<em>O in the Oaks 2013</em>

O’ in the Oaks 2013

2013 U.S. Ultra Long Championships

Pacheco State Park

Date: Nov. 9 - 10, 2013
Location: Hollister, CA
Event Director: - 510.558.7484
Course Setters: François Léonard, Dennis Wilkinson
Type: A; Middle-distance courses on Saturday, the U.S. Ultra Long Championships (with a mass start) on Sunday (preregistration has closed, but registration will be possible at the event)

Course Setters' Notes

By François Léonard and Dennis Wilkinson

General Comments


Pacheco is very pleasant this time of year. Much of the map is open land, and in the Ultra Long terrain the grass is predominantly short and was grazed this spring. It will be brown unless we get a big rain in October (as we did in 2011), but even then the new grass would be very short by Nov. 10. Surprisingly little of the open land in the Ultra Long area is cheatgrass (aka drooping brome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bromus_tectorum)), which is the one that embeds sharp spears in your shoes and socks. Runners on Saturday, and Red and Blue runners on Sunday, might encounter enough to be annoying, though.

The dirt is relatively hard in the open areas, and will stay that way unless we get rain. The ground is softer in some forest areas, especially where wild pigs have torn it up (this is relatively common). Cleats will probably be fastest, although Dennis did set the course in trail runners without trouble.

The white forest is fast and open. Light, medium green, and single-slash undergrowth areas are typically stands of bushes or small trees, often with ways to zigzag between them. Dark green is typically chamise, and is pretty slow, but not always completely impassible.

Finally, unmapped cattle paths are a significant feature Pacheco. You will often find a trail going the direction you want, particularly if you are contouring or crossing a reentrant, but almost none of these are mapped.


Poison oak is present but rare at Pacheco. We saw it in bush form in some green/undergrowth areas, rarely as a climbing vine, and almost never as small ground shrubs in the forests. It has lost its leaves in almost all cases by now, and while the stalks do have the urushiol oil, concentrations seem to be lower than in the leaves.

Fences are barbed wire. Typically, the posts are not that strong anymore, but the wire is still mostly present, so your fastest, safest option is almost always to roll under. We do not recommend jumping the fences.

Course Setter's Notes – Middle-distance Courses

Course Setter: François Léonard

The terrain at Pacheco is characterized by sparse oak forest with extensive, dense, and undulating contours. Because of the nature of the terrain, the Middle courses will be less technically demanding than would normally be the case; in addition there will be significant climb.

The Middle courses will serve as the model event for the U.S. Ultra Long Championships on Sunday.

Course Statistics

   Course     Length     Climb    Controls
   White      2.2 km      40 m        8
   Yellow     3.1 km      65 m       11
   Orange     2.8 km     160 m       10
   Brown      2.1 km     150 m       10
   Green      2.9 km     200 m       10
   Red        3.6 km     235 m       14
   Blue       4.3 km     250 m       18

Map and Terrain

The map scale is 1:10000 with 5 m contours. Open green circles denote distinct trees. White patches of forest usually represent a group of trees. Differentiating distinct trees from white patches of forest can require some interpretation. In some areas the boulder and cliff detail can be difficult to read; for example, two close small cliffs may appear as a boulder at first glance​—​look at the control descriptions. Boulders and cliffs are often on hillsides, so their height does not necessarily appear the same when coming from different directions​—​the boulder and cliff heights indicated in the control descriptions are on the side that the control is on. Please refer to the notes for the Ultra Long courses for additional information.

There will be many controls in the terrain, with some of them close together: Keep in mind that (per the Rules for Orienteering USA Sanctioned Events (http://orienteeringusa.org/rules)) they can be as close as 30 m if on different features (e.g., a lone tree and a boulder), and 60 m if on similar features (e.g., two boulders). Be sure to verify the control numbers carefully when punching.

Start and Finish Locations

The White and Yellow Start and Finish are next to the assembly area.

The competitors on the advanced courses will have to walk 2 km (65 m climb) from the assembly area to the Start, then walk 1 km (30 m climb) from the Finish back to the assembly area. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the advanced starts.

Important Note: The walk to the advanced Start overlaps in places with the White and Yellow courses. Please be respectful of the White and Yellow competitors, give them right of way, and do not block control visibility.

There will be a clothing return to Registration, if you want to take extra clothing to the Start.

Start Procedure

Competitors should CLEAR and CHECK their SI-cards, and make their way to the first call-up line at the Start, at four (4) minutes before their start time.

"T" Minus 4 Minutes: 
Orienteers report to the Call-Up Area. Once checked-in the competitor proceeds to the Hold Line and places his/her SI-card card in the CHECK unit and picks up control descriptions. Control descriptions will also be reproduced on the map.
"T" Minus 2 Minutes: 
Orienteers move from the Hold Line to the Start Line where the start procedure will be explained. Runners pick up their map, but they must not look at the map. Runners should write their bib numbers on the back of their maps with a felt pen. Start workers will check the maps to be certain the right course has been picked up.
"T" Zero: 
Orienteers punch the START control and begin their course.

If someone misses their start time, the Start staff will find an empty time slot for them, but there might be a substantial wait.


Some areas of the map have patches of medium or dark green, as well as bushes mapped as green solid dots. These can have poison oak. It is not necessary to crash through any of these to get to the controls.

Some of the hillsides are steep and slippery due to dry grass, and there are a few small areas with small stones on the ground that make footing less stable.

Course Setter's Notes – Ultra Long Courses

Course Setter: Dennis Wilkinson

Map and Terrain

The map scale is 1:10,000 for all the courses, with 5 m contours. As these are Ultra Long courses, the maps will be quite large (17"x22" for Red and Blue). Map features are as described for the Middle courses.

Course Statistics

   Course           Start        Length     Climb    Controls
   White            Interval     2.7 km     110 m       13
   Yellow           Interval     3.6 km     150 m       13
   Orange           Interval     6.1 km     400 m       10
   Classic Brown    Interval     4.4 km     200 m       11
   Brown            Mass         6.7 km     350 m       10
   Green            Mass         8.5 km     500 m       11
   Red              Mass        13.7 km     750 m       17
   Blue             Mass        18.0 km     950 m       24

Pacheco is not extremely challenging from a navigational standpoint. It is perfect for an Ultra Long event! The main differentiators at this event are likely to be route choice, physical fitness, ability to navigate steep hillsides and contours, and possibly ability to differentiate between individual trees, copses, and forests on the map.

Climb is relatively significant on all the advanced courses, although the course was designed to give you contouring options in many cases. The steepness is maybe a bit less than average for the Bay Area in many places on the Ultra Long, but significant nonetheless. (The Middle courses use terrain that is generally steeper, by comparison.)

We are offering a "Classic" length Brown course, with staggered starts, for volunteers who can't make the mass start or Brown runners desiring a shorter course. The navigational challenge is around the same as that of the Ultra Long advanced courses. The total climb is not huge, but there are steep sections. There are also some fence crossings.

Orange is classic length, with staggered starts, and is relatively physical, with some steep climb and lots of off-trail route options. However, the controls are on distinctive, large features and visibility is good.

The White and Yellow courses are also classic length with staggered starts. Runners will have to travel along fences, as well as on paths and roads. In most cases there is a worn (cattle?) path along the fence line. Along two legs of White and Yellow, the mapped path is faint and we added some flagging to indicate where to go. Yellow controls are some distance off the path in a few cases. On one of the Yellow legs, there is no viable path or fence option, and we will place flagging to indicate one possible route for that leg.

Start Location and Procedures

The Start location for all the courses on Sunday is 1 km south (40 m climb) of the registration area, so allow yourself 15–20 minutes to walk. The Finish is back at the assembly area. The Mass Start will be at 9:00 AM. Maps will be handed out and instructions given at 8:45 AM, but you must not look at the map until the actual start.

There will be a clothing return to Registration, if you want to take extra clothing to the Start.

Mass Starts (Brown, Green, Red, Blue)

Here is the procedure for the Mass Start:

  1. We will have a large start triangle on the ground marked with surveyor's tape. This will correspond with the start triangle on the map, and will be the area people congregate at for the mass start.
  2. There will be no START unit. People will still need to CLEAR and CHECK (the CHECK unit is an important way to have a record of who went out). The official mass start time will be put into the results computer.
  3. Maps will be prepared in map cases and handed out to the competitors 15 minutes in advance, along with verbal instructions/announcements from the event director. Maps are not to be looked at until the actual start. Clue sheets will be available at the same time.
  4. The Start staff will ensure you have the right map, and that you have punched the CHECK unit, so that we know that you are on the course.

Interval Starts (White, Yellow, Orange, Classic Brown)

The procedure will be very similar to that used for the Middle courses (see above). The Start area will be at the same location as the Mass Start (15–20 minutes walk from the registration area).


Dennis observed coyotes, deer, elk, many ground squirrels, and a large wild boar while setting the courses. Of these, the squirrels are the biggest hazard, or actually, their holes are. While a group of pigs could be a danger, that is extremely unlikely, as is a mountain lion encounter. Poison oak was discussed above, and shouldn't be a major concern. Ticks are out of season​—​we had none after many hours in the terrain.

You will be relatively exposed to the sun, and these are long courses, so take a moment at the water controls if you need it. There should be plenty of water, but you might even consider carrying a CamelBak for extra water. It might also be a good idea to drink a good amount of water before you start. Consider taking a Gu or sugary snack to eat after the first hour.

Barbed-wire fences are another potential hazard, as discussed above. Rolling under is the safest option.