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Indian Valley Open Space Preserve

Date: (Sat.) May. 7, 2016
Location: Novato, CA
Event Director: - 415.895.6039
Course Setter: Martin Kunz
Type: B; Full complement of courses, beginner through advanced

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

Late Notice: There will be a $4 parking fee. An explanation is below.

We hope everyone is ready for our annual spring fling at Indian Valley in Novato. Martin Kunz is the course setter this year. We will be offering all seven courses. Martin's course-setting style is somewhat different than we have seen over the past few years at Indian Valley, so be prepared!

The event is on May 7, which is a Saturday. Sunday is Mother's Day. Since the event is on Saturday, and the course setter needs time to put out all of the controls, there will be no starts before 10 AM. Registration will open at 9 AM as usual, but if you register early, you may be waiting for awhile until you can start your course.

Indian Valley is always a special place in the springtime, and Martin reports that, with the recent rains, it is even more verdant with more wildflowers. Also more poison oak ... bring your Technu.

Please consider volunteering to help at the event. No matter your skill set or experience, we can use you! We need several people to work on Starts, one or two people on Registration, any help on E-punch will be gratefully accepted, someone to give Beginner's Clinics, and lots of people are needed for control pickup.

Don't forget that the BAOC annual general meeting (AGM) will be held next to registration at 1:15 PM.

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 (no early starts!), 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/100KB)).

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!


The following fees apply at this event.

  $3 for juniors on beginner's and advanced beginner's courses
  $8 for adults on beginner's and advanced beginner's courses
  $5 for juniors on intermediate and advanced courses  
$12 member price for intermediate and advanced courses
$18 non-member price for intermediate and advanced courses
  $1 for a compass rental (optional)  
  $5 for an electronic fingerstick rental (if you don't own one, you'll need one to complete the course)
$15 for the lowest-cost individual one-year BAOC membership (optional)  

For extra people on a team, add $7 per adult for intermediate and advanced courses or $5 per adult on beginners' courses (with lower prices for juniors).

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.


The course stats are as follows:

    Course      Length      Climb    Controls
    White       2.5 km       55 m        8  
    Yellow      3.0 km      105 m       11
    Orange      4.2 km      205 m       19
    Brown       4.0 km      205 m       14
    Green       5.7 km      340 m       17
    Red         6.9 km      475 m       19
    Blue        7.7 km      485 m       21

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 beginner 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.

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).

See the Course Setter's Notes for more information.

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 $5. (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. In recent years it has been less vigorous than in some past years (some good news from the drought?), but we'll see what effect El Niño has. It looks like this. Washing clothes and shoes and bathing with dishwashing soap, or a commercial product such as Tecnu, is recommended to remove the irritant oil.

Course Setter's Notes

The terrain is "klein aber fein" (small but neat). It is quite steep, especially south of campus, but to my surprise it is quite easy to contour. This may be partly because the ground is not yet bone-dry and hard, but partly also due to numerous un-mapped deer trails. Be lucky and find them, or choose an alternate route on trails. I tried (and think succeeded) to incorporate some route-choice puzzles despite the small map. Be aware that how a crow flies is not always the fastest way.

The map is also remarkably clear of poison oak. There are some patches, mostly on the north side, but they are easy to spot and can be avoided, since they are in full spring juice.

Please respect the out-of-bounds areas, especially where I have set controls nearby (e.g., soccer and baseball fields).

Martin Kunz

Volunteers Needed

Gary Kraght, the Event Director, will be totally appreciative to anyone who can volunteer to help at the event, either before or after their run. Please send 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 lots of 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.

Note: There is a $4 parking charge, which is good for all day. Cars without parking permits may be ticketed. Our apologies for this late notice​—​we just became aware of it. We usually have the event on Sunday, when parking is free.

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