A year ago I wrote ‘The past twelve months have focussed almost exclusively on the preparations for the 2015 6Day Event. Highland 2015, involving both the 6 Days and the World Orienteering Championships, will be a bigger and more complex event than any previously staged in Britain’. I could say the same again. The past year has similarly been dominated by Highland 2015, which was indeed bigger and more complex than anything done before, and probably an even bigger challenge than we had anticipated twelve months ago. A review of the last year by Anne Hickling, Chair, Board of Directors.
With over well over 6000 people taking part, we comfortably exceeded our initial target of 5000. This brought with it many challenges, as anyone who saw the queues forming outside Eden Court on registration day will have realised. And running the 6Days alongside WOC, which had a very different organisational structure from our own, was not straightforward. I am extremely proud of the way in which the whole 6Day team rose to the challenges faced in the preparation for the event and during the week itself. Inevitably there had to be some compromises, but I think that most competitors accepted these in return for the opportunity to run on world class terrain and see the world’s best in action. I believe we put on an event which maintained our traditions of quality orienteering delivered in a friendly, good-humoured manner, and my thanks and admiration go to the whole team, in whatever way they contributed. Many people worked far in excess of what could reasonably be expected, and I hope that following a few weeks of rest and recovery, everyone can look back and reflect with satisfaction on a job very well done.
Maintaining the 6Days’ reputation as one of the world’s leading multi-day events was especially important this year. Whilst we had to make some adaptations because of WOC, we also benefitted from the huge increase in attendance. The additional competitor numbers above our usual level were made up largely of runners from overseas, many of whom may have come to Scotland for the first time. We hope they were impressed by what they experienced, will want to come back to future 6 Day events and will carry the message of the event’s appeal to their friends and clubmates. We await the results from the post-event competitor survey, but many messages of appreciation have already been received.
At the time of writing the financial outcome from the joint WOC/6Day Highland event is not yet known.
The financial success of Moray 2013 left the Company in a strong position and enabled us to make some significant investments in the Highland event and in Scottish orienteering more generally. A fund of £10,000 was set aside to assist clubs with mapping expenses (particularly those clubs who do not benefit from new or updated maps prepared for a 6 day event). The majority of this fund has now been committed. We also provided funds to reward Highland 6Day volunteers by providing a uniform (t-shirts/gilets) and to improve the branding of event arenas with new signs, 6Day Event tape, national flags and the ‘toblerones’ which were much admired on the run-ins. The Highland event also benefitted from support from Highland Council and Moray Council, and continuing generous funding from Event Scotland which enabled us to enhance the event in a variety of ways. Our thanks are due to all these bodies for their invaluable support which helps to add the special extras and innovations to the event.
After every 6Day event there are lessons to be learned on how to improve things next time, and it is important that these are carried forward where relevant by the team for the following event. We are grateful to the outgoing COT and day officials for providing full reports on their roles and highlighting particular successes and ways in which some things might be done better. As outgoing coordinator, Richard Oxlade will remain on the Board ex-officio to ensure that the next event – Deeside2017 – benefits from the experiences of Highland.
Plans for Deeside2017 are progressing under the leadership of Jon Musgrave, with the Central Organising Team drawn from Maroc and Interlopers. Areas have been identified, all within a relatively short distance of the event centre, a feature which is popular with competitors but was not possible at Highland because of the WOC locations. The event was marketed at Highland through the branding of the commentary van and advertising in the free newspaper supplement distributed to all participants, and the website and social media are underway.
By this stage we would normally have announced the venue for the following 6Days – in 2019. An assessment is currently ongoing to examine whether a 6Days in southern Scotland is viable. The last southern 6Days was in 1991, so it is high time that consideration was given to a return. However, we have to be sure that there are sufficient areas of high quality, sufficient will amongst the local clubs to manage the event, and sufficient accommodation in the area to meet the needs of the numbers we now come to expect. A decision about the venue will be made in the next couple of months.
I would like to thank my fellow directors for their work and support over the past year in advancing the Company’s aims, as well as Professional Officer Colin Matheson for his major contribution to the 6 Day event. Lindsey Knox has now resigned from the Board after eight years as director with responsibility for day organisation. This has been a major task involving the regular updating of the organiser’s manual, an essential aid to all day coordinators and organisers. I thank Lindsey for all her work on this and for her contribution more generally to the Board over the years, and I’m very pleased to welcome Rachel Wilson (CLYDE), who joins the Board in Lindsey’s place.
At the start of the year we welcomed David Sloan to Board meetings. David has taken on the role of minutes secretary to the Board, thus relieving the Directors of taking turns to take the minutes. David’s arrival has been warmly received by us all.
I too am now standing down from the Board after ten years, the last four as Chair. It has been a pleasure and privilege to work with the Board through the exciting times of the last few years, but it’s time now for someone else to take the helm as the event moves forward. I wish the incoming Chair success and I have every confidence in the future of the 6 Day event. I look forward to attending Deeside 2017 as an ordinary orienteer.