Month: June 2024

Meet the SOA Board – June 2024

After the June 2024 AGM, we thought now was a pertinent time to give you a bit of background about your current board and a quick summary of what their jobs involve. You will have seen from the 2024 AGM Booklet that some of the board ( Chair, President, interim Operations Director and Finance Director) have indicated they will step down from their posts in September when an EGM is being held as part of the Club Networking Day in Perth on 14th September (more to follow on this later).

Chair – Keith Dawson

The role of SOA Chair is an interesting and varied one, including Charing the Board to ensure it provides a clear strategic direction to SOA, through ensuring the Board meets it’s financial duties to maintain the health of SOA, to an ambassadorial role with stakeholders. This leads onto ensuring good governance practices are maintained. All this, working with a committed group of like minded individuals working to make sure the sport is a thriving one. 

The last two years have been particularly challenging and interesting. Highlights were ensuring that WOC24 eventually took place amidst major financing challenges, successfully applying for the World Masters MTBO Champs in 2026 and helping shape SOA strategy for the next four years with our major funder Sport Scotland. Sadly my increased responsibilities to Ukraine and recovering from a major injury preclude me continuing. I know my successor will find it an interesting role and much less challenging with WOC24 behind us.

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Silver medal at European Youth Orienteering Championships

Scottish runners enjoyed some success in Poland at the weekend, with James Hammond (Forth Valley Orienteers) taking a silver medal in the M18 long distance – apparently GB’s first ever forest medal in EYOC history! He was only 6 seconds from the gold.

James Hammond with his silver medal Photo Credit: Judith Bell
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Embargos announced for the 2026 World Masters MTBO Championships

The 2026 World Master Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships (MTBO) are being held in Moray between 3-7 June.

The embargoes areas for the event have been announced and are shown on the following map.

If competitors run in Foot Orienteering events within the embargo areas they can still enter the 2026 event but will be classed as non competitive for the 2026 event.

Young Orienteer of the Year Award presented

After long deliberations it was decided that the Young Orienteer of the Year award sponsored by Tulloch Homes for 2023 should be awarded jointly to Ruari Cottier of Loch Eck Orienteers (ECKO) and Peter Owen of Forth Valley Orienteers (FVO).

Both individuals have made huge efforts to promote the sport and both their efforts to support their clubs and promote orienteering within their schools should be celebrated. Therefore they were both presented with the prize at the Jamie Stevenson Trophy event. Well done to both Ruari and Peter!

Jamie Stevenson Trophy inspires enthusiasm despite the rain

Well there hasn’t been a damp Jamie Stevenson Trophy for a few years but a bit of rain did not diminish the chatter, shouts of encouragement and enthusiasm for the event.

The Jamie Stevenson Trophy is an annual inter-club competition for junior classes only, and traditionally held in central Scotland to encourage participation from all Scottish clubs. It was initiated as a fund-raising event for the Scottish Junior Orienteering Squad (ScotJOS) by Bill and Anne Stevenson in honour of their son, Jamie, who is a multiple World Championships medal winner ( winning gold at the World Orienteering Championships in the Sprint in 2003) and also one of our Patrons. It’s a chance for all juniors in a club to take part in a competitive event with a parade of athletes, commentary and prize-giving.

This year 11 clubs ventured to the Hermitage, just outside Dunkeld, to join to let their juniors enjoy a taste of a competition focussed on juniors with a celebratory atmosphere. Club tents line the run in, faces are adored with face paints and club mascots on are display. No club has yet challenged the Blue Peter skills of Inverness Orienteering Club who have created a cardboard eagle costume in the last few years. Will we get a Wallace Monument costume from Forth Valley Orienteers, a capercaillie from Mar Orienteering Club or a Burghead Bull from Moravian Orienteers to name but a few next year?

As is tradition the day started with a parade of all the juniors led by last year’s winning club Forth Valley Orienteers. It also helped this year to ensure the run in was suitably trampled to make their final run in easier!

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Why we think Young Leaders are important?

As the Jamie Stevenson Trophy hosts the presentation of the Young Orienteer of the Year Award this Sunday, it’s time to remind everyone of just how much young people are doing for our sport.  Back in Nov 2022, we hatched a plan to recognise the contribution that our juniors make and to train them to fulfil those roles effectively – the Young Leader scheme was reborn.  We envisaged 3 roles – coaching, planning and organising and designed courses and club experience logs. 

Scarlett, Finlay and Rona encourage their athletes on a Young Coach Assistant course.
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Smiles all round at the Scottish Schools Festival 2024

Last Friday was the Scottish School Orienteering Festival. This year the festival was organised by St Andrews Orienteering Club, Glasgow (STAG) and was held at Drumpellier Country Park, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire. This was the fourth time it has been held in Drumpellier Country Park having previously being held there in 2008, 2014 and 2017.

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Young Orienteer of the Year Shortlist

We were thrilled to receive such amazing testaments to 2 juniors who have shown huge dedication to the sport. The winner will be announced at the Jamie Stevenson Trophy event this weekend

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May sees ScotJOS training in the Sun (for a change!)

ScotJOS enjoyed a weekend of fantastic sunshine for their latest camp in Perthshire. This was also the Last Blast, a chance for the leavers to plan some fun and games (and orienteering with a difference) for the others.

30 juniors and 8 coaches gathered at Killiecrankie with orienteering at Black Spout Wood, Tullochroisk, Faskally and Bonskeid.  Special mention has to go to Yann who rather than arriving on one of the minibuses decided that he fancied a challenge and ran the 100km from Banchory to Killiecrankie – he was excused from the Friday night training!

On Friday evening they met at Black Spout Wood for a mass start gaffled race and set off at speed with the coaches watching the GPS tracking trying to work out what was happening in the loops. We then headed back to the hall for refuelling and to find a comfy patch of floor space for the night!

On Saturday morning we headed to Tullochroisk. This area hasn’t been used for several years and offered great orienteering with some complex contours. There were a selection of loops and a Duo relay – teams of 2 with each person running 2 legs (although the coaches did win they cheated and had a team of 4 each running 1 leg). The base was beside a small stream where juniors sat with their feet in to cool down between runs and enjoyed the sunshine.

On your marks ….. start of the Duo Relay Photo credit: ScotJOS Team
A refreshing cool down at lunchtime Photo credit: ScotJOS Team

We then headed to Faskally for the traditional “Last Blast” planned by the leavers – this included various challenges alongside the orienteering and ended with the last control in the River Tummel.

On Sunday, after a slight delay caused by a burst water pipe at the hall, we headed for Bonskeid, stopping to watch the bungee jumping at the Garry as we headed to the base for the orienteering. There were a selection of exercises including trains, simplification and visualisation. The weekend finished with a Harris relay – where the planning was the key was to success.

The “station” at Bonskeid for the trains exercises Photo credit: ScotJOS Team

A final farewell to our Leavers – Maja, James, Michael, Sam and Angus – we wish you all the best as you head off to new challenges.

Thanks to everyone who helped make the weekend a success: providing access to maps; gaining permissions; planning training; setting up GPS tracking; supporting the junior; cooking and coaching. The ScotJOS team couldn’t provide these opportunities for the Scottish Juniors without the support from everyone involved.