The UK’s largest Orienteering event took place this week in Royal Deeside.
The biennial Scottish 6 Days Orienteering Festival was held at various locations along the Dee valley from Aboyne to Braemar.
Over 3000 athletes arrived from all corners of the globe with local accommodation having been snapped up months in advance and many orienteers having to venture as far as Aberdeen to find somewhere to stay.
The event kicked off on Sunday at stunning Glen Tanar and Royal Deeside did not disappoint the visiting orienteers.
Competitors young and old made the most of the sunshine making their way across some of Deeside’s most challenging terrain.
Glen Tanar, typical of most of Deeside, is characterised by moss covered boulders, gently rolling slopes and Scots Pine plantation but the challenging steeper slopes with rocky outcrops had to be negotiated by the more experienced orienteers.
On day two the Race Arena moved to Balfour Forest, near Aboyne - a new area specially mapped for the event and the Elite World Ranking competition took place at adjacent Birsemore Hill the next day.
Winners of this prestigious event were Forth Valley’s Graham Gristwood in the Men’s race and Hungarian Fanni Gyurko in the Women’s event.
Thursday saw the event moved up the valley to the steep slopes of Creag Choinnich, Braemar and the week finished off with two days of competition at the spectacular ‘hidden valley’ of Glen Feardar.
Overall results for the 6 days saw Speyside’s Jess Tullie fight off international competition to take the Women’s Elite title from Welsh athlete Megan Carter Davies and Sofie Bachmann of Switzerland.
Cross country runner Alastair McLeod of Clyde Orienteering Club emerged the winner of the nail-biting Men’s race on the final day, putting a very competitive Mark Nixon into Silver position followed by Belgian Tristan Bloeman in Bronze.
The final race was played out on a stadium screen with GPS tracking of the elite competitors which greatly added to the fantastic atmosphere.
Local Deeside juniors from Mar Orienteering Club had amazing success with Matthew Gooch of Aboyne winning overall M16A and twins Eilidh and Kirsty Campbell of Banchory taking Gold and Silver in the W16A class.
Joe Wright of Glassel was runner up in the M18E and Blair and Eilidh Garret were both second in M12B and W14B respectively.
Careful planning and attention to detail made the whole event run very smoothly and the organisers have received much praise from our foreign visitors who were treated to a week of super weather, challenging orienteering, beautiful scenery and a large variety of local attractions.
For more information on Orienteering in Royal Deeside as well as event dates and contact details visit the Maroc website: www.marocscotland.org.uk.