, partly fabian4’s, partly OD’s and partly mine. What can we do about it?

1. For Regional events, initial event info must show that this is an age class event, show what the correspondence is with colours for people who want to enter by colour, and give some idea of course lengths. (The traditional, simplest and best system is to list the courses by number, with the corresponding age classes and colour.)

2. For Regional events, fabian4 must have age classes as the default setting, although with a clearly indicated option to change to colours.

p.s. Checking the event info for Beechenhurst the following weekend, things aren’t much better. The final details say: 14. COURSES AND MAP INFO
N.B. Courses and Age equivalences:  This event will be using the age categories as outlined in BOF Guideline 3.3 NOT as stated in the flier (3.4). You are asked to check your age category and course choice and amend online if necessary before April 26th. And then the courses are listed only by colour!