Scottish 6 Days – Tay 2009

Well, that was good.

My sixth Scottish 6 Days international orienteering competition in Perthshire/Tayside has just finished – around 3000 competitors and seven days of competition (including the supposed “rest” day). Six sunny days and just one day of persistent rain, unfortunately it was the most rugged day. Still, it meant the other days were appreciated even more.

Here’s my writeup in my training log.

Here’s some map extracts, showing my most outrageous mistakes and some nice bits of the areas:

Day 1 was a tough, physical day, this actually turned out to be my best result of the week. I was frustrated at not being able to run at any speed on the steep, slippery hillside. My only mistake of any significant size was stopping too early on the approach to No. 8 and searching in the wrong place, resulting in an unnecessary 25m climb.

My main mistake on Day 2 was running beside the wrong hill at the start, and getting confused in the jumble of MTB-tracks, none of which I thought were marked on the map. They, of course, were, and I was in the wrong place. Note the interestingly steep approach to the start flag.

Day 3 was the only rainy day, a shame as it was probably the grandest area. I was OK until I hit the open moorland, where I made the biggest mistake of my week, running over the big hill and coming off it too far to the north. The mistake was compounded by a parallel error once I had descended.

Tentsmuir (Day 4) was a joy to run in after the climbs of the previous days, and I felt I had a very strong time – of course, everyone else did well, too. It was a nice and sunny day – shame about all the ticks.

A pretty horrible mistake from No. 3 to 4 in a fantastically complex bit at the beginning of Day 5. I completely failed to see the second vertical blue line to the right, which was an obvious ditch and would have been useful to run blind to. Instead I personally inspected each small mound in the broken area to the south.

Much of the rest of Day 5 was on – or running between – big sand dunes. This was the most impressive complex, I got lucky here, and didn’t have major problems – the way to No. 14 was fixed quickly as I knew what I had done. Large numbers of other people were stopped and looking very lost – quite a few on my course lost ~10-12 minutes here.

Finally, a very physical and technical, but satisfying, end to the week. Only the marshes could be run along at good speed (e.g. 6-7), the heather on the open areas was pretty tough. I came out of No. 3 in the wrong direction but fixed it on the way. No. 6 was lower down than expected, it wasn’t just me that made this mistake though.

Best bits of the week were:

  • Finishing generally much higher up the results than I had anticipated. Admittedly I was running Short Open, and had just finished an 800 mile bike ride. Generally my results got worse throughout the week, normally they get better, so I had started with a good base-line fitness this year.
  • The variety of areas used – from proper Highland hillside to huge sand dunes.
  • The weather – six sunny days out of seven!
  • The spectacularly steep start on Day 2, with lines of starters towering above the pre-start area.
  • Tentsmuir (Day 4) which was a lot better than I had been expecting, based on previous runs there.
  • Cycling across the Tay Bridge.
  • The SLOW tea-party at their mansion, with manic dog and large trampoline.
  • The train journey from Edinburgh to Perth, along the Fife Coastline, was extremely beautiful.
  • The view from the start on Day 6 – wow.

Worst bits of the week were:

  • My travelling. Staying at home in Edinburgh, and travelling up each day, was a bit ambitious. I ended up staying at the much more convenient SLOW accommodation for the last couple of days.
  • The several big (>5 minute) mistakes that I made, because it was never really intensely technical – i.e. the mistakes were all dumb ones.
  • The Day 2 area – but only because I had been really looking forward to it. It felt a bit too “southern England”.
  • Getting mobbed by ticks after Day 4’s run, both big black deer ticks and little brown sheep ticks. I found 36 of the pests crawling on my legs, including 6 biters.
  • Going over on my ankles repeatedly on the steep and nasty descent down the gully at the end of Day 6, so hobbling to the finish and getting beaten almost at the finishing line by Peter M.
  • There was no loch on the Loch Ordie map. A loch-side finish somewhere would have been lovely.
  • My performance at table-tennis. Oh dear.

All in all probably the best Scottish 6 Days event I’ve been to.


  1. The first time I have looked at a blog of any kind and I enjoyed this contribution.
    BUT is it an extension of HS Beck’s “Borienteering”

  2. Fair point on the borienteering – but if you think this is overanalysis, you should see some of my training log entries from a couple of years ago!

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