Table of contents

O in the Oaks '08

Joseph D. Grant County Park

Date: Nov. 14 - 16, 2008
Location: San Jose, CA
Event Director: - 408.568.6740
Course Setters: François Léonard, Kent Ohlund, Dan Greene, Nick Corsano
Type: A; Full-featured "A" meet, including U.S. Trail Orienteering Championships

Course Setters' Notes

Friday, November 14 – Sprint

Notes by Francois Leonard:

Two courses are offered on Friday: a Sprint course and a White-Yellow course. All controls will be presented on stands for both of these courses. The Starts for both courses are at the same place, close to the assembly area. They also share the same Finish, which is 500 m from the assembly area.

Sprint: The Sprint course is 2.2 km in length with 50 m of climb, and has 15 controls. On the approach to the second control, there is a patch of poison oak, clearly marked as green on the map. There is no need to crash through it to get to the control. Other than that, you should encounter very little poison oak on the course, unless you make a bad route choice, for example by deciding to run through vegetation mapped as green on the map. Two controls are shared with the White-Yellow course.

Regarding the map: Vegetation needs to be interpreted somewhat. On this type of terrain, white forest can consist of very sparse trees; in addition, a cluster of even just two trees can be mapped as a white patch. That said, more distinct trees are mapped with green circles, with the size of the circle representative of the tree size. In the second part of the course you will encounter patches of vegetation mapped as beige with vertical green lines. Although it is possible to get through it while maintaining some running speed, this stuff is pretty nasty, and I would strongly advise that you stay out of it. The course was designed to avoid it.

I test ran the sprint course in 12:22. I expect the winning time to be close to this, since the elite runners run slightly faster than I do but will need to navigate.

Yield to horses: Very early in Friday's sprint, you are likely to go through a small equestrian campground. It is unlikely that there will be horses there, but in the event that there are, please be careful not to spook them: give them plenty of room, slow down, walk if necessary.

White-Yellow: This course is 2.0 km long with 20 meters of climb and 9 controls. We're calling this course "White-Yellow" because this is a "sprint" day. The controls are of White level, so the course can be enjoyed by participants who usually do the White course. In addition, since sprint courses tend to be shorter, with easier control placements than traditional courses, this course also serves as a "sprint-like" course for the folks who usually run Yellow. Specific map details can be found in the section above.

Two controls are shared with the Sprint course.

Please note that the route from the last control to the Finish is not on a path and is not streamered. You will have to make your way through an open field to get to the Finish. The Finish will be easily seen from the last control.

François Léonard

Saturday, November 15 – Middle Distance

Notes by Kent Ohlund:

Even though BAOC has held events at Joe Grant County Park almost every year since 1984, the middle-distance courses are set in an area of which most has not been used in approximately 20 years. It's a fairly small area that is well suited for middle distance, but a bit too small for regular events.

There is a system of reentrants and gullies with some denser vegetation interspersed with ridges, with open or half-open land interspersed by oak and other deciduous trees. There are some trails, as well as fences that are a bit difficult to cross. Most courses will encourage you to cross fences at open gates.

There are also areas of fight and some areas of poison oak (PO). The courses are designed to avoid the more severe areas of PO, but there will be some sections with small bare twigs, as the leaves have fallen off by now.

The footing is generally good, and expect fast running except for some of the hill climbs. The courses are not flat by any means, but the hills are generally reasonable for Bay Area standards.

Due to the low number of usable point features, many individual trees are mapped. This includes live trees (green circle), dead or partially dead standing trees (green X) and dead downed trees with visible root system in the air (rootstocks, brown X). There will be one short leg for the White and Yellow courses that is marked with small orange flags on thin wire posts about a foot tall. Similar flags are used to mark the route from the last control to the Finish.

Kent Ohlund

Sunday, November 16 – Classic, White and Yellow

Notes by Dennis Wildfogel:

The Start and Finish for White and Yellow on Sunday are right next to each other and only 70 m from registration. Do not take the shuttle buses if you are competing on White or Yellow!

Dennis Wildfogel

Sunday, November 16 – Classic, Orange through Blue

Notes by Dan Greene:

Welcome to the third day of O in the Oaks, where the courses are "classic" distance (similar to what is now called the "long" distance in IOF terminology). The courses are set on the high portion of the Joseph Grant North map. By using less-steep terrain near to the top of the ridge, we've been able to design courses that will be faster than expected for Bay Area terrain. However, there's still considerable vertical topology in the area—there are spectacular views from several controls that will distract you, and you'll need well thought out routes and accurate navigation to realize anything close to the optimal climbs. We hope you'll find the courses fun, scenic, and challenging. Good luck!

Course Statistics

You can see the course statistics for Sunday's courses here. We've aimed at the short end of the USOF suggested winning times (Orange 50 min., Brown 45 min., Green 50 min., Red 60 min., Blue 75 min.), with a further reduction of approximately 10% considering it's the third day of a three-day event. (The USOF winning times are for 100-point runners; fortunately we are expecting runners capable of USOF winning times on all of these courses). We hope the faster orienteers will enjoy the fast times. By designing the courses this way we're trying to avoid the long times and high DNF rates that can sometime trouble courses on this map.

Course Layout

To design faster courses on the Joe Grant North map, we have used the highest part of the map, where the reentrants are less deeply scored. The courses start and finish at this high level, so there will be shuttle buses both directions from the registration area (see the Logistics section below). To use the best part of the terrain, the courses are folded. In a few cases the course lines cross each other or are broken where they cross control circles; please pay attention to the numerals beside the control circles and visit the controls in the correct order.

Also, we conform to the more generous IOF rules on nearby control placement: 60 meters for similar features, and 30 meters for different features. Check the control codes carefully.

Steep Reentrants

The Joe Grant North map is distinguished by its steep reentrants. We've tried to set the courses high on the hillside to avoid the deeper reentrants, and we've matched the depth of reentrant crossings to the courses. For example, Red and Blue have considerably deeper reentrant crossings than Brown or Green. Nevertheless, we encourage all orienteers to be careful at the reentrant crossings—the banks can be loose and steeply eroded—look for nearby locations where it will be easier to cross.

For route choice, you will generally find that the routes that are higher on the hillside are faster and easier to run, but the courses have been designed so that this is not always the obvious choice, more-direct routes through deeper reentrants may offer better route choices—consider the altitude differences and the extra time required to safely cross the reentrants when you make your route choices.

Out of Bounds

The road on the South edge of the map is out-of-bounds due to the steep cliffs beside the road and poor visibility for vehicles traveling along the road. This road is not a good route choice or a good safety-bearing destination. The safety bearing is East to the fire road on the top of the ridge.

A portion of the reentrant in the center of the map is marked as out-of-bounds. It is significantly more rugged than shown on the map. For both safety and time loss reasons, your route choices should not cross this area. (This warning is relevant for Green, Red, and Blue participants who will have route choice options passing close to this area.)

Do not enter the water in the small pond; there is a study in progress.


The Start and Finish are near the top of the ridge on the Joe Grant North map. Shuttle buses will be running frequently from the registration area. To plan your pre-start, allow the following time:

Please try to make your assigned start time, but understand that we have scheduled the start times with extra spacing so that if you have any unexpected difficulties with these logistics just relax, you can be rescheduled to start a little later.

The walk to the Start will be marked with orange streamers. While you are walking to the Start, the area to your left (West) is off-limits; it's part of the competition area. The area to your right (East) is available for warm-up.

The walk to the Start will pass within 150 meters of the Finish, which is a nice place to hang out and leave your gear. Follow the blue streamers to the Finish, and return the same way via the blue streamers to resume your walk to the start; this will avoid entering the competition area. You do not need to pre-visit the Finish; if you prefer to proceed directly to the Start, you will find clothing return service to the Finish. Please do not expect backpacks, water bottles or other heavy objects to be transported from the Start to the Finish. You may drop-off such items at the Finish if you wish. Drinking water will be available in the vicinity of the Start.


The 1.5-km route to the Start should provide a good opportunity for warm-up. If you'd like additional space, use the terrain on your right that is East of the route to the Start. Once you reach the congregation area for the Start, you should avoid warming up North or West. Instead use the area South and East that you've just passed on the way to the Start.

Start Procedure

The start sequence will be as follows:

Please be warned that this procedure is different than procedures you may have used in the past, where you ran to a start triangle where you did not need to punch. You must punch at the first control.

Water Stops

There are no water stops at controls. Instead you will see six cups drawn on your map, marking water stops along a road that all the courses cross. These water locations are chosen to be near all of the likely route choices. Orange and Brown orienteers will cross this road approximately two-thirds of the way through their course; all other courses will have multiple opportunities to visit these water stops.

Mapping Conventions

The Joe Grant North map is the newest map of the event. There are only a few instances where you will find it slightly out of date: there are a few newly downed trees, and some of the thickets have expanded slightly from what is shown on the map.

Dead Trees: Green X or Green T

On the Joe Grant North map, green X's are used to map dead trees of various forms: standing trunk, fallen log, or rootstock. In special cases, where there is a fallen log with a prominently visible linear direction, the map shows a green T. The junction of the T marks the center of the feature and the longer vertical bar of the T shows the direction of the fallen log; it is not to scale; the length of the fallen log is not represented by the T. The green T's are rare; many fallen logs that are short, or with ambiguous direction, will still be represented as a green X. Both green X's and green T's will be shown in the control description as a lone tree with a "ruined" modifier. (Beware: The "ruined" modifier gives the impression that something has fallen over, but it also applies to a standing dead trunk.)

Unlike the Joe Grant South map used on Saturday, there are no brown X's on the Joe Grant North map, there is no distinction about "roots in the air", and there are no rootstock symbols in the control descriptions.

Lone Trees: Green O or Patch of White

Live lone trees are mapped with either a green O or a patch of white. If the lone tree is well separated from its neighbors, it will usually be mapped as a green O. If several lone trees are close enough together that their green O's would nearly touch each other on the map, then the mapper has shown this with a patch of white; sometimes a small white patch may represent as few as two lone trees. This can be confusing when you are trying to match lone trees in the terrain to green circles on the map. In the control descriptions a lone-tree symbol is used when there is a green O on the map, while a forest corner symbol is used when there is a patch of white on the map.

Rocky Ground: Fine Black Dots

There is considerable rock detail in portions of the Joe Grant North map. The mapper has adhered to a standard of mapping boulders only when they are larger than 1 meter. You will be surprised to find smaller boulders that are not mapped. Isolated small boulders do not appear at all on the map. Multiple small boulders may be mapped as rocky ground, using fine black dots that do not correspond to individual boulders. These small boulders are not used as control features.

The 1-meter threshold is not always applied in other Bay Area maps, where prominent, isolated small boulders will sometimes appear on the map.


The area of the courses has considerable animal traffic. Deer, cattle, and wild boar create larger than usual animal trails. These trails are not always mapped, and when they are mapped, they appear in short fragments, though in the field they will not have distinctive endpoints.


Safety Bearing: East to Ridge Top

If you get badly lost, the safest way to recover is to proceed East to the top of the highly visible open ridge, where you will find a prominent fire road that you can follow South to the parking lot.

Poison Oak

There is very little poison oak on the portion of the Joe Grant North map we are using for the classic courses on Sunday. The little poison oak that you will encounter is dry this time of year, and often completely without leaves, so it's much less likely to cause a reaction, but it's harder to see. If you think that you have touched poison oak, we recommend washing with Technu after the event.

Wild Boar

There is a herd of approximately 15 wild boar that roam along the ridge we are using. These creatures pose no significant risk, and will flee from you. However, a large herd of wild boar fleeing all at once will be very dramatic. (We have chosen our most fearless club members as early runners on Sunday.)

Reentrant Crossings

The deeper reentrants will have steep eroded banks that are not very visible to orienteers approaching from the hillsides. Please slow down and find safe places to cross.

Have a safe and enjoyable event!

Dan Greene