Old Oakland Orientouring, Oakland, Sunday 6/14/2009

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6/8 Event Update

Old Oakland is both a time capsule and a portal into the future. The new 1:5000 map has a lot more than city blocks - in many of those blocks, you'll be able to go "off the grid" and explore plazas and passageways. It should be lots of fun. After setting the score course, an optimum order to get all 20 was not immediately apparent, and before test running the course, I had to stop thinking about it and just settle on something. So it should be interesting too. I don't think there's been an orienteering experience anything like this in the Bay Area, although I must say this was inspired by running around a wonderful orienteering course in downtown Vancouver, and watching videos of the London City Race, an orienteering event in an older part of London.

Schedule and Costs

09:45 Registration opens (online registration recommended - $2 cheaper, and it makes the process smoother! Just show up and sign.)
10:15 Registration closes
10:20 Pre-start briefing - last minute updates and announcements about the course
10:30 Mass start
11:30 Nominal closing time (if you finish later, just make sure to check back in with me to let me know!)
12:00 Awards

Cost: $12 adults, $7 juniors, subtract $2 per person if each is registered online by 6:00 P.M. Saturday, June 13th. Juniors are expected to participate with a parent or guardian and may not go solo.

Note: The City of Oakland forbids the collection of money on city property. So, when you check in at the finish, you will get an envelope addressed to me for payment with a little bill inside it. Please make checks payable to Rex Winterbottom - not Terraloco. Thanks!


It's the concrete jungle! Meaning, 99% paved. The streets are aligned for the most part in a rectangular grid, but there are a few major diagonal streets. And not everything lines up - 13th St. is mostly nonexistent on this map. Sidewalks are fairly wide much of the time, and it will be worth your while to route yourself through the plazas between blocks. Enjoy the displays of gardening and vegetation and the many trees. A few public art spectacles will catch your eye, and don't forget the architecture. The Cathedral building! You'll never think you're running up or down a hill, it's so flat. Except when you're running up and down steps!


Brand new for this event! There are a few intricate areas which were complicated to map even at the 1:5000 scale. The map, in general, shows more detail in the public spaces - areas with lots of private space (for example, Preservation Park, and some city blocks with just housing) have minimal detail mapped - pretty much just the pathways. The 10 foot contours are very spread out, meaning this is a very flat area.

Since this is mapped to the 2007 ISSOM "sprint standard," make careful note of these points:
1. Olive green - there will be a lot of this on the map - do not go through it. It's either private property or landscaped gardening you shouldn't trample through.
2. Light gray sections within a dark gray building - this means you can pass through the building in the light gray area. Sometimes, it's to your advantage.
3. A thicker black line, whether it's a fence or a wall, means it's not crossable. So don't try it! Even if part of it seems crossable, it's mapped that way for a reason.

A few areas are under construction, including some whole city blocks. When it's a whole block, there's often no sidewalk. On the map, you'll see a purple cross-hatched region to denote areas under construction.


1. Score course: 20 checkpoints, 5.2 km distance "as the crow flies," minimal climb

There's a 10:30 mass start. Be registered by 10:15, or you can run it unofficially if you're late. Get as many of the 20 checkpoints as you can in any order you wish. To verify your presence at the checkpoints, you will have a question and answer sheet and a pencil - multiple choice, pretty straightforward questions. Expected fastest time: 35 minutes. Although there's a nominal one hour time limit, if you feel like getting them all, you don't have to return at 11:30. But please do check in with me so I know you're back okay, when you do finish.

Scoring: 5 points each. Late penalty: 5 points for each minute (or fraction thereof) late.

Awards: Certificates to top male and female finishers in these age groups: adult 18 - 40, submasters 41 - 55, masters 56 and up, family (groups 2 to 5, any ages.) I'm not having a junior category; for this event, I'm requiring that juniors participate with a parent or guardian.

2. Choose Your Own Adventure course: 4 checkpoints, 2.2 km to 2.7 km distance "as the crow flies," minimal climb

As this is an experimental course, I think your best deal is to do the score course first, then try this afterwards for fun. Your entry fee buys you both courses. There are actually 10 checkpoints on the course, but since you have choices, you will only need to visit 4 to finish. At the start, you will have a choice of two checkpoints to go to, and each of them has a map fragment taped at the site of the checkpoint feature. The first checkpoint you visit will have another choice of what to visit. The remaining checkpoints will just tell you the next location to visit. There are two "final checkpoints" which will direct you to the finish. There are actually 4 possible courses you can do, depending on how you choose, and a 500 m range of distances for those 4 courses - meaning that the longest is 500 m longer than the shortest, and the other two are in between.

Compared to the score course, this course has longer legs with more route planning.

A fun way to do this would be to start simultaneously in a group of 4 and then split evenly at each checkpoint so that each person does a different course. Time yourself, then share your time with me with your checkpoint numbers - I'll publish them. No awards though! This is unofficial and experimental, because who knows if the map fragments will remain at all 10 checkpoints? They probably will, but I can't guarantee it. As a precaution, I'll give each participant a sheet of paper with the "choice tree" with the 10 checkpoints, and you'll have your score course map with all the control numbers to follow your path through the "choice tree."


Cars, buses. You will have to cross many wide streets. Fortunately, it's extremely empty Sunday mornings in downtown Oakland. But I wouldn't recommend reading your map while you cross a street, and definitely look both ways.

You will come across people. A variety of people. Not many, but they're around. So be polite, and don't run too close to them. Certainly look up frequently enough so that you don't run into any of them!

Don't trip on the steps or run into obstacles. Watch where you are going. It's a different kind of running than forest and park running.


Shorts and running shoes should be great. It could be cool, so might be worth bringing a sweatshirt or jacket to put on after your run.


I will provide drinking water. The nearest public restroom is a few blocks away in Lafayette Square Park, at 11th St. and Jefferson - two blocks west to Jefferson, three shorter blocks south to 11th St.

And I'll have fruit and snacks you can enjoy too. By the way, Oakland Chinatown is just across Broadway between 10th St. and 7th St., and there are some wonderful dim sum establishments and bakeries. I'll provide a few samples from my favorite bakery... wish I knew the name, I just know where it is!

Original Event Announcement:

Preservation Park's Victorians, city hall plaza with the emblematic oak tree, the renovated Fox Theater - enjoy a tour of old Oakland as you navigate to find 10 to 15 checkpoints over 5 to 7 km. Bits of renewal are cropping up amongst the many classic, older buildings in the old town. The streets west of Broadway are quite under-utilized on a Sunday morning, making them easy to traverse. And much of the navigation will be off street, in the park spaces and public walkways between the streets on a new 1:5000 scale map. Two course options: a traditional score course or a "choose your own adventure" style course. Awards in age and gender categories. 10:30 mass start; be registered by 10:15. Courses close at 11:30. Social option to follow! Registration, start, and finish are in the ampitheater in front of Oakland City Hall, by the big oak tree, in Frank Ogawa Plaza.


Frank Ogawa Plaza is on the northwest corner of 14th and Broadway in downtown Oakland. City Hall is in Frank Ogawa Plaza. We're meeting in front of City Hall.

From Interstate 980, take one of the downtown Oakland exits, head east towards Broadway, and park near 14th St. and Broadway. Parking is free at metered spaces on Sunday.

Public Transit:

Exit the north end of the 14th St. BART station, and walk towards Oakland City Hall from the corner of 14th St. and Broadway. Almost all AC Transit lines coming from various directions stop near 14th St. and Broadway in downtown Oakland - the 1, 40, 51, 18, 72, 59, and so on... the 57 and NL stop 6 blocks away at 20th & Broadway.

Event Contact: Rex, 5 1 0 - 6 8 1 - 6 1 8 1, rex@terraloco.com

Old Oakland tour web page, City of Oakland