Point Pinole

Sunday, February 27, 2000

by Steve Gregg, 510-531-6697

This is BAOC's fourth orienteering meet at Point Pinole, and the second year the Sprint Championships are being held here. It's an appropriate location, since the open, flat, and not-too-technical terrain will let the speed-burners in the club really show their stuff! The fastest runners in the club are capable of running well under 6 min/km here.

Not into the Sprints? Not to worry, we have beginner and intermediate courses that should appeal to everyone.

The Courses

As usual, we are using pre-marked maps. The map is 1:10000 scale, with 2.5 meter contours. Here are the courses:
                Length     Climb    Controls    Steve's Test Run

White           3.5 km      50 m       12 
Yellow          3.6 km      50 m       11
Orange          2.8 km      45 m        8
Prologue *      3.2 km      50 m       10       19 minutes, 30 seconds
Chase **        6.0 km     100 m       22       38 minutes, 30 seconds
* Championship course 1 - the start will close about 11:15 am.
** Championship course 2 - first start at about 12:15 pm.
White: Easy navigation on trails. For beginners and younger children.

Yellow: Every control is less than 100 meters from a trail, and most will be visible from the trails. However, the course is designed so that, in many cases, there will be much shorter off-trail route choices to the controls, across mostly open terrain. This course should be very good practice for advanced beginners.

Orange: The Orange course is set as technical as possible for the area. Most controls are at distinct point features and bag placement will often be low. But as open and flat as the park is, even runners who have just moved up to Orange should not have too much navigational difficulty. There is not a single point in the entire park that is more than 200 meters from a nice wide trail.

The Sprints

Please not run the Prologue course unless you also plan to run in the Chase that follows. That will make it easier and less confusing for the people computing results and starting the Chase.

The Prologue will have individual starting times just like a regular event, but you need to start no later than 11:15 am in order to get back in time for the Chase. Your start time for the Chase will be noon, plus however much time it took you to complete the Prologue. (So if James wins the Prologue with a time of 15 minutes, he will be the first person to start the Chase, with a start time of 12:15 pm. Everyone else's starting time will be based on how far they were behind James after the Prologue.)

The first people to finish the Chase will be the winners of the Sprints. There will be medals for the top three finishers, courtesy of Scarborough Orienteering.

The event is designed to test your ability to run hard between controls with minimal hesitation, and to get in and out of the controls quickly. Sheer footspeed, of course, will also be important for those who hope to win the event, but I hope that even the "speed-challenged" members of the club will come out and enjoy the unusual format of the race.

Test run times: During my Sprints test run, I just touched the streamers, which of course is faster than having to punch, and I went out on a beautiful dry day. With all the rain, the courses may well be significantly slower than when I ran them.

No E-Punching

Unfortunately our E-punch equipment will not be arriving for another three weeks or so, so the event will use the usual manual punches. Sorry about that! Both the Prologue and Chase courses have some looping, but I'm not going to go back to the drawing board and redesign the courses now. I'll just assume that no one will cheat and punch controls out of order.

Hazards and Weather

Potential dangers: Ticks (the ranger says there are many of them in the woods), small pits and depressions hidden by tall grass, fallen and/or logged eucalyptus trees that can easily trip you up. (I suggest you wear spikes or cleats instead of running shoes, especially if its wet). There is little poison oak in the park, and it usually takes the form of big bushes that can easily be avoided.

Weather issues: I'm writing this on Wednesday and it's hard to say how much more rain we will get between now and the event day. Two years ago, however, there was a titanic downpour the day before the event, and then light rain the morning of the meet. This created many unmapped swamps and turned the mapped swamps into little lakes, but other than the fact that everyone came in really muddy, there were not any real problems caused by all the rain. Look at it this way: Why should the Scandinavians get all the fun of running through swampy terrain?

Map Notes

(1) Contour line anomalies: For reasons that even Bob doesn't seem to fully understand, the Point Pinole basemap came with many tiny, seemingly random contour line bends that don't correspond to reentrants or spurs in the field. I have smoothed out a lot of them, but have not had time to check and fix every single one. Due to the very open terrain, this will not cause any navigational problems, but you'll probably need to take a different mentality from most of our ultra-hilly BAOC maps. On most of our current maps the tiniest contour line bend could well correspond to a huge reentrant or spur in the field, and we all have learned to think accordingly. On this map, however, a tiny contour line kink may well represent nothing at all.

(2) Vegetation mapping: Good thing this map is on OCAD! At Point Pinole they perform eucalyptus logging and pruning on a regular basis, and this activity dramatically changes the nature of the vegetation from month to month. Thus this map will never be "complete"--every year new field-checking will need to be done to try to keep the vegetation mapping as accurate as possible. In addition to this, it was very difficult for me to accurately represent the different thicknesses of the eucalyptus in the forested areas. My basic color scheme was this: Light green for eucalyptus thick enough to be difficult to run through, white for "normal" runnable forest, and in the areas where the eucalyptus was dramatically thinned out but not completely removed, I used the "rough open with scattered trees" symbol. I hope this distinction will be clear in the field in most cases, but don't be surprised to find yourself in places where the vegetation mapping does not seem to match what you see while running. Also, most of the small dark green circles on the map are bushes which were big enough or distinct enough to be individually mapped.

(3) Non-IOF symbols: (A) Like the Montebello map, this map uses black dots to separate the different grades of whites, yellows, and oranges. These dots are there solely to improve the readability of the map--you should not necessarily expect to see "distinct vegetation boundaries." Now that we are using a better printer to produce our maps, these black dots are perhaps no longer necessary, but I have not had time to remove them and make a test printing. (B) On the advice of Evan Custer, I also invented a non-IOF symbol (yellow with green dots), which stands for "rough open with scattered bushes". You can see one of these areas when you are at the start line--just look up the hillside to the west. When these bushes could be mapped individually, I mapped them as small circular dark green patches, but in areas where they are clumped togther too thickly to map individually, you will see the special symbol.

Help, I Need Some Bodies...

Any offers of help would be appreciated! I am most in need of people who (1) could run the Prologue course early (say around 9:00 am), and then help with starts and finishes on all the courses until the Chase start at noon; or (2) are not planning to run in the chase at all, and could help me with starting everyone at the appropriate time and keeping track of the finishers.


To get to Point Pinole, take the Richmond Parkway exit off Interstate 80 in Richmond and go west about 1.5 miles. Immediately after the stoplight at San Pablo Avenue, turn right onto Atlas Road. After about a mile on Atlas, you will cross over a set of railroad tracks and encounter a stop sign. Turn left onto Giant Highway at this intersection. You will pass a detention center on your right, and the park entrance will be immediately after that, also on your right. Pay the fee, park, and walk over the railroad tracks to the staging area in the meadow.