Morgan Territory, Livermore

Sunday, Nov. 21, 1999

by Mark Blair, 925-462-2254

After 17 years of quality use in events of all different types, BAOC's oldest map still in active service is finally being retired. This will be the last time that Bob Cooley's uniquely hand-crafted, 5-color map of Morgan Territory Regional Wilderness, originally drawn in 1982 from a 2-by-3 inch USGS clipout, will be used in a BAOC event.

A new map of this area is currently under construction using modern, computer-based technology, but will not make its debut until a tentative A-class event some time in the year 2001. (The new map, incidentally, will cover more than twice as much ground as the old; during those 17 years, substantial tracts of new public parkland have been annexed.)

In terms of steepness and runnability, Morgan Territory Regional Preserve has some of the finest terrain in BAOC. All the areas traversed by this year's courses consist mainly of rolling hills covered about half by sparse forests of oak and madrone and half by large open areas of short dry grass. The ups and downs are for the most part short ups and downs - no "killer climbs." The dry grass is easily runnable everywhere and does not exceed 2 feet in height. There are NO STAR THISTLES. (Please clean your shoes thoroughly before coming to Morgan Territory to remove any star thistle seeds left over from Briones, or wherever, that may still be clinging.) There is very little poison oak, and all courses have been engineered to avoid it.

All this adds up to terrain that is easily walkable everywhere and downright runnable almost every step of the way (that is, if you've got the chutzpah to run all those short uphill stretches).

Course statistics:

        White:   1.6 km / 65 m climb
        Yellow:  2.6 km / 100 m climb
        Orange:  3.9 km / 170 m climb

        Short Phantom Line-O:  5.1 km / 200 m climb
        Long Phantom Line-O:   7.2 km / 330 m climb
A Start-O course for very young children will also be available in the area immediately north of the parking lot.

White, Yellow, Orange Courses

The White, Yellow, and Orange courses will start at the pond that's an easy 200-meter walk north from the parking lot. Competitors will copy their courses from master maps onto their own unmarked maps (1:15,000 scale) given to them at registration. The finish line for these courses will be the finish line shared by all courses, located about 200m up the main path that leads northeast from the parking lot.

Phantom Line-O

For the advanced crowd, we're doing something a little special: a Phantom Line-O, an unusual form of orienteering first introduced to BAOC by Harold and Penny DeMoss about 10 years ago at - oddly enough - Morgan Territory.

The Phantom Line-O will have a remote start that's a fairly level 1.5 km walk from the parking lot. Allow 15 to 30 minutes for this.

At the Phantom Line-O start line, each competitor will be handed a 1:10,000 scale map marked, not with circles showing control point locations, but rather with a continuous blue-green curved line that runs from Start to Finish. All 33 descriptions on the control description sheet (given to the competitor at registration) will correspond to actual terrain features on the line, in the order listed, as the line is traversed from Start to Finish.

The catch: Not all the control points will have a control marker when you get to the correct location. Those that don't are the "phantom" controls. If you follow the line at all times, you will be guaranteed to find all the marked controls. Whenever you do find one, just punch the next free square on your punch card.

Since control locations will not be shown explicitly on the map, and since some controls will be phantoms, the control description sheet will not indicate any control codes except for 3 special control points (2 on the Short course). Locations for these special controls will be shown as circles on the map, and their control codes will be given on the description sheet. Water will be available at all 3 of these locations.

So it's not as scary as it might seem: There will be 3 points on the Long course and 2 points on the Short course where you'll be absolutely sure where you are on the map and where you are in the sequence of control points on the description sheet.

You don't have to decide in advance which of the two Phantom Line-O courses to run. A short purple line on the map labelled "Short" will indicate the path to follow if you wish to do the Short course. This line bypasses the northern 2.1 km of the Long course. You don't have to decide until you get there whether to take this shortcut to do the Short course or whether to continue along the blue-green line to complete the Long course. The control description sheet will also indicate which sequence of control points is being skipped by taking the short cut. (This is very similar to the Golden Goat vs. the Golden Kid shortcut at the Monte Bello event last month.)

A competitor's score in the Short or Long Phantom Line-O competition will be his/her elapsed time on the course plus 10 minutes added for the first missed punch, plus 20 more minutes added for the second missed punch, etc.

Take heart, advanced course runners. The Phantom Line-O is nothing to fear and, quite frankly, I believe most competitors will consider the navigation to be quite easy compared to most advanced courses.

So, the old map is calling to you. The man-made object marked "TV" on the map is still sitting there; reception is still lousy. The tiny buildings containing seats with large holes in the middle, marked as crescent moons on the map, are still there too; you may need one.


To get to Morgan Territory, go east on I-580 toward Livermore. Take the exit onto North Livermore Ave. and head north a few miles to a forced left bend onto Manning Rd. Proceed for another half mile or so on Manning, and turn right onto Morgan Territory Rd. Follow this road (which becomes fairly narrow) 5.6 miles to the Morgan Territory Regional Wilderness parking lot.

Start times for all courses are 10:00 am to 12:30 pm. All courses will close at 2:30 P.M. Parking is free. Please report to the finish even if you decide not to complete your course - this is the only way we know you've returned safely, and saves us from a needless search-and-rescue operation.