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Sprint San Diego 2024 Course Notes

By Rex Winterbottom (BAOC)
  1. I'm so excited for these 5 fun events on new maps in a world-class city. It's an orienteering fantasy. I recommend not picking and choosing. We didn't design any throwaway or filler events; they all have diverse challenges and formats.

  2. You don't need to be elite to enjoy this. Just give a serious look at the clue sheet, and you'll be fine. There's a simple and enjoyable route to each checkpoint. The courses are designed to appeal to everyone by being interesting, offering a variety of orienteering terrains and leg styles, while providing magical glimpses of San Diego's wonders.

  3. Besides Clue Sheets... it helps to be familiar with the most recent mapping standards. These course notes have a basic guide on the footer of each page, including this one. For better practice, go on World of O, find a recent sprint event map from Europe, and try to figure out how you'd get around on it. And take solace knowing that it won't be as hard as any of these events. Though Mesa College comes closest to being an international-head-scratcher.

If you haven't been on a recently produced (2022 or later) Sprint Map, familiarize yourself with ISSprOM 2019-2 "style" maps ... a good starting point is this article, look at the first map. TL;DR: (at least look at the map there though!)

  1. Areas with alternating diagonal white and colored stripes are passable at two levels -- for example, beige and white means pavement on top, tunnel underneath. Gray and white means that inside a building there are _at least_ two levels you can roam around in that area.

  2. Non-multilevel canopy -- where you can cross through buildings -- is colored light grey, as opposed to the dark grey of an impassable building interior.

  3. Thick Black Lines are uncrossable fences or walls. These are obstacles to go around. It may be possible to cross some, but it's dangerous, illegal, unfair, etc. 

  4. Olive Green Areas are mapped to identify flowerbeds and gardens you shouldn't run through as well as out of bounds or forbidden areas.
    Items 2, 3, and 4 are illustrated on the Mesa map fragment below. 

Mesa College (Saturday 10am)

Map Scale: 1:3000, 2.5m contours
Controls: 18
Length: 2.5km as the crow flies, "sprint" length 3.4km around obstacles
Climb: 45m - 2 mesa climbs
Gear: Lightweight running shoes, shorts
Key Details: Map-flip at checkpoint 10


A. Mesa College is mostly buildings and pavement, with a few patches of grass and vegetated areas you get to go through.

B. Read further down about the mapping style ... you definitely need to read your clue sheet, as some checkpoints are in places mapped as 2 OR MORE levels, and you need to know whether to be on the upper or lower level, and find the stairway or ramp that gets you there! This is very much a "3D" course!

C. In general the Clue Sheet will be necessary throughout the course. At many orienteering events you can just "run to the center of the circle and see a bag." Don't rely on that here. Read ahead on the map and plan your route into the checkpoint.

D. Arena and Spectating: Near the start are 2 spectator controls. They are visited "halfway," the second being the map flip, and that 2nd one is also the "Go" control. Start and Finish are both within 100m of the check-in area.

Vacation Isle (Saturday 2pm)

Map Scale: 1:4000, 2.5m contours
Controls: 15
Length: 3.2km as the crow flies, "sprint" length 3.6km around obstacles
Climb:  30m
Gear: Lightweight running shoes, shorts
Key Details: 2 Bridge undercrossings; "passable" Private Resort with Public Beaches

A. Vacation is mostly parky-grassy with scattered trees, with a quarter of it a densely-packed resort with many buildings and roads and paths which you can navigate between the public areas. There will be a route choice possibility of a significant stretch of sandy (beach) running.

B. The Mapping Style caveats apply here too, while not as tricky as Mesa, you have to navigate 2 bridge overpass underpasses, and you must only take mapped paths, roads, and stairs through the resort that's colored mostly olive green (forbidden.) Even if some of it looks like grassy lawns! There's a Special Symbol for Picnic Area that looks like an "up arrow", please go around them if occupied.

C. There's a Superhighway that Bisects the map. Do not cross it. You will use the underpasses on the South and North end of the island to get from one side of the island to the other.

D. Logistics: Start and finish are close to the check-in spot.

Waterfront (Sun 10am)

Map Scale: 1:4000, 2.5m contours
Controls: 15
Length: 2.5km as the crow flies, "sprint" length 2.8km around obstacles
Climb: 15m, pancake-flat
Gear: Lightweight running shoes, shorts
Key Details: Be nice to pedestrians - foot/bike traffic

A. The Waterfront has a wonderful variety of habitats, all runnable, and they get more clogged with visitors as they day goes on, thus we make this the first event of the day.

B. Map interpretation still applies, but not as intensely as at Mesa. The tricky section is the shopping village! Some building canopies and walls to navigate.

C. The Picnic Area Symbol is back... Looks like an "Up Arrow"

D. Logistics: The Start is close to check-in. The Finish is about a 500m walk back

Balboa (Sun 2pm)

Map Scale: 1:3000, 2.5m contours
Controls: 15
Length: 2.6km as the crow flies, "sprint" length 3.4km around obstacles
Climb: 55m (kinda hilly)
Gear: Mostly fine for shorts/sneakers but some parts are better handled by aggressive tread and you might like leggings vs. shorts
Key Details: The main park road has slow traffic but you'll cross it a few times


A. Balboa Park is a World-Class Sprint Venue, a lovely blend of wildlands, parklands, and different kinds of cities of buildings within it. You'll get to taste it all! Some chunks of it were under construction at the time of mapping, so the course designs avoid those areas.

B. Only Mesa is trickier for the map interpretation, and Balboa's special challenge is the diversity of habitats you'll navigate through. Keeps you on your toes! There's a Special Symbol for Picnic Area that looks like an "up arrow", please go around them if occupied.

C. Logistics: Start is close to the check-in spot, and the Finish is about a 100m walk back.

Presidion (Mon 10 am)

Map Scale: 1:3000, 2.5m contours
Controls: 27
Length: 4.0km as the crow flies, "sprint" length 4.5km around obstacles
Climb: 220m, pretty hilly
Gear: If super-competitive, O-shoes and pants
Key Details: Mass start, Map flip, 2 butterfly loops


A. The Presidio packs a lot of punch in a small area. And a pretty steep gradient from sea level to a small mountain top. Like Balboa but a bit less developed and more rugged, with interesting historical remnants, like a long fort wall.

B. Map interpretation still applies, and the gotcha this time will be so much "forest orienteering," and then all of the sudden you have to switch to urban mode for short sections.

C. It's Not Really a Traditional Motala... but because there are 2 butterfly loops, there are 4 different course variations. Like a traditional motala, everyone will finish with the same last legs or section of the course. Perhaps it's a "Sprint Goat" with no skip??

D. Roads with Traffic Crossings... there is a boulevard running through the park you will need to cross a few times and another road to cross too. The North edge of the map has a busier road which you cannot run on but you can run in the rough open that borders it.

E. "Social" trails... not all indistinct paths are mapped.

F. Mass-Start and Logistics: Mass start! We'll have a few extra units and bags at the first checkpoint. Start and finish are close to check-in.

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