What is Optimum Time? How is it Calculated?

Optimum time is a phase that is commonly associated with cross country and pre-novice hunter trials. Optimum time is the time in which you have to complete a course without incurring any time penalties.

Optimum time is set by the course designer and takes into account the level and type of competition. Traditionally, the course would be measured using a trundle wheel which has a display to keep track of the distance covered. They begin at the starting box and walk the course using the desired route.

This distance is then divided by the desired speed (metres per minute). For example if the course is 2300 metres long and the desired speed is 600 metres per minute (2300 ÷ 600) this gives us a time of 3.83. This is not the correct optimum time, the .83 must be multiplied by 60 (seconds) which gives 49.8 seconds. Therefore the optimum time will be 3 minutes 49 seconds.

Riders who complete the course under this time do not incur any time penalties. Those who go over the time incur a penalty of 0.4 per second. More experienced riders will find shortcuts or ways to make up time.

Just to complicate things further, depending on the format you may be given "speed faults" for completing the course too quickly. Deliberately slowing down or serpentining in order to increase your time so you don't get any speed faults will also incur penalty points.

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