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Shell Ridge Open Space

Date: (Sun.) Feb. 12, 2023
Location: Walnut Creek, CA
Event Director:
Course Setter: Jay Hann
Type: B; Standard 7-course event for beginners through advanced

Course Setter’s Notes

By Jay Hann

I want to thank Martin Kunz and Gavin Wyatt-Mair for helping me with the course setting. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. Bill Cusworth and Finn Arilldsen (the creator of the Condes software) also did some map magic as well.

I hope you enjoy the courses.

Weather Forecast

It’s going to be great! It’s beautiful out there! Y’all come now!! The forecast is 54°F at course opening and 63°F at course closing. Sunny!

February 10th addition: The current weather forecast is even better than previously forecast. Yay!


Drinking water on the courses is minimal and might run out. Please be prepared to bring your own water.

Also be aware that no water will be available at the assembly area.


The White course is set to the British Technical Difficulty 1 standard, which is suitable for beginners with no orienteering experience.

The Yellow course is set to the British Technical Difficulty 2 standard, which is suitable for people with some orienteering experience (or who are good at reading topographic maps).

The Orange course is a potpourri of hilltops and saddles. A good exercise to prepare for the event would be to print a section of the map from the December 2021 event (from here (, and draw a circle on each hilltop. Then check with the other students (a group size of 5 to 8 is perfect) to see who found the most hilltops, and correct your map by adding the ones you missed. Then do the same for saddles by marking them with an “X”. This will train your eyes to see these implied features that are invisible to many Orange runners.

The Short Brown and Brown courses are siblings, and cousins to Green, Red, and Blue. That means Short Brown is a subset of Brown, and both involve advanced navigation like their longer cousins.

The Green, Red, and Blue courses are siblings, meaning they are subsets or supersets of each other. Like the Brown courses, these courses involve advanced navigation, differing only in physicality. Want more running? Add an Orange course for something new.

February 10th addition: There is a topographically interesting quarry near the assembly area, and I have set up a 700-meter course with only contours on the map. This course can be done before or after your regular course. The map scale is 1:1500 and the contour interval is 60 cm! This is a fun opportunity to learn and practice your contour skills.

Course statistics

    Navigation      Course         Length       Climb     Controls  Map Scale
    Beginner        White          1.7 km     40 m  2.4%     11       7,500  
                    Yellow         3.4 km    140 m  4.1%      8       7,500
    Intermediate    Orange         4.2 km    290 m  6.9%     12      10,000  
    Advanced        Short Brown    2.7 km    155 m  5.7%      6      10,000  
                    Brown          4.0 km    225 m  5.6%      9      10,000
                    Green          5.6 km    255 m  4.6%     12      10,000
                    Red            7.4 km    395 m  5.3%     15      10,000
                    Blue           8.8 km    475 m  5.4%     20      10,000

Beginners should be aware that the lengths shown are the cumulative straight-line distances between controls. The climb numbers represent the amount of ascending that would be done on the “optimum route” (i.e., in the Course Setter’s opinion), without regard for any descending. Because you won’t travel in straight lines, and might not follow the optimum routes, your actual distance and climb will be somewhat more than what is shown above, and will depend on your route choices (and any errors you make).

Safety & Hazards

Poison oak is currently not very visible. It is in the naked-twig stage, but should still be avoided.

Horses have the right-of-way! If you encounter a horse, you must stop and say something to the rider (i.e., so the horse knows you’re a person), and follow the rider’s directions.

Mud is slippery. Grass is not slippery, and is fairly short, so footing off trail is excellent and fast.

No ticks have been found yet, but always check yourself “just in case”.


Deer were gathering on the saddles, but wouldn’t let me get closer than 300 meters. I also saw red-tailed hawks. Gavin saw a rabbit, some ground squirrels, lots of birds, and frogs.


The map is reasonably accurate. Exceptions are mainly in vegetation​—​some trees have fallen, some have grown, and the map hasn’t been updated yet.

Some maps will be printed on waterproof, tear-proof paper. Please report your experience with this paper and print quality, since we are testing it prior to this summer’s California Orienteering Festival (


The terrain is oak-studded hills with extensive grassy areas interspersed with streams. It is very run-able. The courses should be fast, but the hills can be steep in places.

SPORTident E-punch

All the courses require an E-punch finger stick. Sticks can be rented for $5 if you don’t have one. All the controls are configured in “beacon mode”, so SIAC (aka Air+) E-sticks will work​—​as well as all the other SPORTident models used in the regular insert-the-stick mode.