Photo gallery image (click to enlarge)

Indian Valley Open Space Preserve

Date: (Sun.) Apr. 6, 2014
Location: Novato, CA
Event Director: - 415.895.6039
Course Setter: Mark Prior
Type: B; Middle-distance courses, White through Blue

Please note that fees and time limits apply. Events are typically not canceled due to bad weather.

After a year hiatus, BAOC returns with our traditional spring event on the Indian Valley campus and surrounding hills, where in past years we have co-mingled with amplified swim meets, unannounced campus construction, and motorcycle training events. No such surprises are expected this year. Instead, the surprises are all good. Mark Prior has designed a full range of courses, from White (beginner) through Blue (long advanced), that will traverse the oak-covered hillsides and meadows.

As of March 29, the Northern California storm window has finally opened, with many rain showers forecast. It is unknown whether event day will be sunny or rainy, but the ground should be soft, and perhaps muddy in spots.

Over the past couple of days, the Event Director has seen white, yellow, and purple iris, lupine, poppies, and many other flowers while vetting the courses. Wildlife seen includes deer, turkeys, and rabbits.

What is Orienteering?

An adventure! Discover the outdoors and discover yourself! You can explore a course by yourself or go as a team with your friends. You will get a highly detailed orienteering map, probably unlike any map you have seen before. The map will have a lot of detail on it, such as fences, boulders, lone trees, vegetation boundaries, and anything else you might see. Your course will be printed on the map.

Orienteering is easy to learn, a challenge to master, and incredibly fun!


  9:00 AM – Registration opens (closes at noon sharp​—​no latecomers!)
  9:30 AM – Beginner's clinic instruction available (free)
10:00 AM – Starts open, you can start on courses anytime until 12:30
  2:00 PM – Courses close, checkpoint pick-up begins

At registration, all juniors must be accompanied by parents or legal guardians, or bring with them a waiver signed by their parent or legal guardian (the registration form is available here (PDF/38KB) (

Beginner's clinics are repeating sessions that provide an introduction to orienteering and enough instruction to be able to complete a beginner (White) course. The sessions will continue until 10:30–11:00 (they could stop earlier if there is no more demand).

Please note that everyone must return to the Finish by 2:00 PM, and check in at E-punch, even if you don't complete your course. We need to account for all participants, because otherwise we must organize a search party for you.

After you finish, enjoy free snacks and refreshments, and socialize with other participants!


  $3 for juniors on beginner's and advanced beginner's courses
  $6 for beginner's and advanced beginner's courses (members & non-members)
  $5 for juniors on intermediate and advanced courses
$10 member price for intermediate and advanced courses
$15 non-member price for intermediate and advanced courses
$15 for the lowest-cost individual 1-year BAOC membership
  $1 for a compass rental
  $3 for an electronic fingerstick rental (if you don't own one, you'll need it to complete the course.)
  $6 per vehicle parking fee collected by the park at the entrance gate

For extra people on a team, add $3 per person on beginner’s courses or $5 per person for intermediate and advanced courses.

More information about event pricing is available in the club FAQ.

Location within the Park

Registration and E-punch will be at the normal spot, adjacent to the college swimming pool. All the courses will finish close to registration.

There will be two Start areas:


The White course is perfect for first-timers and families with small children. It is a beginning-level orienteering course that is completely on trails and paths.

The Yellow course is advanced beginner level, mostly along trails, but with easy cross-country opportunities available. If you wish, you can do both courses at this event, as there will be no overlapping controls.

The Orange course is intermediate level, but physically long and tough. This is a great course for adventure racers and others with stamina and enthusiasm, or anyone who wants to see stunning views of the San Francisco Bay from the top of the ridge south of the campus.

The Brown, Green, Red, and Blue courses are difficult both technically and physically. These will be "Middle"-style courses, with many controls and fine map-reading required.

The course statistics are as follows:

    Course     Length     Climb   Controls
    White      2.3 km      45 m       9  
    Yellow     2.6 km      85 m      12
    Orange     4.3 km     300 m      13
    Brown      2.7 km     135 m      14
    Green      3.3 km     180 m      17
    Red        3.9 km     175 m      19
    Blue       4.6 km     205 m      22

Beginners should be aware that the course lengths above represent the cumulative straight-line distances between the controls. The actual distance you will travel will depend on your route choices (and any errors you might make), and will certainly be somewhat longer. The climb numbers represent the amount of ascent one would experience on the "optimum route", without regard for any decent along the course.

There are unmapped trails everywhere, which often are quite distinct and runnable for short distances. These trails may have been created by animals, mountain bikers, orienteers, and adventurous hikers, or some combination thereof, but if you find them, they can be quite helpful. Also be warned: the advanced courses go through some areas with steep slopes that can be potentially dangerous (shoes with cleats are definitely desirable).

What to Bring

For beginners' courses, comfortable outdoors attire and shoes are fine.

For intermediate and advanced courses, leg cover or gaiters are recommended, as well as shoes with some extra grip on the sole. The courses will be steep!

A compass is not necessary, but can be helpful. We have compasses available for a $1 rental fee.

We time the courses with the SPORTident system; a SPORTident finger stick can be rented for $3. (Use of the "E-punch" system is easy. You can learn how at the event, or read about it here.)

Venue Facilities

Water fountains and flush toilets are available, as well as a large sunny lawn, so please feel free to bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy after you finish your course.


Participants on the intermediate and advanced courses should be aware that the park has some poison oak that you will want to avoid. It seems to be more vigorous than in some past years, but it is mostly low-growing and avoidable. It looks like this. Washing clothes and shoes and bathing exposed areas with dishwashing soap, or a commercial product such as Tecnu, is recommended to remove the irritant oil.

Volunteers Needed

Because the event will have two Start areas, Gary will be totally appreciative to anyone who can volunteer to help with starts, either before or after their run. Please drop an email if you can help out. Rosemary Johnson is always looking for help at E-punch, so if that interests you, let or know.

And, finally, the event will use 56 control units, many in remote locations. So help with control pick-up is essential. You don't need to let Gary know before the event (although you can if you wish), but please plan on helping to pick up controls afterwards if you are an experienced orienteer and can fit it into your schedule. If you are in a carpool and can talk your carpool buddies into it, even better!! Courses will close, and control pickup will begin, at 2:00 PM sharp.

Driving Directions

To get to the Indian Valley campus, take Highway 101 through Marin County to southern Novato, and exit at Ignacio Blvd. Go west on Ignacio Blvd as far as you can go, where it terminates at the College of Marin Indian Valley campus entrance. Follow the campus road to its end, and park in the huge parking lot.

There's a map here that shows the location of the event.