Edinburgh Southern Orienteering Club

Purple Thistle 2016

Held at Balmacara, on stunningly wild open rocky hillside with distracting views of Skye (when the weather cleared enough to actually see the stunning views).

The Purple Thistle is held approximately every 2 years and is a 'barebones' orienteering weekend usually held in a wild and remote part of Scotland. The barebones concept is all about taking the fuss out of event organisation as much as possible while still providing an event of the highest quality, with a great atmosphere and enjoyment for all. The only thing that matters being the quality of the actual orienteering experience (maps, courses, controls and electronic punching).

The 2016 event was held at Balmacara, a few miles along the road from Kyle of Lochalsh. There were 3 events over the weekend. The first was on Saturday afternoon and it was billed as middle distance but was quite long enough for most of us! The terrain was challenging under any circumstances but the rain and low cloud/mist added an extra (possibly unwelcome) challenge. This was followed by a small event on Saturday evening in Kyle of Lochalsh at an area called The Plock, a mixed area of community parkland, open rocky hills, and a bit of urban terrain - the last bit of mainland Scotland before the Skye bridge. Some of us thought this would be a bit like Blackford Hill, a lovely hill with spectacular views. There were certainly spectacular views and plenty of rocks and crags but The Plock added plenty of open boggy areas and some areas of head high bracken just to add to the fun. Finally, the classic distance race was held on a different area of Balmacara which was equally as challenging as that on Saturday but much longer courses and, thankfully, brighter weather.

Balmacara certainly provides some great orienteering and those ESOC members who made the long journey to take part rose magnificently to the challenges offered. There were some good ESOC results, especially bearing in mind that anyone could enter any course from the Mighty Thistle, Big Thistle, Medium Thistle and Small Thistle. There were few concessions to age or ability apart from an extra course called the Baby Thistle. This approach meant that a good run might still mean coming almost last!!

Robin Strain addded together the results for all 3 events though there were no prizes or trophies awarded. According to Robin there are only bragging rights but it isn't clear what actually constitutes a 'bragging right'. There is a case for anyone finishing the classic courses on Sunday considering they could brag about it regardless of their time. Robin has also provided results for those who completed only the 2 main Balmacara events. 8 ESOC members in total made the trip to the Purple Thistle and 6 competed in all 3 events. It is difficult to know how to show the best results for ESOC members in this item. However, of the 8 ESOC members who travelled to the Purple Thistle, 4 people completed all 3 days and their results are as follows:

Medium Thistle: Mike Stewart (3rd), Roger Scrutton (11th), Margaret Dalgleish (12th) and Les Dalgleish (18th). There were 23 competitors who attempted all 3 Medium events and 18 who actually completed all 3.

The remaining ESOC members either only competed in 1 event or didn't complete all the courses they entered.

You can see how ESOC members fared generally on the full results page for the Purple Thistle which are here.

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