Day 1: Auchingarrich
Auchingarrich proved a tough and testing area for the first day of Strathearn 2019, as orienteers from around the world enjoyed challenging terrain on a day with sunshine and a light breeze.
Day 1 was also a challenge for organisers, with split car parking and race arena, an inch of rain the day before, and a last-minute detour for the walk to the start. Thanks go to all the various teams, led by Day Organiser Sue Barrie, who helped deliver a first-class orienteering experience, and to everyone who had to walk a little further than hoped.
The Scottish 6 Days has always been keen on innovation and for the first time ever we attempted Livestream – some satellite bandwidth issues caused problems but if you go to the event website you can replay the days events in comfort on Vimeo. The Scottish 6 Days has also invested in a system that gave wi-fi across the whole race arena (O.Net) and live results as well as other useful information. Moravian’s Kate McLuckie (3rd on W12A) was first finisher and first name to appear on the results page.
Karel Jonak and crew from the Czech Republic provided quality TV footage and we also decided to make GPS tracking of selected classes (M/W55A) available. In the interests of fair play, we asked competitors not to watch the livestream (or GPS) until they have completed their course. For the World Ranking Events GPS will not be shown till all Elite runners have started – this is a fun (but serious) holiday event and we don’t want to impose too many rules and restrictions such as collecting the map on completion of courses.
Concerns remain about spreading of diseases and pathogens so it was good to see some efforts being made to scrub up before and after running.
Day 2: Edinchip
Edinchip is a brand new area to orienteering and credit goes to Allan Downie (Tayside Orienteers) and Terry O’Brien (Event Coordinator) for their exploratory efforts finding new terrain that was under everyone’s noses all the time. Edinchip was technically less demanding than Auchingarrich, but instead offered a variety of different terrain types from sheep grazed moorland, birch forest, marsh, ancient oak woodland and more marsh!
There was fantastic support from the Edinchip Estate and others in the community including the organiser of the Balquidder, Lochearnhead and Strathtyre Highland Games – the parking fields and race arena had been the scene of caber tossing, highland dancing, weight throwing, pipe bands and other Scottish pastimes. Orienteering is new to Rob Roy Country but hopefully will become more of a regular feature.
I thoroughly enjoyed my course and the weather stayed dry till we were packing up in the race arena after course closing time. Further details are in the daily online news-sheet but there was an issue with a small number of competitors who either deliberately or mistakenly crossed the “uncrossable” purple line bounding the river that ran through the area. In the interest of fair competition, we would ask anyone who crossed the river to give their name to Information on Tuesday and disqualify themselves. The purple line rule also applies to uncrossable/not to be crossed fences on some other days. Four days count towards the overall result so plenty of opportunities to come good on other days.
Thanks go to the team of helpers including Day Organiser Carol Burnapp who had the misfortune to put her knee out of place yesterday while setting up and spent much of the day organising proceedings from the Director’s Chair. I am expressly forbidden from publishing a photo of her enjoying a cup of coffee and a bacon roll as it gives the wrong impression of all the hard work involved. The detachment from the Military Police were also a great asset – a deterrent to anyone who might have been tempted to exceed the 30 mph limit through the village. We are looking forward to another of Allan and Terry’s new areas tomorrow.
Day2 – Jury Decision
The Day 2 Organiser has received 4 protests about the decision to void the legs across the river. The Day Organiser and Controller decided that they did not agree with the protests and convened the jury who have now reached the following decision:
We know, both by direct observation and by some very short leg times, that a significant number of competitors crossed the river at points that had been marked as “not to be crossed”. While some people have self- disqualified the leg times shows that a number of people who crossed the river have not done so.
While the ideal solution is for all transgressors to be disqualified, there is no means of doing this on the basis of the knowledge that we have. While it would be possible to disqualify those with very short leg times, it is not practical by this means to recognise all those who crossed the river.
In view of the above, we believe that the leg is unfair. We support the organiser’s decision to remove the time for that leg. While there are some changes to positions as a result of this, the vast majority of runners benefit from the removal of advantage from those who crossed the river but did not disqualify themselves. We recognise that no solution is ideal, but we believe that voiding the leg produces the least unfair outcome.
Day 2 Jury: Neville Baker, Hedley Calderbank, Simon Errington
Day 3: Dundurn & Cnoc a’Mhadaidh
Beautiful weather, a stunning race arena and some of the best orienteering terrain in Scotland. Today’s event near St Fillans had it all, with the added attraction of a World Ranking Event Middle Distance race (and Middle Distance for us all which was a welcome relief after two tough days).
Dundurn was another new area discovered on the banks of Loch Earn, an area of ancient oak woodland along with more recent conifer plantations and a good smattering of bogs. St Fillans Hill was an impressive 200-foot lump of rock rising up on the east end of the area but given the nature of the race, we had to finish near the golf course rather than include a spectator control at the top. St Fillan’s Golf Club kindly closed the course for the day to allow a) passage of cars b) string courses and c) junior courses and as a keen golfer, I can’t wait to get there and play on Sandy Lyle’s favourite inland course.
Day 2 and Day 3 had the benefit of LiDAR data specially flown for this event, but mapping these areas must have been very challenging. Thanks go to Deeside Orienteering & Leisure Maps for Days 1, 2 and 4 and to Stirling Surveys for today, Day 5 and Day 6. Dundurn will be a firm favourite for future Scottish events.
The TV crew have captured some stunning footage of the area including the camera set up on a lofty perch 45 metres above the arena. Karel’s team are feeding out up to 1000 metres of fibre optic cable to get pictures to you! Make sure you watch the replays. We will be sending out a questionnaire at the end of the event and we welcome your feedback on this and other highlights of the week. Thanks go to EventScotland for their financial help – Scotland the Perfect Stage was never a truer slogan.
Tyler Morrison and his team worked really hard to make this a success – without the fantastic army of volunteers we couldn’t put on such a great series of races. Gremlins did affect courses 18 and 19 and we do apologise to those who were affected. On a final note race times have had to be adjusted for all course affected by the Day 2 “river crossing” so I wait to see if I go up or down in the results.
Orienteers enjoyed a day of Munro bagging/golf/mountain biking/visiting distilleries/souvenir shopping/castles/Sprint Orienteering and Trail O (delete as appropriate). For others it was a case of setting up for the next few days – expect a surprise with the Day 4 race arena.
Congratulations to all who took part in the Rest Day TrailO and many thanks to the volunteers who made it happen. There were some strong performances and the winners were:
Seniors: 1. Matthew Pickering (UBOC), 2. Ian Ditchfield (MV), 3. Chris Embrey (MDOC)
Juniors: 1. River Edis-Smith (MDOC), 2. Samuel Leitch (SO), 3. Anna Harris (DEE)
Special mention goes to Matthew who completed a clean sheet of correct answers on both the TempO and Pre-O courses.
Full results will be on the web.
Prizes for the top 3 seniors and juniors will be presented at the 6 Day prizegiving on Day 6. If any of the winners are unable to be there, leave a message at registration and we’ll arrange for you to collect your prize from there.
Day 4: Culteuchar & Dron
We promised a variety of terrain types and a few surprises. Culteuchar & Dron was very different from the past few days and offered fast running over closely cropped grassland before descending into the woods. And what a finish – who would believe 2,500 orienteers would end up in someone’s back garden?
The River Earn winds its way down towards the Silvery Tay and Culteuchar & Dron was probably the last area which could be truly connected with Strathearn itself. Unlike some other days there was a plethora of landowners and land managers across the area – add several farmers, sheep, bulls, partridges, pheasants, electric fences, potholed tracks and many other factors and it is remarkable we were able to stage such a great event at all.
Massive thanks go to John and Yvonne Hay who gamely agreed to the races finishing on their beautifully manicured back garden. They had no previous connection with orienteering and I am not sure they fully appreciated what they were letting themselves in for when they agreed on access.
Logistically the day was challenging, including the high upstarts (and stiles) which involved some skilful driving and lugging of equipment. Having less climb on your actual course was, of course, a huge bonus and as many noted the view was lovely. After speeding across the open terrain many were caught out on the descent into the forest – this was thinned and felled earlier in the year and runnability was greatly improved.
Rachel Wilson of CLYDE deserves our thanks for pulling together the many diverse elements of the day. The Controller was former IOF President and their third Honorary Life President Brian Porteous, showing that he can keep in touch with more grassroots orienteering – one of the aims and objectives of the Scottish Orienteering 6-Day Event Co Ltd is to work collaboratively with the Scottish Orienteering Association in the development and advancement of the sport of orienteering in Scotland.
Day 5: Craig a Barns
Craig a Barns was the birthplace of Scottish orienteering and has seen many excellent events since 1962. The map extract and control description from 1968 (extracted from a recent article at https://www.scottish-orienteering.org/membership/score-magazine/ shows that we have made some progress in mapping since the year I started orienteering and it was great to see a top-level World Ranking Event won by two of our GB athletes who are Norway-bound for WOC 2019.
Beatrix Potter had a close relationship with Dunkeld and Birnam and I understand that Rotmell Farm features in some of her sketches. We were too late to influence a book that might have been called Peter Rabbit and the lost Orienteers. The area was physically tough with challenging navigation in parts – how we navigated across such an area in the old days is a mystery.
The farmer (Alex Brewster) and the farmer’s father have both been incredibly supportive of orienteering now and in the past and we were fortunate just to have enough space in one of the field “quadrants” to park 852 cars – organisers fact is that you allow 27 square metres per car! The parking team did a great job getting everyone in, but please be patient and follow their instructions when trying to get out.
The top Scottish poet William McGonagall wrote in glowing terms about Britain’s greatest river that flows past Craig a Barns:
Beautiful silvery Tay,
With your landscapes, so lovely and gay,
Along each side of your waters, to Perth all the way;
No other river in the world has got scenery more fine,
Only I am told the beautiful Rhine.
We welcomed orienteers from over 30 nations including Germany and I hope we correctly hung your flags – apologies to Ireland as the orange has more than a hint of red to it than it should and Luxembourg who are yet to gain IOF accreditation. We look forward to seeing you on the final day and your last chance for your four runs to count.
Day 6: Grandtully
Grandtully has previously been connected with canoeing the rapids but there was a new type of downhill race with the final day of Strathearn 2019 in close proximity to the river. For yet another day the weather held out and the Middle Distance race was a fantastic finale to what has been a hugely successful Scottish 6 Days.
This is a good time for me (a paid employee) to thank all those volunteers who gave up so much of their time to make this event such a success. David Nicol is singled out for his hard work as both Entries Secretary and as the Day Coordinator – bringing some sort of semblance of order and continuity throughout the week. Will Hensman (and his many helpers) in IT was also awesome, not a word to be taken lightly. He provided a fantastic computing service (working with Fabian4) and also won four days of M40L whilst remaining upbeat and positive.
Sam Gomershall as final Day Organiser coped admirably with the various changes of plans – most of them involving what might go up or down the steep hill. Brad Connor lays claim to have gone up and down the hill 14 times – can anyone beat that?
From my perspective this has been one of the best Scottish 6 Days yet – there was a huge variety of different terrain types, different race formats (two Middle Distance) and the successful trialling of new technology (to us) of Livestreaming and GPS tracking of various classes. Your feedback is very important to us so please look out for the questionnaire (by email) or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to seeing many of you at Lochaber 2021 based near Fort William and preliminary information is at www.scottish6days.com/2021. Preparations for the Sprint World Orienteering Championships 2022 in Edinburgh are also underway and these fall under the auspices of the Scottish Orienteering 6-Day Event Co Ltd with myself as Assistant Event Director. As they say around here – Haste ye Back!