Adventure Racing Glossary

Adventure Racing – multi-sport event including trekking/running, mountain biking, paddling and orienteering. Traditionally a team event in which team is coed.

Bushwhacking – off-trail travel, typically on foot.

Checkpoints (CP or control) – racers must locate these points using map-and-compass navigation. CPs are typically orienteering flags, three-dimensional orange and white framed flags with a punch. Punches have a unique metal tooth pattern and racers mark their passports with such punches to prove they have visited the checkpoint. Adventure races and other navigation-based events are designed so racers visit a series of checkpoints which guide them through the course.

Declination – the angular difference between magnetic north (as measured on the compass) and true north (as marked on a map). Maps typically note what this difference is, and racers must adjust their compasses for declination to navigate more precisely.

Hash House – popular in rogaines, this refers to a central transition area that is open for part of the event. RDs typically provide food and drink to racers in orienteering rogaines. They are typically the start/finish location as well. Racers may come and go from this location in an orienteering rogaine.

Linear Course – an adventure race or other navigation-based event in which the checkpoints must be visited in order. Typically, racers must complete the entire course and visit all checkpoints  within the time allotted to finish the race officially.

Modified Rogaine – A combination of linear- and rogaine-style courses. Some RDs incorporate rogaine-style sections within a linear course.

Orienteering – a sport based on map and compass navigation. Typically foot events that range from a few kilometers to 24 hours, orienteering is arguably the most important skill for successful adventure racing. Basic map-and-compass navigation at a minimum is recommended, if not necessary, for adventure racing.

Pre-Plotted – race maps that are already marked with the checkpoints and transition areas.

RD – stands for “Race Director”. The individual(s) who work to scout, design, and organize a course.

Rogaining – ultra-endurance orienteering events. They range in length but traditionally are 24 hours, during which time checkpoints/controls can be visited in any order. Checkpoints are generally worth different point values, and the most points scored wins. Such formats are common in adventure racing as well; checkpoints are either worth different values as in orienteering, or each checkpoint is worth one point. In such a format, some, if not all, checkpoints are optional, allowing all teams to race and finish regardless of speed or skill level. Such events often aim to keep all racers out for much if not the entire event.

Short Course – many adventure races, especially longer, linear ones, have short-course options for less experienced or slower teams that may not be able to complete the entire course. Time cutoffs are used to determine who is allowed to continue on the full course and who must go on a shorter route. Such options give all levels of racers a chance to finish the race and earn an official ranking.

Transition Area (TA) – locations on an adventure racing course that marks the transition between two segments. Typically racers transition from one discipline to another in TAs (i.e. foot-to-bike, bike-to-paddle, paddle-to-bike, etc.). They often have access to personal gear bins and bags and sometimes additional amenities such as food, water, or shelter.

UTM – the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system is, like longitude-latitude, a coordinate system that allows racers to plot points on a map. Some races elect not to pre-plot checkpoints and/or transition areas on maps and require teams to plot points themselves.