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Merritt College

Date: (Sun.) Sep. 7, 2008
Location: Oakland, CA
Event Director: - 510.681.6181
Course Setter: Rex Winterbottom
Type: C; White, Yellow, and Motala afternoon courses

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Event Write-Up



  1. Motala participants, please read carefully below, and contact me if you have anything to add.
  2. Photos and maps are posted here (

The campus was clear, crisp, empty, and relatively cool after the recent heat wave, making for a fine day of orienteering in the Oakland hills with grand views of the bay.

A few juniors, the Kopisch brothers, opted to do the Motala. Others did White, but we had no juniors on Yellow today. As the only "advanced" option, the Motala was quite popular with the adults. I'm happy to report that participants enjoyed the new map and getting around on the courses to the variety of places on campus. It seems the Motala had a few good challenges.

And perhaps a bad one, too. Now, for the lessons I learned (or relearned) in this event. Struggling to finish the map on the Thursday before the event, and then design and test courses, does not give you a lot of time for proper vetting. No one else tested the courses, or even looked at the courses on paper. One might guess that a college campus such as Merritt is "easy to navigate", and less in need of vetting scrutiny than our "complex wilderness areas." Quite the contrary—it's difficult to out-think all the possible situations and approaches of your participants in a place like this. A control put on a building corner was actually a building corner within a building corner, and the clue-sheet control description did not make this totally clear. Participants who approached from the north, and faced an impassable wall, had a harder time than those who came from the south and followed the building canopy.

The other lesson: educate the participants. I've known that many brazenly skip reading the Course Setter's Notes, both the ones posted Friday and available at the registration table at the event. Some important cues were missed. At most events, it doesn't matter as much as it did here for the fairness of the event. If I had just reminded folks of these two things during the Motala mass start speech (and also, instructed the start crew to remind all others):

You may not cross the olive-green areas on the map. These are mapped according to the 2007 ISSOM Sprint Standard as a "forbidden area." Most of these areas at Merritt were landscaped vegetation. My courses were designed to minimize the temptation to do this—the problem is, 20% of the map is that color. Most people were just clueless about this. But it did surprise me how many were willing to trash our reputation and endanger our permissions by trampling some of the nicer landscaping installed by Merritt's famed horticulture department.
You may not cross walls or fences marked as impassible by a thicker black line. This is for safety and fairness. Not everyone is tall. For the particular wall, most of it was unsafe to cross. Some taller folks could cross at a certain point, which happened to be near a pit control. One participant complained that after he had run around the wall in accordance with both international orienteering rules and the reminder in the course setter's notes about disqualification, he saw another participant jump over the wall by the pit. In hindsight, I could have avoided this problem by adding a control near the edge of the wall, perhaps at the staircase, but this would have simplified the original leg. Or I could have abandoned the pit control altogether.

This map sample image has examples of both the forbidden area landscaping and impassable walls. It would have been helpful to have an even better sample printed as a large image, labeled, and taped onto the registration table and somewhere at the start:


I am asking Motala participants to respond about these issues. I would appreciate your thoughts and feedback. Please respond to me personally if you're naming any names; do not broadcast them to the rest of the club. I also urge the nature of any communication to be respectful and constructive when describing what you observed. DSQs will be issued only to any who honestly report themselves; I was not a witness to any of the intentional or unintentional rule-breaking. For fairness and respect of the rules and the other participants, it is appreciated that you own up.

I think the lessons learned here are a real positive for moving forward for everyone in the club. In particular, there's a good lesson about education, especially with an IOF mapping standard (ISSOM 2007 Sprint) that even many of the veterans in the club do not know very well. I think naming the standard "Sprint" is somewhat misleading—Sprint courses necessitated the standard, but what it's really about is handling obstacles and covered passageways in urbanized terrain. We could have a training event focusing on this mapping standard for participants and course-setters.

Thanks to all who stepped up to help. Not only did people come from as far as the United Kingdom (perhaps this wasn't their primary objective on the trip), but we had many new faces, and some familiar ones reached out, especially George Minarik with his many beginners' clinics. Of the new faces, we signed up 4 new members. Early arrivers such as Jim Fish and Anne Gorby were wonderful for setup. Anne didn't do a course, she came with a mission to help the event succeed as a volunteer. Some who didn't sign up ended up helping, and thanks to those who responded to my second call. We event directors always appreciate knowing we have a good staff in advance! Please contact me if I missed you, I would love to add you to the list below.

Preliminary Thank-you's

Kirea Jebali: event consulting and permit
Collis Carkhum: event publicity
Merritt College staff: day-of-event facilities access
George Minarik: beginners' clinics, stuff
Steve Gregg: finishes
Neal Lischner: control pickup
Eileen Everett: control pickup
Mark Blair: control pickup, takedown
James Wilson: registration
Michelle Daher: results, stuff
Tapio Karras: routegadget
Harold Lischner: setup
Jim Fish: setup, finishes
Anne Gorby: setup, starts, results, takedown
Uglete Masalkovaite: slicing the watermelon
Andrejus Masalkovas: stuff
Manfred Kopisch: stuff
Philipp Kopisch: stuff
Bob Strauss: stuff
Daniel Kopisch: stuff
Vicki Woolworth: setup, finishes
Ben Legg: water run, stuff, control pickup

Preliminary Champions – Award Certificates

Junior Female, White Course: Emily Hann
Junior Male, White Course: No entrants
Junior Female, Yellow Course: No entrants
Junior Male, Yellow Course: No entrants
Women: Johanna Merriss
Men: Ben Legg
Senior Women: Jennifer Kerr
Senior Men: Steve Gregg


Merritt College

Oakland, CA
Sunday, September 7, 2008

  Pl  Name(s)                           Time

White Course     (1.0 km, 15 m climb, 10 controls)

   1  Emily Hann                        26:46
   2  Karina Masalkovaite               27:04
   3  Chris & Roxie Miles               28:26
   4  Victoria Loseva, Vladimir Losev   29:14
   5  Sarah Petersen                    41:32
   6  Katie Petersen                    44:52

Yellow Course    (2.5 km, 40 m climb, 14 controls)

   1  Mark Petersen                     22:43
   2  Janet Petersen                    27:50
   3  Barbara Kreiss, Vicki Woolworth   28:04
   4  Jayne, Ted, Will, & Nick Kluger   32:26
   5  Leo & Grant Nakamura              33:33
   6  Madeleine Pitcher                 35:05
   7  Denise & Linda Ebright,
        Kevin Harrington                35:08
   8  Michelle Daher                    36:58
   9  Isabel Ruiz group                 39:26
  10  Darren Fletcher, Andrey Losev     48:57
  11  Yelena Loseva                     60:35
      Eileen Everett                    74:02

      Bronwyn Caplinger                  DNF

Motala Course    (3.7 km, 85 m climb, 20 controls)

   1  Ben Legg                          23:12
   2  Roger Michel                      27:58
   3  Tapio Karras                      28:47
   4  Andrejus Masalkovas               28:57
   5  Manfred Kopisch                   29:03
   6  Steve Gregg                       29:11
   7  Wendell Doman                     29:37
   8  Dennis Wildfogel                  29:48
   9  Blas Lopez                        30:40
  10  Steve Harrison                    33:17
  11  Bruce Wolfe                       33:52
  12  Dan Greene                        34:43
  13  Philipp Kopisch                   34:44
  14  George Minarik                    35:13
  15  James Wilson                      36:10
  16  Wayne Caplinger                   38:32
  17  Nick Lanham, Oliver Wang          40:20
  18  Bob Strauss                       41:20
  19  Daniel Kopisch                    44:56
  20  Joe Maffei                        45:20
  21  Mark Blair                        46:01
  22  Johanna Merriss                   48:45
  23  Jeff Lanam                        53:18
  24  Neal Lischner                     54:00
  25  Terri Hunt                        55:25
  26  Jennifer Kerr                     57:07
  27  Marina Keating                    57:16
  28  Joan Roos                         58:58
  29  Rick Boyer                        59:03
  30  Jim Fish                          63:40
  31  Beth Dameron                      65:57

      Gary Kraght                        MSP
      Harold Lischner                    DNF
      Joe Scarborough                    DSQ


DNF = Did not finish (missed one or more controls)
MSP = Mispunched (one or more controls wrong)