Here’s a population pyramid of the entries so far for this summer’s Scottish Six Days (S6D) orienteering event, based on the 2000-odd people on the entry list shortly after the cheap entries’ closing date.

At first glance it looks like the demographic is horribly unbalanced. There is definitely a “hole” in the middle! However, there are some possible mitigating factors:
1. Older people might be more keen on entering early so that their plans for the summer are organised well in advance. Younger people are less organised?
2. Younger people are maybe more likely to be injured due to their faster running speeds, so only want to enter when they are more confident of being injury free?
3. Younger people’s incomes are more vulnerable to change so they are waiting to enter closer to the event (£90+ entry fee for the six days) when they are sure they can afford it?
4. Older people are more affluent and so happy to enter a long time in advance and then maybe not show up?
5. Leave is harder to arrange for younger workers?
6. Younger people are more weather sensitive and want to see what sort of summer it’s going to be in a notoriously wet (or midgy) part of Scotland, before entering?

Here’s what the Office of National Statistics’ population pyramid for the UK population for 2011 looks like – you can see this for yourself at the ONS website:

Bear in mind that this is just the UK population, and 20% of the entries for the S6D so far are from foreigners. The age axis for the ONS pyramid starts at zero.

(N.B. The ages for the S6D pyramid are based on the age at 31 December, rather than at the event date in August. Ages are also averaged through the age bands – 2-year for juniors, 5-year for vets – for which the data is available. I have assumed that all the M/W10s are aged 9 or 10.)

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5 Comments

  1. I’m a W35. My own reason for not competing is that I have a young family and do not fancy driving that far (from East Anglia) with young kids – or if I am going to drive that far I’ll cross the Channel for an improved climate and some family kayaking. When my kids are older we’ll consider it – but by then I’ll be a more popular 40 or 45.
    Point 5 is also a factor – limited number of holiday days, we’d want to make the event a 2 week trip at least which would be our main summer holiday.

  2. Agree with Sacha re: young family. Also, parents in the 30-40 year old bracket include those with a non orienteering spouse (the children might not be orienteering age too) – therefore, the non-orienteer might not want to spend 6 days of a week sitting in a field in Scotland! I’ll be doing M40 while my family stay in Australia while I come over for my first home in 6.5 years. My friend Nick M35 is coming from South Africa with his non orienteering wife and his young child. I’m keen as I’ve been to every Scottish 6 Day from 1977 to 2003. Another reason is the choices you have in the UK about holidays – you can be anywhere in Europe within 2 hours from a major airport – whereas Oban is a 8-9 hour drive for some. Anyway I love Scotland and cant wait. Also, Orienteering took off in the UK in the 1970s and that generation is now in the M50 to M80 category. The newer generation has more choice too e.g. adventure racing didn’t exist twenty years ago. Come on 20-40 year olds its a great Orienteering event so get your entry in. Personally I used to Orienteer alot until I was in my early 30s – I have only done a few local events since then due to bringing up a 1 and 3 year old and that time to spend Orienteering away from the family is hard to justify.

  3. After a previous Scottish 6-days, I did a rough analysis of the age profile of the actual entrants and got almost exactly the shape you have here. I don’t think the final pattern will be any different: I am pretty sure that reasons 1 & 2 will not apply, there is unlikely to be a last minute rush from the 20-40 group.

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