Juniors and Beginners are the future of the sport of MTBO.
To expand the sport of Mountain Bike Orienteering, every race director should include beginner courses in each of their MTBO events. Nicknamed “Brownie Events” by Australian MTBO racers, serious riders are known to get “brownie points” by bringing beginner riders to their events.
The concept behind the brownie event is similar to the White courses held during Foot Orienteering meets with junior- or beginner-level courses consisting of an un-timed loop-course of 1- to 1.5-miles, and timed loop-course of 2- to 3-miles. During an event, these beginner courses are designed to reduce the chance of new riders getting lost, allowing riders to come back to the start/finish within a short amount of time, and to allow beginners to have positive experiences to build from.
Typically, race directors should build these courses using the simplicity and advantages of flat terrain, limited route choices, and larger-scale maps. Most junior- and beginner-level courses can be built into the regular racecourse allowing for both types of racers to be on some of the same trails at the same time. This not only allows new riders to race shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the more experienced competitors but gives experienced riders the opportunity to help and encourage younger riders.
Make some room in your next event for brownies, and you’re sure to bake up batch after batch of competitive MTBO riders for years to come!