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Sunol Regional Wilderness

Date: (Sun.) Mar. 19, 2006
Location: Sunol, CA
Event Director: - 510.407.1876
Course Setter: Gary Carpenter
Type: B; All seven courses -- White through Blue

Course Setter's Notes

By Gary Carpenter

[Updated 3/17/06 with an added paragraph (noted below) regarding the Green, Red, and Blue courses.]

Welcome to Sunol Regional Wilderness! The "standard 7" point-to-point courses are offered today: White, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Green, Red, and Blue. If you've never tried orienteering before, we recommend that you try a White course first. If you like it, you may have time for a Yellow course too. There will be informal clinics for beginners between 9:30 and 10:30 AM near the registration area.


  Course     Length     Climb    Controls   Technical Difficulty   Physical Difficulty
  ------     ------     -----    --------   --------------------   -------------------
  White      2.8 km     100 m       12            Novice                  Easy
  Yellow     2.6 km     100 m       11       Advanced Beginner            Easy
  Orange     3.9 km     175 m       12         Intermediate             Moderate
  Brown      3.7 km     155 m       12           Advanced               Moderate
  Green      5.2 km     300 m       19           Advanced            Moderately Hard
  Red        6.6 km     320 m       22           Advanced                 Hard
  Blue       7.8 km     400 m       27           Advanced               Very Hard

All course maps are pre-printed from OCAD. White and Yellow maps are printed at 1:7500 scale. All other maps are scaled at 1:10,000. Electronic punching (e-punch) will be used on all courses, except White and Yellow.

Green, Red, and Blue Courses: These courses all have a common (trivial) first control. The purpose is to get the runners out of sight of the Start area prior to beginning serious navigation. These courses were designed using IOF regulations, which require only 60-meter control spacing between similar features and 30-meter spacing for others. [Paragraph added 3/17/06]

START AREAS: The White, Yellow, Orange and Brown Courses will start in the clearing near registration. Green, Red, and Blue have a remote start. All courses have the same finish.

REMOTE START (Green, Red, and Blue): The Start area for the Green, Red, and Blue courses is located 1.0 km from the registration area. Follow the signs and pink streamers across the bridge, then right on the trail. Continue to follow streamers to the Start area. Plan on a 15- to 20-minute hike (approx. 75 meters of climb). There will be water at the Start area. There are no toilet facilities near the Start area. You can leave warm-ups at the Start area, and we will arrange to transport them back to the registration/e-punch download area. However, the timeliness of their return will depend on the availability of volunteers for this task.

TERRAIN: The terrain at Sunol is steep. The contour interval is 7.5 meters. Two closely spaced 7.5-meter contours can mean an uncrossable reentrant. In most cases contouring around reentrants is advised. The footing is generally pretty good. The recent rains have made the ground soft, which is preferable to the hard, baked, summer conditions. We recommend that you avoid cow trails as the water ponds in the depressions left by hooves making for both slippery and uneven footing. Cleats are strongly recommended on the Orange and advanced courses.

MAP: The map is basically a direct conversion to OCAD of the old Sunol map, and doesn't reflect all of the changes that have occurred in the 15 years since the park was mapped. It does reflect changes that have been made over the past few years by Mark Blair and Bob Cooley, as well as some new changes this year (mostly in the immediate area of controls).

Some map items of note: There are many unmapped animal trails — primarily the result of cattle grazing. Some of the mapped trails and vehicle tracks are overgrown and indistinct. Cattle trails in particular can be surprisingly well defined and confusing in areas of mapped trails. Be careful not to mistake an unmapped trail for a mapped one. There are also many unmapped dead/fallen trees (root stocks). Some of the vegetation has spread and thickened since it was mapped. Much of the "green" (even the very light green) is poison oak. The courses have been designed to avoid the worst of the poison oak, but you'll still encounter some on the courses. Full body covering and the use of Tecnu is recommended.

Black X's: Black X's signify "special man-made features" — these include (but are not limited to) picnic tables, signs, power poles (often cut-off several feet above the ground), and 5-foot diameter circular concrete man-hole structures.

CONTROL MARKERS: Most of the control markers for advanced courses will be on stands about knee high. Where the control is a point feature (such as a boulder), the control bag is typically placed on the side of the feature opposite the expected direction of approach.

HAZARDS: Sunol Park has the usual wilderness hazards, which include poison oak, ticks carrying Lyme disease, rattlesnakes, and steep loose terrain. There are several fence crossings on the intermediate and advanced courses. Some of the fences have been repaired recently, and are more difficult to scrooch under than in the past. Choose your crossing point carefully and beware of the barbed wire. There will be a First Aid Kit at the registration area.

CATTLE AND WILDLIFE: Sunol Park has a variety of wildlife including turkey, bobcat, deer, rattlesnakes, and mountain lion. The wild pigs have been thinned out significantly by the Park District, and the course setter has not encountered any in the last two years.

COWS!! The Orange and advanced courses will all cross an area with a large herd of cattle. It's best to avoid the cattle if possible. I found that if you make some noise (e.g., clap your hands loudly), they will move out of the way. Hopefully after the first few runners pass through the grazing area, the cattle will move on. One word of caution: avoid getting between a mother and her calf!! George Minirak has suggested singing to calm an aggressive cow. Try "Home on the Range!"

EQUESTRIANS: Sunol Park conducts trail rides near the beginning of the White and Yellow courses. Please note that the equestrians, as always, have the right-of-way. IF YOU ARE NEAR EQUESTRIANS, PLEASE WALK TO AVOID SPOOKING THE HORSES.

SAFETY: Every participant (or group) on every course must carry a whistle. Whistles will be available at registration for participants that don't have one. Whistles should only be used in an emergency. Blow three short blasts at 1 to 2 minute intervals to signal that you need help. The safety bearing is south to Alameda creek, which runs through the park near the registration area.

The courses close at 2:00 PM. Every participant must check in at the finish by 2 PM, whether or not you finish your course. If you do not check in by 2 PM, we will assume you are lost or injured, and a search party will be organized. If you think you may take a long time to finish a course, please start before 11 AM so you'll have the full 3 hours to finish.