At their recent meeting on the 8th of April in the URC hall, River Community Council heard from Colin Matheson, the professional officer for Scottish Orienteering and assistant director or the World Orienteering Championships, on the logistics for the major orienteering event that will take place in Nairn on August 1st. There will be a massive influx of thousands of visitors and competitors, road closures in the Fishertown area and all on the same day as the Farmers Show but Nairn will be in the international limelight for the day.
Colin explained that the World Championships would run in tandem with the Scottish Six Days event. He told the meeting:
“The two events this year come under the umbrella of Highland 2015. Two years ago they were Moray 2013 and it is Highland this time. I’ve been having a number of meetings with Highland Council including councillors in Nairn, Liz Cowie and a transport sub-committee group , essentially to discuss the main opening race which is taking place on Saturday the 1st of August in Nairn. That will be preceded by the opening ceremony of the world orienteering championships. We’re still a little bit cautious about giving too much away about exact locations because until the last minute the details of where the course will go are have to be kept secret from the 50 or so nations that are competing.
Essentially it is a mixed relay, sprint relay, which goes woman, man, man, woman and each runner will be running for approximately 15 minutes at high speed, primarily around the Links and Fishertown areas of Nairn. The exact routes and locations are, as I say, are a closely guarded secret and we don’t want information to leak outside. One of the...there’s various concerns that day including the fact that the Nairn Farmers’ Show happens on the same day, so there’s likely to be quite a lot of traffic coming through Nairn as they leave the show and a lot of orienteers who are coming to Nairn to spectate coming into Nairn. We will be parking on the Nairn Showfield so the majority of competitors and spectators will be coming in from the Inverness direction and turning right into the Showfield just as people are trying to come through Nairn. It has been recommended that we put up some advance warning notices to let people know that traffic will be particulary busy on that day in Nairn and we would also like if possible that people leaving the Farmers Showground and who are heading west to seek alternative routes via Cawdor but we can’t necessarily dictate that. [...]
Lots of, perhaps, concern for some people within this community council area is that we have applied for road closure notices between five o’ clock and half past nine on that Saturday evening. By road closures we really don’t want people to drive in and out the areas affected. The intention is that we will do the postcard drop throughout the affected areas – which essentially will say: “road closures, sorry for any inconvenience, we hope you take the opportunity to come and spectate at this once in a life time event”. And the plan is for a prize draw as well if you come along and present your card. So we want to try and keep people informed, to get people onside and not see it as a big negative – “oh God there’s a major event going on which is going to mess up my evening.” We will offer alternative parking arrangements for people who absolutely need to drive in and out of the affected areas on that evening and that will be up in the Farmers Showfield.
So we hope that with our efforts of talking to different community councils people will have a sympathetic ear for what we are trying to do. This is one of the biggest sporting events inside of Scotland this year, perhaps the only thing upstaging it is the Open golf. I’m a golfer myself as well but we have major backing from Events Scotland. The event will be screened across; we’ve sold TV rights to Scandinavia, across Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland. That’s a two million TV audience and discussions have just been concluded with BBC Alba who will be covering the sprint race in Nairn so there will be TV coverage. So there’s every opportunity to make Nairn stand out to a very wide audience. [...]
When I moved to Nairn a couple of years ago, when I first met Louise and we kind of bandied the idea about as to whether we could stage such a thing. The original plan was to host the event in Elgin. I managed to persuade the event advisers, the International Orienteering Foundation, that it was actually a better venue but it’s only a better venue if I’ve got the people of Nairn behind me in supporting me and asking them to leave their cars behind for a few hours on a Saturday evening. "
Colin then took questions. It emerged that as well as 50 international teams of 4 competing there would be approximately a thousand runners in a public sprint race which will take place immediately after the world championship sprint race. It is also anticipated that perhaps around 2,000-2,500 spectators may come to Nairn on the Saturday to watch the race. There will be provision for 700-800 car parking spaces in the Showfield and Nairn Academy will be used for overflow parking. Those arriving in Nairn will be directed from the carparks to the Links via the High Street. It promises to be quite a day.