INSPIRED BY A world championship held this summer in Moray hundreds of primary and secondary school children gathered at Gordonstoun on Thursday to test their Orienteering skills.
The sport has seen a phenomenal growth in Moray since the Scottish Six Days event brought thousands of international Orienteers to the region two years ago. Then this summer the World Orienteering Championships saw a further boost to the sport – and that resulted in more schools than ever before taking part.
Thursday’s event saw each school entering two teams of four boys and four girls, with around 200 pupils navigating their way over different courses on the grounds of the private school. They were joined by several experienced international Orienteers who were always willing to offer help and advice.
Mike Rodgers, who is Scottish Orienteering’s development officer for the sport in Moray and is largely responsible for driving the popularity of Orienteering in Moray’s schools from relative obscurity to a sporting activity that rivals football, said the Orienteering Festival was the culmination of competition building up throughout the summer.
“Most pupils will have taken part in Associated School Group festivals in Moray and were familiar with the basics of Orienteering before arriving at Gordonstoun,” he said, adding: “Many of them gained confidence through Orienteering at club events – nevertheless, we recognise at the Festival the wide spread of ability levels so ensured that there were lots of marshals around the course to help any of the youngsters who were perhaps not quite sure.
“That helped ensure that those who were quick on their feet and quick at their map reading could do their best – while those who find it more of a challenge are still able to succeed in completing the course.”
Girls taking part in the primary school course had to navigate their way over a 2.5km route through the school grounds while boys were set a 3.1km course. Secondary school pupils were sent out over a 3.5km course at a higher difficulty level with boys and girls running the same route.
View a gallery of images from the Festival on the insideMoray Facebook page.