Saturday 30 March 2019: Scottish Middle Distance Championships incorporating BUCS Individual Long Distance
We are delighted to welcome British Universities & Colleges Sport to Scotland for the 2019 BUCS Orienteering Championships. Student orienteering is very strong in Scotland, and Edinburgh University are the defending BUCS champions. A new club was started at Stirling University last year, and they will be running on home terrain in the Sunday Relays on Dumyat, which rises immediately behind the campus.
The BUCS races in 2018 had to be postponed because of bad weather, and when they were rearranged, it was during the exam period, so many leading athletes were unable to make the new date. There's a class field of over 200 athletes registered for the race, with many of Great Britain's bright young stars, including Sasha Chepelin (Edinburgh), Jonny Crickmore (Heriot-Watt), Cecile Anderson (Oxford) and Fiona Bunn (Cambridge) in the field. However, I think it's a wide-open race at this time of the season, and any one of a dozen athletes could come out as champion.
The Saturday venue, Birnam Hill hasn't been used for orienteering for many years, due to forestry works, but is now back in excellent condition. Rising to 404 metres the area includes a wealth of contour and rock detail including cliffs and crags, mixed runnable oak forest interspersed with open heather.
As well as the BUCS Individual race on Saturday, we have the first-ever Scottish Middle Distance championship. Scottish Orienteering identified a need for an additional championship race, at a distance between sprint and classic, and the event will move around the Scottish regions on a rotational basis, but we're delighted to have the opportunity to host the first race. Forth Valley Orienteers has a fine tradition of producing excellent Middle distance runners, and I'd expect some of our own athletes to be on top of the podium at day-end.
The Sunday races, which comprise the BUCS Relays and the second round of the Scottish Orienteering League, will take place on Dumyat. Last used nationally for the Compass Sport Cup Scottish qualification round in 2016, Dumyat is very much 'Stirling's hill'; its steep, craggy slopes tower above the small village of Blairlogie. Despite its relatively modest height of 418m, Dumyat is a big hill in a little body; its commanding position as the westernmost outlier of the Ochil Hills makes it instantly recognisable, and its summit is one of the finest viewpoints in the Central Belt.
Thankfully the slopes to the west and north are less steep than its southern flanks, yielding some intricate contour detail and a variety of runnability. Always open, but not always fast! Further west towards Stirling University are the beautifully mixed woods of Yellowcraig and Hermitage, the latter directly adjoining the university campus, which will host the shorter classes on the day.
Planners Jason Inman and Andy Llewellyn have been hard at work over the winter, scouting out some excellent courses, with challenging route choices and a fine mix of fast running options and cunning navigation, and I'm quite sure their courses will be acclaimed by those taking part.
Start List is here.
British Orienteering would like to take this opportunity to thank Forth Valley Club and all the volunteers involved who have given up their time and energy to make this a great weekend for all competitors. We wish all taking part a fantastic time orienteering in Scotland.