You will score checkpoint visits by texting us the answer to the question on your scorecard. Checkpoint visits will be instantly tabulated, and scores available upon the teams' return. If you'd rather not use the cellphone for any reason, you can instead circle answers on the paper scorecard. More details are here...
This is the map that was used for the 2011 Mill Valley Street Scramble:
The Street Scramble Experience
Street Scramble races can be enjoyed by anyone who (a) can travel under their own power for 90 minutes—walking, running, biking, or moving in a wheelchair; (b) can follow a street map; and (c) likes to explore.
(Strollers and power wheelchairs are OK for those who need them. If you can't read a map, you can be on a team with someone who can.)
When you arrive at a Street Scramble event, you will check in (some events don't sell out and allow onsite registration). Then, a half hour before the start time, you will receive a map with thirty-one checkpoint locations circled. Each circle has a number between 10 and 99. The point value of the checkpoint is equal to its number rounded down to the tens; for example, Checkpoint 35 is worth 30 points; Checkpoint 12 is worth 10 points. You will also receive a scorecard with a description of a feature to be found at each checkpoint, such as "Statue of woman" or "Public pier".
You (together with your team, if you have a team) will then plan which checkpoints you will try to visit, and in what order. You can visit as many or as few checkpoints as you want, and in any order. Your team will need to stay together at all times. You can change your plan as you go along, but it's very helpful to at least start with some kind of plan.
A few minutes before the start there will be a pre-Scramble-race briefing, at which the event director will review rules and safety. There will be a countdown to the start, after which you will head out to visit checkpoints. Again, your team must stay together at all times. Checkpoints are found at the precise centers of the circles on the map. When you arrive at a checkpoint location, look for the feature described on the scorecard.
At most locations, you will need to answer a simple multiple-choice question, found on your scorecard, to prove you were there. Example:
35 Statue of woman: What is the last word on the plaque next to the statue?
If you are not using the electronic scoring system, circle the correct answer on the scorecard and proceed to another checkpoint. Also write down the time of your checkpoint visit.
The other electronic option is available at all checkpoints, and involves sending us, the organizers, a text message with your answer to the question on the scorecard. For example, suppose you are Team 191 and the correct answer to the question at Checkpoint 35 is (a), "Arts". You will send, to the phone number we provide at registration, a message with the text
and you will get back a confirmation message that says
Team 191 Checkpoint 35 Answer A at 10:31:23.
To participate in the 90 minute division, you must return to the event center within 90 minutes. To participate in the 3 hour division, return within 3 hours; and within 7 hours, for the 7 hour option. You can decide which option you want while you're out there, with one exception: you cannot upgrade to the 7 hour option from a shorter course. Returning on time requires planning!
Our maps run the gamut from specially surveyed and produced city and wilderness maps to improved USGS topographic maps, and sometimes include off-the-shelf (off-the-screen?) maps. We use information from a variety of sources. Our maps only have a few street names on them, so it will be important for you to keep track of where you are on the map.
It is perfectly fine to utilize other maps you may bring, or to look at a map on your smartphone. You can also use the phone's GPS; any GPS units, altimeters, and pedometers are all fair game—but please don't get so distracted by the gadgets as to lose track of vehicle traffic!
When you return, you will turn in your scorecard; if you used electronic scoring, your score will be ready and waiting for you. (In case your phone turns out to be less sweat-resistant than you thought, we can handle answers that are partially submitted electronically and partially handwritten.) All team members must finish together at the same time; your official finish time is when the last team member arrives at the finish line. It is important to be on time because you will lose points for each minute you are late. We will keep your scorecard, but you get to take your map home with you. If your answers are handwritten, we will tally your score while you enjoy refreshments, included in your entry fee. After refreshments, awards will be given out for those with the highest scores in different divisions and categories.
As a minimum, we will award the best men, women, and mixed teams in the following categories: Juniors (each team member must be 20 years of age or younger on 01 January 2012), Masters (40 or older on 31 December 2012), and Open. Awards will also be given to the best family teams; a family team is one that has anyone 20 years of age or younger, and also someone 21 years of age or older.
Entry and Registration
The first 50 teams to enter get technical-fabric T shirts with the Street Scramble design. That's right, a complimentary shirt for each and every team member! Please select the shirt size during the registration process. These shirts can be obtained at the event only if we do not sell out, or if there are cancellations. If you would rather not have another shirt—even as cool as this—we offer a discount.
Pre-registration is open. Team members may enter together (be entered by the same person), or separately. If you would like to go with a team, but don't know your teammates' names yet, you can enter yourself and other members can join the team at a later time.
As with all events by Get Lost!!, fees for teams, including families, are capped. Three, four, or five people enter at the team price; each team member gets a map. The fees are:
On top of these prices, we offer the following discounts:
The BAOC discount only applies to individuals, not teams. That is, a registration for two people who are both BAOC members will cost less than the team price. A three-person team is always best off taking the team deal.
These discounts are taken and combined automatically by the registration system. Make sure to indicate the team association, individual participant's club membership, and the correct (or at least approximately correct) ages for the team members.
We accept credit cards online through Google Checkout, and cash, checks, and credit cards on site.
1. Directions and Parking
Our headquarters are at the Almonte District Improvement Club, 105 Wisteria Way, Mill Valley, CA 94941. The hill of Almonte is part of Tamalpais-Homestead Valley, an unincorporated part of Marin County directly bordering Mill Valley proper.
The Almonte Club has a small eight-space parking lot; those who come later should park on Wisteria Way and Almonte Boulevard. Parking is free. Golden Gate Transit bus stop is just down the block.
Safety is our first priority. All cyclists must wear a helmet and stop at all stop signs and red lights. Highway 101 is a freeway, and can be crossed in three places. Two of them are interchanges that are obvious on the map, and the third one is a pedestrian/bike bridge in-between, shown on the map.
Cyclists are actually allowed on the shoulder of Highway 101 between the Shoreline Highway (Highway 1) and Seminary Drive interchanges. We strongly discourage utilizing this privilege. There is a much less stressful way to get to and from the checkpoints, and it uses the pedestrian/bike bridge.
We strongly encourage you to wear a Street Scramble safety vest to enhance your visibility. You can borrow one from us at no charge.
3. Urban Adventure Hunt series 2012/2013
This event is the first one in the series. Here is last year's announcement, but in brief, it works this way: Each Street Scramble event is worth a maximum of 1000 points, and Mill Valley, Berkeley and Oakland Hills, and Santa Cruz Street Scramble events, with their 7-hour competition, are worth 1600 points. We will add together the points from the 12 events that are scheduled between late June of 2012 and late May of 2013. If your team participates in the 90-minute division, we will multiply its points by 1.5; if it is in the 7 hours, there is no penalty, enjoy all the extra points that a long run or ride in the city entails! In order for event scores to count for the series, your team should keep the same name, compete in the same age/gender category, and maintain at least one common member for the Street Scramble events it participates in.
Prizes: In each category (foot and bike; Open, Masters, and Juniors; Men, Women, and Mixed; and Family), there is a single first-place award to the best team, and it is a free entry to San Francisco Night & Day Challenge in 2013. A team has to participate in at least three Street Scramble events in order to be eligible for the award. But furthermore, we'll combine your points from the Street Scramble events and SFND, and a few very lucky—or fast—teams will win an expense-paid trip to the Seattle Night & Day, which occurs about a month after SFND!! We will showcase one or two categories for this award.
4. Event rules
Each team must stay together throughout the event. It is not allowed to split up to cover more ground. The finish time is taken when the last team member crosses the finish line.
Travel under your own power only. It is not allowed to take Golden Gate Transit or cabs.
It is not allowed to look up answers to checkpoint questions without actually going to the checkpoint; in particular, you cannot use Street View, Panoramio, or the likes. Using Street View would be just like driving past everyone in a car at a running race! You can, however, use the map on your smartphone, and GPS. The GPS signal is not great in the canyons, and sometimes it takes a long time for the dot to zero in on where you actually are. You are welcome to use any and all maps of the area you may bring.
Please stay off private property. Some of the streets and roads shown are private. They are not shown with any special symbol. The course will not lead you along private roads. If it says NO TRESPASSING, please turn around.
All checkpoints are immediately reachable by bike. A road bike will get you to all but one checkpoint, and is recommended over a mountain bike.
The map shows which trails are bike-legal, according to the best of our knowledge. You may wheel a bike on a hikers-only trail, but please don't ride it.
Dogs are allowed at the Almonte Club, and we are unaware of any checkpoint locations that prohibit dogs.
7. The map
We produced this map for the 2011 Mill Valley Street Scramble. The main source of the data is Marin County GIS (public domain). The street and trail network on the map has been extensively verified against all of these sources, and most of the staircases have been checked by Bill, Heidi, and Rex in the terrain.
The map is at 1:15,000 scale with 10 meter contour interval. The map uses orienteering/rogaining symbols for the streets, roads, and trails. You will have up to one hour to study the legend and learn these symbols. There is no information about what's there in-between these roads and trails. The only exception is city parks, shown in green.
The main color on this map is pink, showing private property, urban and wild. A small number of areas are shown in grey; these are places such as shopping and apartment complexes where it's sometimes possible to shortcut. We haven't mapped all of these yet. The remaining important color is green; it shows parkland, both forested and open. When planning your route, you should assume that you can only move along marked streets, roads, trails, and stairways; inside the marked parks, you can move on and off trail, on foot, in any direction, but it's usually wisest to stick to the trails anyway.
Even if it looks tantalizingly close and you think you'll be able to shortcut in-between trails and streets, assume you can't! We'd like to be able to hold this event every year, and we'd like to respect the privacy of Southern Marin County residents. Please help us maintain good relations with these cities and communities.
We are using different symbols to show multipurpose trails, on which bikes are allowed, and foot-only trails.
8. The terrain
The highlight is Mill Valley's famous steps, lanes, and paths. They are narrow public right-of-ways developed before the car as a quick way to get to the valley's lower part. They are usually in excellent or good condition, but some are getting overgrown. Most of them are signposted from the streets they connect to—but not all, and some are easier to find than others. Within Mill Valley city limits, look for the (mostly) green Steps, Lanes, and Paths sign just over waist high on a wooden post, and/or for a blue arrow with the letter E on the pavement pointing towards the path or stairs. For some, it almost looks like you're going into someone's yard, and then it branches off to the right or left and goes off their property onto an easement.
9. Course notes
The optimum straight-line route to get all checkpoints is about 29 km; the actual distance to travel on bike is over 50 km, with ample climb. The course has 39 checkpoints worth 1600 total points, all but three picked by Bill and Heidi Cusworth. It is possible to get to all checkpoints by bike within 7 hours, but not on foot. There is no terrain overlap between this event and the San Francisco Night & Day Challenge.
The late penalty is 10 points for each minute, or fraction thereof. Remember, you can switch from the 90 minute division to the 3 hour division at any time, even while you are on the course.
10. Cellphone scoring
Cellphone scoring will be offered for this event, and here's a short tutorial.
Our receiving phone number is +1 503 567 8924. (It spells out LOST X24. Hope you aren't.)
Start with registering your team's cell phone number. You can send us answers from more than one cell phone. We don't pull the phone number information from your registration, so this step must be done for at least one phone. From this phone, send us a text message that says T followed by your team number. You will find out your team number at check-in, or if you would like to complete this step early, e-mail us and we'll let you know your team number. For example, if your team number is 142, text
You will receive a short confirmatory message. It may take a few seconds for the system to issue a confirmation to each of your commands and answers, sometimes up to about half a minute, more if your phone moves in and out of coverage.
After you have registered your team number, you're clear to head out on the course! One of the neat features is the ability to retrieve checkpoint questions and answer choices as you go. Just say Q? followed by the checkpoint number, like this:
And now to the most important part—sending us answers to checkpoint questions! Just send us the checkpoint number and the answer choice, in this order or answer first, with or without a space; the answer (as all commands) is case-insensitive. For each answer, you get a short confirmatory message.
Please take care in answering the questions. Sometimes, teams give a literal answer, for example if the answer choices are (A) 1; (B) 2; (C) 3, a team can text 2. This answer will not count as a wrong answer and the system will simply ask you to try again. Only the first valid answer choice counts. If you send in a wrong answer choice, for example if the correct answer is B and you say A, the mistake cannot be corrected.
You can find out how many checkpoints you have visited, and how many points they are worth, by texting S?. This score is not graded; that is, the points are calculated without take into account whether your answers are correct or not.
The full command set is
Q? R? S? T/T? U W?
We already went over most of those. The remaining commands are: R? tells you how long your team has been on the course; T? replies with your team number on record; U is used to unsubsribe the phone number; and W? lets you know which ones you got wrong.
The system is currently on Eastern time. We may or may not be able to fix that before the event. Finally, if you encounter an error message, please let us know after the event.
Please do not send praise, comments, blame, bug reports, missing checkpoint notes, or status updates to this number—they are all quite welcome, but use +1 971 998 0321 instead. They will all be read and acted upon.
We will not be using QR codes at this event.
11. Pen-and-paper scoring
When you mark your answer, please also make sure to write down the time you visited each checkpoint. Doing this is not mandatory, but allows for some entertaining post-event route analysis. Your finish time will be taken when you hand in your score sheet.
We maintain a discussion board for all our events on Attackpoint. Popular among map and adventure-sports athletes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries, the site is the one to go to for the latest navigation-sport news, schedules, discussion, and gossip.
Forum for the Mill Valley Street Scramble.