Some close seconds at the 2017 Scottish Orienteering Championships
A strong contingent of Ecko members attended the Scottish Orienteering Championships this weekend (20 & 21 May 2017).
Saturday's individual champs was at a re-mapped and combined Gullane, Archerfield and Yellowcraigs dunes.
In contrast to Ecko's sunny SOL4 the weekend before it was raining when everyone arrived at the Archerfield Estate parking and assembly field. So there wasn't much socialising before we all trooped off on the long walks to the starts.
The area was almost all tussocky dune grassland with some intricate contoured ridges and a couple of areas of fast runnable woodland. The longest courses had an initial loop at the extreme southern end of the map followed by a 2-3km beach run around the headlands to meet up with the majority of competitors on Gullane dunes. The trick of the day was to find a path running through the tussocky dune grassland running roughly in the direction of the control and then leg it.
Ellis, Louis, Tom, Susannah and Alan certainly did leg it! One could say the area was perfect for these five in-form runners. Once the odd non-Scot place was discounted, all five achieved a second place in their age class. Louis and Tom were only seconds down from winning their age classes and retained their place in the combined age classes running their course. Tom beating some notable older elites including Tam Wilson and Matthew Felbaum.
Iris also had a Scottish podium 3rd place in W12a.
The day gradually emerged out of the rain and some of the Ecko contingent discovered the Archerfield tea room for the traditional post-match tea and cakes.
Following a night at various friends, family and campsite abodes across the eastern Borders, the Ecko crew re-assembled at Binning Wood, further inland from North Berwick this time.
This was an intriguing area having once been laid out like a giant woodland Parisian garden in the 18th Century it had become overgrown by Rhododendron ponticum and very recently cleared and re-instated. It was a tricky experience trying to decipher and run around what looked like a celestial diagram of rides and paths eminating from large spherical clearings spread through the forest. Controls were attacked by launching oneself off the path into muddy rhodie brashings to find the rhodie thicket or ditch it lurked in.
I can understand why the area was selected for the Relays. The confusing garden structure and rhodie bashing challenged many of us. But not for some as there were more podium places for the Ecko Pearls (Gill, Susannah, Jura) who came in 2nd in the Handicap 20+ and the Ecko Mussels (Tom, Roanne, Louis) who came in 3rd in the Handicap 11+.
All-in-all it was good to experience terrain quite different to Ecko's stock in trade (except for the rhodies perhaps!). Everyone put on their best performance and for some this resulted in them flying the Ecko flag on the podium. Well done every body and thanks to members of ESOC, Tayside and Interlopers for all their hard work in staging both events.
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21st May 17 by Ross Lilley