Scottish 6 Days Part 2: Day 6 & Trail-O

The final day of Moray 2013 looked, on paper, quite similar to the others – around 9km, like the previous 5 days. However it was quite different in feel, with the combination of climb (495m) and both technical and physical sections of the course, meaning most people, including me, took ~20% longer than on their other days.

The first part of the course was a control pick, with many short legs, in technical and hilly wooded moraine terrain. The forest looked very pleasant in the sunlight, and the controls came up fast:


The second part, however was physically tougher. After crossing the A939 road, the undergrowth levels increased, and a couple of long legs proved to be a good test of navigation. A vaguely mapped, low-visibility and marshy area near the end was a nasty suprise, with four controls for M21L proving to be hard to find:


(The elites ran through this area without any controls in it, although to be fair they did have a 17.1km course.)

For the last few legs of my 9.3km one, I ran out of energy, for the first time in the week, and ended up walking up the last hill. I expected a bad result, but it turns out everyone else found it tough too, and I finished in the top third today and overall.

A few days before, during the “rest day”, I tried out the Trail-O course in Culbin. My only previous Trail-O was in Portugal, where I didn’t do particularly well, partly because I overthought the planning. Trail-O is perhaps the most pedantic form of orienteering, which much though and toing-and-froing needed to work out exactly which of the controls on the terrain are the mapped ones. In the toughest control sets, there were typically only one metre between controls, and Trail-O participants don’t even get to visit the controls themselves, being restricted to the path network. Still, it was a good challenge, and I again finished in a lower position than I was hoping, with 17 of the 23 controls correct – the winner got 21, so maybe if I’d spent a little longer, or conversely a little less time to overthink it… One of my 6 mistakes was due to not understanding the difference between the viewing and punching point, resulting interestingly in a parallax error. Fellow SLOWie Michael Balling unexpectedly won the entire Trail-O competition, beating the British Team, even though he jogged rather than walked around the course, getting around in the fastest time even though there is no bonus for that. There is a lesson there!

Over an enjoyable Scottish 6 Days, on six great areas, and I look forward to 2015’s event which will be not far away, and combined with the World Championships.