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Roberts Regional Recreation Area & Joaquin Miller Park

Date: (Sat.) Jul. 21, 2007
Location: Oakland, CA
Event Director: - 510.619.5728
Course Setters: Joe Scarborough, Bruce Wolfe
Type: C; Orienteering skills training in morning; potluck social lunch; White, Yellow, Orange, Sprint courses in afternoon

Sprint Course Setter's Notes


If you think that little 2-square-km patch of Joaquin Miller Park has nothing new to offer after 28 years of use, pay a visit next Saturday and you may be surprised. Map enhancement and some intense course-setting will give even old-timers some new perspectives and, I hope, some of the best competition of the BAOC year. Gagarin Sprint Series ( points for all.

Note: There is a $5 parking fee at Roberts Recreation Area.


First starts at 1:30 P.M. after the festivities at Roberts Recreation Area. Follow the streamers about 350 meters from registration at Huckleberry to the sprint start across Skyline Blvd. in Joaquin Miller Park. (Do not follow the streamers to the White, Yellow, and Orange start.)

Reserved start times: There could be a high demand for starts at 1:30, so I will be accepting e-mail reservations. If you will not be attending the training or potluck, or want to let the food settle, there should be plenty of starts later, ending at 4:00.


Here are the details for the Sprint course:

2.2 km
115 m climb
20 controls
Estimated winning time 18-20 minutes

Electronic punching will be used.

The setup is generally the same as last year. The course will be in three loops with two spectator controls at the end of each loop. The route between these controls is streamered. As last year, this will not be a standard sprint venue. More like a super-short middle distance with very short legs and technical forest navigation. No gimmicks or mass starts, etc. Just real orienteering. Rather than complex route choice and easy navigation, the emphasis for this sprint will be on fast clean execution under technical forest conditions. Flag placement will be consistently very low, but always clearly visible after you reach the control point. Optimum routes will involve very little trail running. The course is designed to maximize the technical challenge consistent with fairness standards, with the experienced advanced runners in mind.


The map scale is 1:4,000. Coming from a USGS base, there are discrepancies that skew some areas. But I think the map is fair. A large amount of detail has been added, especially along likely routes. As with all BAOC maps, you will find some smaller paths missing, generalized vegetation boundaries, and contour anomalies. The most significant improvement will be in refined vegetation boundaries. Some still need work, but most patches down to 10 meters in the competition area have been added or corrected.

Vegetation mapping is on runnability, not appearance or visibility. You will find areas of huckleberry normally shown as light green, but, on this map, if you can run it should be mapped white.

White = slow jog to fast run.
Light green = walk.
Medium green = difficult, and usually best avoided.
Dark green = impenetrable.

There will be no legend on the map. There is a special symbol for tripod. The brown X is used for a stump (mappable stumps are few and far between, and the only stump on the map has a control).


Mostly rolling with some steep bits around the southern the edge. The runnability is generally good though soft and rough underfoot at times. Visibly: moderate with lots of huckleberry. Watch for: occasional sprigs of poison oak, a couple of spots of nettle or briars, a couple of really steep slopes.


Text descriptions for special features are added to the description sheet. They are "junk", "tripod", and X for "stump" and O for "cairn". Admittedly, tripods and tiny depressions and boulders, and vague vegetation boundaries are sometimes control features in name only, given the relative visibility of the bag, but for a race like this and supporting detail in the vicinity, I think the upside is worth the stretching of standards.

One of the tripods is constructed of fallen branches, and as such does not adequately stand out as a distinct feature let alone dominate over the bag. For a pit to constitute a control feature it needs to be deep enough and obvious enough to be seen before the bag. It is rare to find a really good small depression or pit that fills the bill, hence the mistaken notion that the bag needs to be hung high. You will not find that on this course. The markers will be low at all controls, touching or not more than a few inches off the ground.


I'm always interested in feedback. So, if I have time, I'll put together a survey and ask for your critique.

We are looking for help for the starts and finishes, so please drop a note if you're available. Should be fun.

July 20 Update:

Send me an e-mail for reserved start time. The start interval is three minutes. There could be a substantial wait for a time if we have a huge mob all at once.
If running another course, the sprint must be first to be listed as such in the results.
Rootstocks are not mapped.
Vegetation boundaries are a guide to route choice, not fine navigation except where used as control features.
The junk control consists of three small metallic colored tanks about 1 meter long and 1/3 meter in diameter.

More details below. Check at the event for any additional updates.

Additional Comments

This will be a "forest" sprint, medium to fast with some steep slopes, rough and/or loose under foot in places. Three loops making for good spectating...Many map revisions...Many new control features...(some perhaps sub-standard in terms of detail and map quality.) Even if you have been orienteering here for the last 25+ years, you will get a new technical challenge. All advanced runners are encouraged to attend.

The Sprint will be suitable and great fun for all advanced orienteers. Efforts in map improvement and course design are aimed at making this one of our top competitive sprints of the year. If you liked the race last year, you will love this one. I especially invite the top runners to take the test, and earn Gagarin-series points. As this is in the POC area, please note that the terrain west of Skyline is now out-of-bounds for Sprint competitors prior to the race.

The good: Some of the best BAOC terrain. Prime undulating redwood forest of moderate slopes and runnability.
The bad: Not nearly as large as we would like, but enough for sprints

The bad: Going on 30 years of use and old hat to many.
The good: The course setter is more acquainted than the competitors, and looking for new ways to improve the fairness and challenge issues that come with familiarity.

The bad: A map that has yet to reach IOF standards. Not that unusual, but here the lack of a decent base map has left areas of incongruity that you may or may not notice. Vegetation and contour mapping shaky in places.
The good: Scores of map corrections to make it newer and fairer. 1:4,000 or 1:5,000 scale.

The bad: Like other recent events, not up to all the rules and standards of a B meet. In some places lacks the technically easy/complex route choice and urban setting called for in sprints
The good: Instead, uses the terrain to its best advantage for forest running more akin to short course racing with many short legs.