Report by Richard Oxlade - Lochaber Technical Co-ordinator/ SOA President
Dave Kershaw - 6 Days Chair
We’re sure that amongst all of the mixed messages about summer holidays, travel restrictions and numerous other uncertainties you’re probably keen to know the latest plans for this year’s 6 Days. As you can imagine this is not proving to be the easiest event to organise, and while we are doing everything possible to stage the event some things are outside our control.
Firstly, the good news:
- We have over 1,300 entries to date and are confident that we will be able to attract the 2,000 that we need to put on a viable event in August. Many many thanks to everyone who’s entered so far – you’re giving us a lot of confidence to keep going.
- The planning and controlling have been progressing despite travel restrictions since Christmas. The planners have created some great looking courses on the areas which will be complemented by some outstanding Highland scenery.
- We have received fantastic support from all of the landowners and are confident that we can organise every day safely and ensure everyone has a great time.
Secondly some things will inevitably be different this year. We’re having to make these changes to put on the event safely as we still have to plan for COVID:
- We’re going to mail bibs and programmes which means that we won’t need an event centre or registration. Please make sure your address is correct!
- To reduce gathering we will only deal with urgent problems in the arena / assembly areas – we’ll have an Event Control point but there won’t be an Information/Enquiries tent. This means that competitors will have to turn up ready to run – sorry, no last-minute changes will be possible on the day!
- To keep things simpler and safer we’ll probably ask you to leave club tents at home and not gather along the run-in. We’ll make sure there’s plenty of space to spread out.
- Online late entries will be possible up to the night before – this is as close to EOD as we can manage. This will just need a bit more planning than in normal years.
- We won’t be providing bussing to or from events – it has proved to be too complicated given COVID, especially as we will have fewer volunteers than usual.
- There won’t be any rest day activities – but in an area like Lochaber who needs them anyway?
- For obvious reasons we can’t run a programme of social activities – although if someone wants to volunteer to put on a virtual quiz night we’d be delighted.
- We’re still going to offer pre-ordered merchandise for collection at the event – some great designs that will no doubt become collector’s items. Orders will have to be placed by the end of May, but we will refund you if we make a NO-GO decision. Unfortunately, we can’t manage returns or sell items at the event, but we’re sure you’ll understand why.
- We’ll do our best to have traders but at the minute we can’t make any guarantees. If nothing else don’t forget your O shoes!
Hopefully, the prospect of getting out into some stunning highland forests and moors after 18 stressful and frustrating months excites you as much as it does us. It probably comes as no surprise that there are still a few hurdles to overcome:
- Since last September, the Scottish Government has imposed a limit of 200 participants per day on outdoor sporting events like orienteering. We need to have at least 2,000 participants for the event to be viable and we are in discussions with sportscotland about the conditions required to achieve this. It is possible that we will need to impose an entry limit – if this is the case it will be done on a first come first served basis.
- Competitors will have to be able to travel from the home nations, and ideally the Common Travel Area (i.e., including Ireland). We may not be able to accept overseas entries – we will refund the entries fees of foreign competitors entered to date if this is the case.
- We will have to get the Local Authorities (Highland Council and Argyll and Bute Council) to agree that our procedures are COVID safe.
Because of these remaining uncertainties we’re going to make a “GO/NO-GO” decision at the end of May. Beyond that date we need a high degree of certainty that the event won’t be cancelled to avoid being too exposed financially. Until then, like you, we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that everything moves in the right direction.
Finally, we’d like to say thank you to the many volunteers who have committed their time to Lochaber 2021. The Scottish 6 Days is a massive undertaking in any year and this year it’s especially difficult. Their commitment is really appreciated.
Many thanks again for your support and understanding.