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Merritt College

Date: (Sun.) Sep. 7, 2008
Location: Oakland, CA
Event Director: - 510.681.6181
Course Setter: Rex Winterbottom
Type: C; White, Yellow, and Motala afternoon courses

Course Setter's Notes



Merritt is a college campus with lots of pavement, staircases, ramps, and landscaped vegetation. Wilderness encroaches on parts of the campus, offering some interesting variety.


This is a new ISSOM 2007 Sprint-standard map made by Rex at a 1:5000 scale with a contour interval of 25 feet. I have provided form lines and slope tags to help you figure out the ups and downs and steeper slopes. Watch for earth banks, too. The campus rims a large “bowl”—either a natural or excavated depression in the hills.

There is a lot of detail on the map, and I couldn't show everything. This map lacks water fountains, fire hydrants, benches, and lamp posts. Sometimes, point features had to be omitted, because they would clutter up the map—and in those areas, there's already enough detail to know where you are.

The rough-open vegetation area symbol is used a lot because it provides contrast with the nicely landscaped and grassy areas of campus. Those “rough open” areas are typically unimproved areas between buildings or wilderness areas on the outskirts.

Generally, large trees are green circles, medium trees are marked by a green ×, and small trees and bushes are shown with a green dot. However, sometimes I needed to show trees using a smaller symbol for a big tree, so a large tree is sometimes mapped with a small green dot in a tight area.

Much of the campus is mapped with the olive-green-ish “forbidden area” symbol—sometimes they are simply areas you are not allowed to go, but mostly I use it to denote the nicely landscaped areas you should not trod on.

There are many barriers on this map—walls, fences, and building exteriors—these have a thicker black line. Thick black lines mean you must go around. Signs are black circles, and other man-made objects are mapped with a black ×. But not all of them are mapped.


On all the courses, you must punch all the controls in order. This will be monitored. The White course stays on the trails, and the Yellow course zig-zags all over campus, avoiding the areas where the Motola goes having tricky footing. The White and Yellow share only one common control, but the Motola has all the controls of the Yellow plus about six more. Not to say that it wouldn't be good training to run the Yellow after doing the Motola, because the controls are taken in a different order. There is a remote finish for all the courses, it's not too far, and it offers a nice view of the bay.

The Motola has a 4:00 PM mass start. Be registered by 3:45 if you wish to participate in the mass start. You don't have to do the mass start if you want to avoid the excitement. Starts for all the courses are open from 3:00 to 5:00.

There are 4 loops on the Motola: A, B, C, D. Everyone will do D last, and it has a remote finish. Your first 3 loops will be A, B, C in a mixed-up order–there are 6 possible orders. Your maps will be in a case, one on top of the order. You must always pull out the top map. Do not change the order. They are done to balance the number of people going to the first control on each of the three loops. You also must go back to the start at the end of loop A, B, and C and deposit your used map in the box. If you do not, you will be disqualified.

  Course        Distance   Climb   Controls   Comment
  White          1.0 km     15 m      10      Trails
  Yellow         2.5        40        14      Off trails
  Motala A       0.9        25         5      Mass start at 4:00
  Motala B       0.8        15         5
  Motala C       0.5        15         5
  Motala D       1.5        40         5
  Motala Totals  3.7        85        20


For White and Yellow, you'll be fine with shorts and running shoes.

The Motola does take you in two or three places near poison oak, so pants may be what you prefer, although it's avoidable, so you may wear shorts and keep your eyes open too. I would recommend shoes with some traction–in two or three control locations, my running shoes were not gripping enough for me to confidently run in and out of the control site during my practice run.


Most of the campus is deserted on Sundays, except the area near the fields. You'll see more cars and people there. Still, watch for cars and people anywhere. Often times, good routes will cross parts of parking lots. I did not set legs through areas busy with cars or fast cars. Keep an eye out.

There are some steep slopes on the Motola, and the Motola also encounters bits of poison oak in a few areas.

It is not advisable to try to cross walls and fences mapped as impassable. Go around.

Forbidden Areas

For many of the mapped forbidden areas, it looks like you can run right through. Don't! You will be disqualified. Please report anyone breaking this rule. Some of the areas aren't packed with vegetation and may have some mulch, but to be fair, do not cross those areas.


Water will be at the Start and Finish, and cups will be filled for participants who are passing by, particularly on the Motola. Restrooms are in a nearby building, about 60 meters away. There are many places on the campus to sit and relax, either on nice grass or benches. Enjoy the bay views from several spots.