Purbeck - 16 & 17 April 2011
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Q2 - The Quest Challenge
The 2011 Questars Adventure Race Series - Event 2
Full race results including details of individual stages, are available to download and view above.
Photos of participants in action across Purbeck during Q2 The Quest Challenge have been added to the Questars website gallery here. Photos from each of the four stages have been put in separate folders.
'The sun always shines in Purbeck' and indeed it did last weekend as adventure racers enjoyed glorious weather. Q2 The Quest Challenge is Quest’s weekend adventure race. It builds upon the success of the one day Questars adventure race series.
This Q2 event which was held in the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset on 16 & 17 April attracted a great range of participants. Some of the best adventure racers in the UK competed as did novices who were taking part in their first event. The courses were designed with all comers in mind and judging by the smiles on the faces of everyone at the final Prize Giving and the feedback from teams everyone greatly enjoyed the challenge event.
Most teams arrived on Friday evening and took advantage of the event campsite and the on site catering. Saturday morning dawned early with still calm conditions under high cloud - ideal racing conditions. Just after 9am everyone had arrived and congregated in the event marquee to be welcomed and briefed on the challenges ahead in the 4 stage event. As the pre event information promised each Stage had a twist or two. Surprises could be expected. A great variety of terrain was also promised from open heathland, forests, chalk ridges, the second largest natural harbour in the world and some wonderful coastal scenery. Teams were reminded to keep looking up from their maps to enjoy the countryside and extensive views.
As there is a certain royal event happening in just over a week's time the four stages were linked with by a royal theme. In a change from the Questars format of staggered starts with Q2 all teams started together in a mass start picking up details of the first stage called Royal Wedding as they crossed the start line. This revealed that the differently coloured sets of checkpoints (CPs) were in fact royal wedding guests. At the far side of the spacious event field an Information Point showed the location of a final set of two - the bride and groom. Collect a whole set of checkpoints and an additional bonus was earned. One of each set of wedding guests was out on Poole Harbour and had to visited by kayak. All the other CPs were scattered within the forest and surrounding hills and heathland offering many different route choices. Teams departed the event field on bikes in all directions.
The prolonged dry spell during Spring had dried out much of the area and so tracks and paths were in excellent condition for some fast riding. Poole Harbour was akin to a mill pond which enabled many teams to collect all the kayaking CPs. Three teams managed also to collect all the wedding guests on bikes to scoop all available points in this first Stage. These three teams - Simon Proud, Allan Bowe & Dan Johnson, and Tom Davies were to go on to contest the lead in all subsequent stages and finish in the top three positions overall.
After a welcome break to rest and recover teams reassembled mid afternoon under the big yellow start arch for the beginning of Stage 2 of Q2 The Quest Challenge. This Stage called 'Long to reign over us?' posed the question of whether Prince William, the future King William V will reign for as long as some of his ancestors. Each of the CPs on this trail running stage was named after a British monarch. Their value was equivalent to the length of the monarch's reign. An Information Point, just after the mass Start revealed these reign lengths ie the CP values. But there were still a few surprises. Big bonuses were on offer if teams also completed a challenge at an Activity Point. These continued the theme by asking teams to also 'tie the knot' - well actually two specific knots. Another Activity Point displayed an aerial photograph of where Prince Harry had hidden the 'going away car' which if located earned teams an extra 30 points.
Tom Davies again won this stage visiting every monarch bar George VI to gain 395 points out of a possible maximum of 410. Top Novice competitor Jiri Vystjn also reinforced his leading position after Stage 1 in that category, by posting an exceptional score of 376 points beating all the Masters teams bar two. Although this was the Czech athletes' first UK adventure race he is a seasoned runner and adventure sportsman and had travelled all the way from his workplace in Qatar to compete in Q2.
It was now time for some serious refuelling. Fuel Catering was a busy hub of the event all the way through to the start of the third Stage called Royal Houses at 8.30pm. The British monarchs had all relocated to new locations. All were worth the same amount but were arranged into four sets according to their respective houses. So teams visiting for example all the three Tudor monarchs gained an extra bonus. Additionally there was one compulsory checkpoint at which another royal themed challenge proved to be the decider between the top five teams who managed to visit all the dozen monarchs. A near full moon was clearly visible and provided strong moonlight to help teams navigate around the forest.
Head torches shone out across the event field as teams converged from all directions back to the floodlit yellow arch at the end of their third stage. Most teams arrived back early to gain some time bonuses for doing so. There was a real buzz in the event marquee afterwards as teams swapped route choices and experiences of the day.
Sunday dawned with a low mist under a clear sky. The sun soon burnt off the mist and shone all day to show off Purbeck at its best. Stage 4 the Grand Finale of Q2 The Quest Challenge brought all the elements together – trail running, mountain biking, kayaking and a further Challenge at another Activity Point. Only 14 points divided the top three teams, and in many of the other classes there was close competition for top honours. So lots still to play for in this final Stage.
Teams had received Stage Notes in advance but maps were only distributed at the mass Start. These were eagerly studied to decide on which element to do first. It was a fairly even split between biking and running first.
Kayaking all the way around one of the islands of Poole Harbour was a highlight for many teams. For others it was the run around the headland of Ballard Down to Old Harry Rocks and some of the most scenic sea stacks in Britain. Others majored on the very varied biking on fast grassy bridleways and some technical single tracks through the heathland. Views right across Purbeck were enjoyed by many as they visited the Activity Point set high on the chalk ridge. The Challenge here revealed William & Kate's secret honeymoon location, which turns out to be deep in the glorious scenery of the Isle of Purbeck!
As participants finished this multi element Stage their faces showed a mixture of exhilaration, exhaustion and huge satisfaction at completing their own personal Quest Challenge.
A big round of applause was heard at the start of Prize Giving as all the teams congratulated each other. There were some exceptional performances from Novices and Masters alike. The overall winner Tom Davies achieved 1791 points out of a possible maximum of 2000, with Allan Bowe & Dan Johnson in second place with 1757 points and Simon Proud in third place with 1708 points. Prize vouchers were awarded to top teams in each of six classes to spend with event partner and outdoor clothing and kit retailer, www.Likeys.com.
Many teams had not been to this wonderful corner of England before. Over the weekend they explored many different aspects of Purbeck. Most said they would certainly be returning. The next Questars events are 1 day ones in the Brecon Beacons in on 21 May, the Wiltshire Downs on 16 July and the Cotswolds on 3 September. The series concludes with a further Q2 The Quest Challenge event in Thetford Forest in Suffolk on 1 & 2 October.