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Golden Gate Park

Date: (Sat.) May. 17, 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
Event Director:
Course Setters: Vladimir Gusiatnikov, Brian Schmitz, Rex Winterbottom
Type: C; White, Yellow, Orange, & Sprint courses (Sprint Finals)

Please note that fees and time limits apply, unless otherwise mentioned in the event announcement. Events are typically not canceled due to bad weather.

Course Setters' Notes


Saturday weather forecast for Zip Code 94121, Golden Gate Park:

High 84° F, low 57° F... check it again before you leave.

Where am I going?

Lindley Meadow, the east end of it, close to 30th Ave and John F. Kennedy Drive.

How do I get there?

By car or SF MUNI (#5 Fulton line). Take Fulton to 30th Ave or 36th Ave and turn into the park. Go to John F. Kennedy Drive, and park close to 30th Ave.


Golden Gate Park is a potpourri of grass, forests, shrubs, sports fields, lakes, buffalo pens, windmills, trails, roads, archery ranges, fishing ponds, museums, and people.


What's accurate? Roads, paved paths (usually solid lines), and buildings. Everything else is questionable. Well, it's not that bad, but take the multitude of vegetation codes with a grain of salt. Sometimes you can get through the fight fairly cleanly. Sometimes white forest is fairly clogged. Trails—some exist, some don't... the larger ones are fairly reliable. When in doubt, locate yourself off of buildings or roads or other solid rock-hard things. There's a high amount of detail.

Now, when designing the courses, especially the Sprint, I took the map into account, and avoided bad areas as much as I could, and redrew vegetation in a number of spots.

Don't go in the mapped out-of-bounds areas—purple lines. Not that I'm tempting you to.

Black × symbols (man-made objects) are usually benches.

Map scale will vary by course. Read it on your map. I've asked Bob to print Sprint #1 and Sprint #4 at 1:5000, and Sprint #2 and Sprint #3 at 1:2500. Double-check your maps. The contour interval is 3 meters.


  1. Cars: I designed courses to avoid crossing roads. Yellow, Orange, and Sprint #1 do it the most. Plan on slowing down when you cross roads and looking carefully in both directions.
  2. People: I didn't try to encourage barging through groups of picnicers with the courses. You know better than that. Be polite.
  3. "Urban campers": While camping is not allowed in the park, some do, and hang out at their "campsite" during the day. I didn't set controls to go near or through them, but watch where you go. There are some long legs with multiple route options.
  4. Poison oak: Notice, this is low on the list. Yes, it's there. Know what it looks like and what to do about it. But it's not all over the place like at Sunol.

So what do I wear?

Light clothes for the heat. All the Sprints, Orange, and maybe Yellow will appreciate leg protection. Gaiters aren't necessary, but could help. The main problem is the tall grass in areas, and itchy things that scrape bare flesh. Now, there are bits of it. Not everywhere. Running shoes are fine—if I were to run all the Sprints, the minor benefit of spikes in some places would not convince me that I need spikes overall.

Course Information

  Course          Length    Controls    Climb
  White           2.1 km        9       15 m
  Yellow          3.7          10       45
  Orange          5.9           9       70
  Sprint 1 (*)    1.7           9       40
  Sprint 2 (*)    0.6           5       15
  Sprint 3 (*)    0.7           3       25
  Sprint 4 (*)    1.7           7       25
  (*) Note: You must be preregistered to do the Sprints.

White, Yellow, and Orange

Controls have no bag or punch or pie plate. You will have to answer a question about the control feature or an attached or nearby object. For example:

What's the third word on the plaque? 1. the 2. park 3. Golden 4. Gate

You will circle an answer on your clue-sheet/punch-card dealio. Registration will hand out pencils.

All the courses are quite different. Adventure Racers might want to do a Super-Motala of White + Yellow + Orange for 12 km of fun.


Be ready to go at 10:00—so register by 9:45.

My goal is to do the awards ceremony by 1:00.

We will travel together through the park to do 4 different courses, with the last course finishing at the registration area.

My car is going to each stop that we go to, and you may bring a backpack or duffel with supplies, refreshments, and clothes, and leave it in my car.

My car will carry water and some light snacks, like bananas, for all of us.

The staging is much as described in the Sprint Series updates about this event.

The first Sprint covers the eastern end of the park, and is probably the most straightforward course. Starts for the first Sprint are staggered at 30 seconds, and the order you finish ranks you, not your time. This gives some worth to having run a few of the preliminary qualifying sprints—start order is determined by series standing. Sprint #1 will reseed us into brackets of 8 runners apiece. Then you will be competing within those brackets.

The second Sprint is a short scramble around a small area divided by large, fenced-off obstacles. We'll have mini-mass starts of 4, separated by one-minute intervals. Then you'll either be in the top 4 or bottom 4 of your bracket.

The third Sprint will feature individual starts at 15-second intervals. Starts will be grouped by which foursome you ended up in for your bracket. Within those foursomes, you will be sorted into a top two and a bottom two.

In the final Sprint you will be ranked as the top pair, second pair, third pair, and so on overall. Pairs will start head to head, 30 seconds between starts. The overall winner is whoever finishes first. It's possible for someone from the second pair to become the champion if they catch up. And it's possible for someone in the 2nd bracket of 8 to advance into the top 8 of the standings.