• Forvie, credit: ActivNorth


  • Balmoral Castle

    Balmoral Castle

  • Edinburgh Castle map

    Edinburgh Castle map

  • Stirling Castle map

    Stirling Castle map

Edinburgh, Fri Oct 10


Race the Castles got off to a dramatic start in the chaos of Edinburgh’s Exchange district.  We had decided that the multi-levelled area was too difficult to map fairly for a serious race.  But for an evening warm-up, anything goes.  Local knowledge and running in the light no doubt helped Mark Purkis and Clare Ward to victories over assorted World Champions. After their race, Team Denmark formed a huddle in Festival Square, where the Danish equivalent of “What just happened” seemed to be the theme.


Warm up sprint. Get your eye in for the big day with a Sprint distance race (12-15minute winning time, 3km running distance) for all competitors in a small, but perfectly formed area of Edinburgh City never previously used for a major event.

A small headtorch is recommended to aid with reading the map and to avoid hazards as some areas may be quite dark.

Final details

To cope with late edits of the details there is no PDF download now. If you do want to print this page it will format correctly and not print unnecessary headers etc.

Competition Area / Warm up area

Please approach the assembly in Festival Square via Lothian Road and not through the competition area. Bear in mind that the area to the east of Lothian Road is embargoed for Saturday’s race. Start and finish are both in Festival Square: download is in “Illegal Jacks” restaurant 100m up Lothian Road. The Meadows park is 400m from assembly and is the ideal place for warming up. The Union Canal towpath is another alternative.

Assembly, Registration, Start & Finish
Will be at Festival Square in front of Sheraton Hotel, off Lothian Road. Collect race number bibs here. A limited Entry On Day will be available at £8, dependent upon map availability. Dibbers may also be hired. There will be a charge for lost hired SI dibbers.

There may only be a limited ‘official’ area to shelter if weather is inclement, although there are many cafes and bars on Lothian Road. There will be a covered area for bag/clothes drop whilst running.

Transport / Car Parking

Edinburgh is well served by public transport and this is recommended. Trams serve Princes St.

If travelling by car Castle Terrace Car Park may be used. Note that whilst this shown as being within the embargoed area for Saturday it is acceptable to walk west along Castle Terrace and south down Lothian Road.

Download & Results
Download after your run in Illegal Jacks restaurant on Lothian Road (<5 mins walk). You must download! Please cross Lothian Road using the pedestrian crossing. There will be Goody bags for all competitors at Illegal Jacks. Those that have the “full package” are entitled to a T-shirt, and for those that don’t T-shirts may be purchased at £10 each.

Note that last weekend Illegal Jacks suffered from a water leak from the flat above that has resulted in the temporary closure of the restaurant. The restaurant may or may not be open for food by Friday. If it is open and you are hungry please support the restaurant and consider eating here - the burritos are yummy! Equally if you are not eating and the restaurant is open please do not block the restaurant for paying customers…


Are from 6-8pm. You must have a number and dibber to be allowed to start. Winning time ~15mins. Will be dark except for very early starters. Allocated in 15 min blocks, punching start at 30 sec intervals, late arrivals fitted in where possible. Courses close 9pm latest.

Safety notices

Beware of traffic. Beware of non-orienteers. Beware of blind corners. Beware of slippy paving slabs. Beware of steps. Beware of parked cars. Beware of dark nooks and crannies. Beware of uneven cobblestones. Beware of tricky route choice. Beware of the impending gloom. Seriously, do be careful around blind corners. Please compete within your capabilities, and remember that traffic has priority when you cross roads. The event occurs under British Orienteering rules.

Terrain Description

Once the heart of industrial Edinburgh the railway stations, goods yards and canal docks have made way for the offices, hotels and cafes which make up Edinburgh’s financial district. There are still touches of the original period features such as the Georgian terraces of Rutland Square and the cast iron gateway into the old Princes Street station but in general there is a lot of sandstone, glass and concrete.

The area is cut in half by the Western Approach Road. This is marked as Out of Bounds and should ONLY BE CROSSED VIA BRIDGES. Anyone caught crossing at the road level – even at pedestrian crossings – will be disqualified. DO NOT CHEAT!

There are areas where there is more than one level. See the map note below for how these are represented.

Courses will be 95%-100% asphalt/hard surfaces. Trainers are fine. Dobs are inappropriate. Shorts are fine.

Sunset is 18:24. A torch is recommended as there is no street lighting in some areas of the course. Even before sunset it may be quite dark in some places.

Course Lengths

Course Men's Class Women's Class Optimal Length (km) Straight Line length (km) Controls
1 Open   3.7 2.1 22
2 Vets 40+ Open 3.3 2.0 18
3 Super Vet 55+ Vets 40+ 2.8 1.5 14
4 Ultra Vet 65+ Super Vet 55+ 2.3 1.4 17
5   Ultra Vet 65+ 1.8 1.0 12
6 16- 16- 2.0 1.3 15
7 12- 12- 1.4 1.2 14

Maps and control descriptions will refer to the straight line length which is somewhat shorter than the optimal running distance.

Controls are marked by standard orienteering kites, attached to fixed objects by gripple wires. Numbers will only be on the SI unit. There will be no reflective markings.

Apologies, but there is no String Course.

Map notes

1:4000, 2.5m contours. Drawn by Graeme Ackland and Murray Strain over 2014. Laser printed by BML. Control descriptions on the map and loose in the start lanes.

Please note the use of the bridge symbol and two shades of brown for paved area/tarmac. The lines of the bridge are not as thick as other uncrossable features (like the wall through the centre of this extract) but they are still uncrossable.

The two shades of brown represent areas with- (darker) and without (lighter) car traffic. They should also highlight the different levels: in general, pedestrian areas are on the upper level.

Notes for Juniors (courses 6 & 7)

The nature of the British Orienteering insurance, means that we cannot accept entries for those under 16 years of age on the day of the race, to courses other than course 6 & 7. Junior courses are planned so that runners should not cross roads. There are some points where runners will cross the exit of car parks. Roads are marked as out of bounds on these course maps.
It should be noted that where a control circle overlaps with a road the area within the circle has not been marked as out of bounds but this is just for clarity and runners should not attempt to cross the road (and should not need to):

Some stretches of pavement used by the junior courses are very narrow (30cm or less). Where it is not possible to run on the pavement runners should keep as close to the edge of the road as possible. We hope to have some cones in position to give more space.

Course 7 visits one control twice (number 140 - control 6 and 12). Competitors should take care to visit the controls in the correct order and not be confused by this!

It is permissible for juniors to be “shadowed”, but this must be after the competitive run of the responsible adult: the nature of the area would otherwise give an advantage to the shadower.

Last edited: 13th Oct 14