Joaquin Miller Results

November 3, 1998

by Joe Scarborough, meet director

This fall, we got our 15 minutes of fame when "Bay Area Backroads," the popular local show that airs on KRON-TV (Channel 4 in most areas), asked to film an event. Unfortunately, they could only shoot during the week, so we put together this Tuesday outing, which drew a surprisingly large (and exciting) crowd - everyone from BAOC stalwarts to a second-grade class to the Oakland SWAT team! Even on-camera host Doug McConnell ran a short course. Below are the complete results.

The resulting 6-minute segment gave a very good presentation and explanation of orienteering. It first aired on Sunday, November 29, and was rerun several times, in addition to appearing on the Bay Area Backroads website. (We also have videotapes available for outreach events and other activities.) Also check out the photo page I put together describing the event.

Designing Courses for Spectactors and Cameras

There are two problems with orienteering as a spectator sport: It takes place in the forest, for the most part out of sight; and competitors are separated in time and distance. My solution was to devise a format that provided a lot of close-in action and a measure of head-to-head competition without the problem of following. I figured that a spectator-friendly event would suit the cameras as well as show that orienteering is indeed a legitimate sport, not just the offbeat pastime too often presented on the feature page.

While all "Bay Area Backroads" may have expected was a gathering of a few orienteers for a demonstration, my feeling was that an actual event would give a much better feel for what orienteering is like. I was pleasantly surprised that a large turnout provided the right activity and atmosphere, which was well-captured by host Doug McConnell, producer Michael Rosenthal, and cameraman Jack Uhalde.

Well-attended White and Yellow courses showed off the breadth of the sport with a mixture of strollers, second-graders learning map reading, and the Oakland SWAT team taking in the Yellow course as training. I had the pleasure of taking Doug around a short course I put together for the purpose. What you saw on TV was not concocted, but were his actual experiences, typical for a new orienteer.

For advanced orienteers, the special format was a modified Motala (named after a Swedish town), or one-man relay, changed to the degree it could be renamed the "Oakland" (named after a California town). Rather than a mass start, flights of three seeded runners raced together, running separate short circuits of approximately equal distance.

A Good Time Was Had by All

This event and its reception was one of the most rewarding I can remember as an organizer. To my knowledge, everything went right: James had to get back to a meeting, so he served as the early runner and pace-setter. Bruce Wolfe warmed up the crowd with a solo run before the main attraction. Both James and Bruce are so familiar with these woods that there would be no point in including them in the competition. James ran nearly half a minute faster than my design time for him, and Bruce smashed his estimated time by a minute and a half.

Runners were seeded so that Wyatt Riley, Neal Barlow, and Dan Stoll-Hadayia made up the first flight. Dan was left behind by an error on the first lap, as Neal finished the first loop one second ahead of Wyatt. They were five seconds apart at the second changeover - keep in mind that they do not see each other until the final control common to each loop. Wyatt closed the gap on loop 3 to win by a second in front of the cameras!

On the White course, Barbara Robben showed good form, finishing ahead of Evan Custer (slumming) and the Haag and Ohlund girls, who paid no attention to the camera as they planned leg 6.


Coming soon