envelope icon phone icon

right arrow Home

down arrow Rules

bullet A Purpose

bullet B Planning

bullet C Safety

bullet D Pre-Race

bullet E En Route

bullet F Controls & Checkpoints

bullet G Quibbles

right arrow Training

right arrow Manager's Handbook

right arrow Data Files

right arrow Maps

Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous.

Robert A. Heinlein

Controls & Checkpoints

F-1 Checkpoint Open Times

Each checkpoint will be open for a specific time slot, announced ahead of time for the captains to plan their routes. Normally the open period will be 1.5 hours. Penalty for being late to a checkpoint is 1 point per minute.

The Race Marshall can extend the open times of a checkpoint, and modify following checkpoint open times in interests of safety and a good race. In general, a checkpoint will be held open for 1 hour after the first team arrives there. The Race Marshall will inform each team of any modifications to open times as soon as practical, usually when the team arrives at the checkpoint.


Wakeup 7:00
Starting gate opens 8:00
Chk 1 9:30 11:00
Chk 2 12:00 1:30
Chk 3 3:00 4:30
End 6:00

Open times provide a framework for the day, keep all teams in a general area, and make it possible for a single Race Marshall to cover the day. Extending the open times is normally done when it’s obvious that all teams are taking longer to get to a checkpoint than originally planned.

Example: Checkpoint 2 is scheduled to be open from 12:00 to 1:30. First team arrives at 1:15. So the Race Marshall holds Checkpoint 2 open until 2:15 and tells each team that Checkpoint 3 will be open from 3:15 to 4:45 instead of from 3:00 to 4:30. Similarly, the Race Marshall can modify the finish time, notifying the captains at a previous checkpoint. (This was our first reaction to teams being late for checkpoints during the first two races.)

St. John's ran this program with limited personnel. We had a staff member or alumnus as a referee with each team, and one staff member who acted as race race marshall, usually with the help of a few parents who came out to observe the race.

F-2 Checkpoint on Time Bonus

Captains must declare an intended arrival time at the checkpoint as part of their route plan for the day.

Reaching a checkpoint within 15 minutes either side of the declared time for that checkpoint earns a bonus of 15 points. This is independent of any other bonuses or penalties.

To meet this, captains have to measure each segment they do and calculate how long it will take them to do it. Example: Captain declares that he will be at checkpoint C1 at 10:45. He actually gets there at 10:55. Team receives a 15 point bonus. If the checkpoint had closes at 10:50 he would have received a 5 point penalty for being late, and the 15 point bonus for being on his schedule. This can be used by the captains to hedge.

F-3 Skipping Checkpoints

Checkpoints may not be skipped. Skipping a checkpoint results in a score of zero for the race.

Checkpoints are our opportunity to see that everyone on the team is okay. They are also a chance for teams to re-fuel. While teams normally carry lunch and water or juice, it's easy to skip this during a high speed day.

In the event of cold weather, the RM should have hot soup or cocoa at the checkstop.

F-4 Proof of Visit

Proof of visiting the location shall be the return of a code phrase left on each marker.

This verifies the correct control was found. Potentially it prevents cheating if a team is without an adult. It also makes it possible to open the game to outside teams.

F-5 Record Keeping en Route

At each control the captain or delegate will write down the control identifier, the code phrase and the time. Control phrases only count if reported exactly as they are on the control (ignoring capitalization). Pink Bird will not be considered “close enough” to Fuchsia Flamingo. The leader with the group will write down the identifier and the time.

Some captains may depend on memory, but this is a bad idea, especially since the time keeper at the checkstops may not be all that we would wish. This is in effect the captain’s version of “If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.” Leaders are required to write down times in case there is doubt on the times that the captains record. After all, it would be to a captain’s advantage to set his watch 30 minutes slow so as to reach each control “early.” (In the event of two teams reaching a control nearly simultaneously, the two leaders agree on times to record so that the teams will be recorded as arriving in the right order despite differences in watch time.)

F-6 Declarations Bonus

A captain may 'declare' his intention of visiting particular controls. If his team is successful, they receive a 30% bonus on the points for that control. If they are unsuccessful, they receive a 25% penalty on the maximum points for that control

Too many teams went out and just sort of fumbled their way through the day. Remember that one of our intentions is to foster planning. In a typical race with 30 controls, most teams should be certain of 10-15, shaky on 5-10, and clueless about the remainder. A good plan includes contingencies for travel both slower and faster than expected, with controls they will skip or add depending on how the day goes. A good team should be able to plan a route that is almost certain to find 8-12 specific controls. These are the ones they should declare.