This has been another testing and challenging year for orienteering. That the Lochaber 2021 event took place at all was only due to the commitment of the main officials and day organising teams. Terry O’Brien was originally appointed as the Coordinator but had to step down for family reasons. Richard Oxlade, as well as continuing as Technical Coordinator, also took over as Coordinator for the event and put in a huge amount of time and effort to ensure a successful event took place.
It proved difficult to locate six suitable locations for the event. In one of the originally selected areas, the local community, understandably, did not wish to have large numbers of orienteers in their area and that day was switched to one of the other areas at short notice. We are very grateful to the local landowner for his help with this late change.
While the 6-Day Board were committed to hold an event if at all practicable and mitigations were put in place to minimise the risks to the Company, it was only in early summer that it was possible to commit to the event with any certainty. The event organisers incurred expenditure as late as possible and reduced costs where feasible without compromising the high standard of the event. Some of the ‘nice to have’ but inessential add-ons were scaled down or not offered and the budget was set assuming a lower level of entry compared to previous years.
As the event neared, it became clear that the normal 6 days of events with a full entry of 2000 + per day was not feasible due to Scottish Government guidelines and restrictions. An alternative plan of two sets of 3-day events was put in place with competitors being split into two groups, mostly by club membership. The maximum number running on each day was 1,000 under this structure. Competitors were offered a refund for days not run but a large number offered to donate part of all of their refund to the SOA and we are very grateful to them for their generosity.
The financial outcome was a small surplus though not sufficient to support continued payments to the SOA. It has been agreed with the SOA that payments will be suspended until the next event, Moray 2023, to protect the finances of the Company. The SOA has also applied to the relevant authorities for grants or loans to mitigate the effects of this suspension. In addition, in a change to the normal practice, no payment has been made to clubs for the time and effort put in by their members in helping to run the event. This was considered necessary to protect the financial strength and reserves of the Company.
At their meeting next following the Lochaber event, the Board agreed a strategic change to the structure of the event with Moray 2023 being a 5-day event with the best 4 out of 5 runs to count. The reasons for this change are:
- It is becoming difficult to find 6 quality areas and suitable car-parking without facing long journeys.
- Moving to a 5-day event will potentially open up more parts of Scotland in which an event can be held.
- Many accommodation lettings are now Friday – Friday making a Saturday event difficult for those affected.
- The resources of Scottish orienteering clubs are being stretched by the number of events taking place.
It is hoped that this change will not affect the appeal of the event and will align us with other European multi-day events most of which are run on a 5 day basis. The financial implications of this change have been assessed and it is not envisaged that there will be an adverse impact on the financial strength of the Company. The Central Organising Team for Moray 2023 is being put in place with Elizabeth Furness as Coordinator and work has commenced on the organisation of the event.
One of the other changes forced on the Company as a result of Covid-19 was the date of the sprint World Orienteering Championships which were due to take place in Edinburgh in 2022. As a consequence of the pandemic, this event will now take place in 2024.
Our partners in the hosting of the event, EventScotland and the City of Edinburgh, have reconfirmed their financial support for which the Board are very grateful. The Event Director, Paul McGreal, has agreed to continue in that role and it is hoped that most of the Organising Committee will also stay in post though, regrettably, the Technical Director and the WOC Office Manager have resigned. The IOF has agreed a reduction in their fee to offset the majority of the irrecoverable costs resulting from the postponement.
There have been no changes to the Board this year and I would like to thank the Directors and co-opted members for their work and support during this difficult period. I am very grateful for their continued commitment to the Company.
Finally, I would also like to thank the recently retired Events Officer of the SOA, Colin Matheson, for his valuable contribution to the 6-Day Company (and the SOA in general) over the last 10 years. He has carried out his role as Assistant Coordinator of the 6-day events superbly over that period as will be very much missed going forward. We wish him well in his retirement.