The long-distance course used for last year’s men's World Orienteering Championships (WOC) in the Scottish Highlands has been named as the best of 2015 by the website World of O.
The accolade was bestowed upon the course in Glen Affric, which was also used when the Championships were previously held in Scotland in 1999, after consultation with more than 1,000 individuals involved in orienteering.
Designed by Steve Nicholson and Brian Bullen, the course encompassed a forest of pine, birch and oak with steep slopes, complex contour details and few paths.
It won almost three times as many votes as the second-placed World Cup long-distance course in Tasmania in Australia.
"This award caps off a really successful WOC for the organising team, and hopefully reflects our concentration on keeping it athlete-focussed," said Paul McGreal, WOC 2015 race director.
"It’s well justified recognition for the amazing skills, dedication, enthusiasm and expertise of the orienteering community in Scotland and beyond.
"We proved that Scotland is capable of delivering a huge event on a world stage using largely volunteer efforts."
The course provided the final challenge of WOC 2015, which took place between July 31 and August 8 in various locations across Highland and Moray, and coincided with the 20th edition of the biennial Scottish 6-Days race.
"The World Orienteering Championships and Scottish 6-Days were a huge success in 2015 and the 'Orienteering Course of the Year 2015' prize is a fitting reward for our partners who worked tirelessly to deliver such a tremendous event," said Paul Bush, VisitScotland’s director of events.
"Congratulations to the course planning team, who have positioned Scotland at the forefront of the sport and demonstrated why our stunning landscapes and natural assets make Scotland the perfect stage for orienteering events."
WOC 2015 is said to have been one of the most successful events in Scotland last year, drawing almost 7,000 overseas spectators and participants, and generating £9.4 million ($13.5 million/€12.5 million) for the Scottish economy, it is claimed.
Mike Hamilton, chief executive of British Orienteering, said: "The award is a fitting tribute to the fantastic terrain within Glen Affric and the way in which it was used by the very talented planning team.
"The world-class courses provided physical and mental challenges for the athletes and those that achieved top places knew they had been tested.
"We hope to be back in the Scottish Highlands for further international competition soon."
Denmark topped the WOC 2015 medals table thanks to golds for Maja Alm in the women’s sprint, Ida Bobach in the women’s long-distance race, and the trio of Alm, Bobach and Emma Klingenberg in the women’s relay.
Alm and Klingenberg also triumphed in the mixed sprint relay alongside Tue Lassen and Søren Bobach.
Switzerland struck gold twice on the men's side with Daniel Hubmann winning the middle-distance race and partnering Fabian Hertner and Matthias Kyburz to relay success.
Thierry Gueorgiou of France powered to his 13th World Championships gold medal with a hard-fought victory in the men’s long-distance race on the final day of the event.