The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

New Forest Adventure Race

 

Race Report

All photos on this page courtesy of and remain copyright of www.charleswhittonphotography.com © 2015

The first race in the 2015 Questars Adventure Race Series was as popular as ever with places selling out over a month in advance. Starting and finishing in Fordingbridge on the north west side of the New Forest, the course area was to the north of areas used for this event in the past, giving regular Questars participants new terrain to explore.

In fact the only thing that was the same as the last Questars adventure race held in this part of the New Forest was the kayaking which took place on a lake at the New Forest Water Park. But even this was different; the kayak checkpoints had to be visited in a hub-and-spoke pattern and their location wasn’t revealed until teams arrived at the kayak transition (as there wasn’t enough room to mark them in the usual way on participants’ maps). The fastest teams cycled the 6.3 km on roads from the start to the kayak transition in just under 20 minutes.

The lake was surprisingly sheltered from the blustery winds that affected much of the rest of the course, especially when running and biking on the higher, open ground. Over 80 teams took advantage of the calm water to paddle the 3 km required to visit all the kayak checkpoints (150 pts) within their allocated 50 minute timeslot. Eighteen of these teams, 4 of which were Novices, did so in less than 30 minutes - the guide time given for the fastest kayakers by the course planner - with the fastest being Mark Humphrey & Tom Davis who clocked a kayak time of 26:04.

The permitted off road cycle routes in the area were such that anyone wanting to visit the furthest mountain bike checkpoints would have to commit to doing a big bike loop of at least 35 km. However, with the dummy checkpoints crossed off the map, it became clear that this big loop was only really worth doing if you intended to visit all the mountain bike checkpoints. For everyone else, a large number of points could be earned by doing a much smaller loop on the western half of the map which incorporated the majority of the mountain bike checkpoints. Of the 23 teams that each cycled over 53 km to visit all the mountain bike checkpoints (450 pts), a special mention goes to Tom Blindell who was the only Novice participant to do so.

Ground conditions were ideal and were on the whole quite firm for this time of year. The absence of any significant rain in the previous month meant the paths and tracks had dried out a lot and a couple of brief showers on the day helped bind the finer dirt and dust together. However participants still returned from the mountain biking with muddy legs and mud-splattered faces for the routes, sheltered from the sun by the trees, were quite soft, wet and muddy in places. And tracks like that called ‘Puddleslosh Lane’ lived up to their name!

Participants started their trail run from the event base and crossed the Avon Valley to reach the open heathland and wood inclosures that characterise this part of the New Forest. Although there are no big hills, there was still plenty of short sharp up’s and down’s as the most direct route between checkpoints saw participants cross the stream valleys, that cut into the topography, numerous times. All this added up to over 400 m of up and down for the 7 teams that ran over 25 km to visit all the trail run checkpoints, the overall race winner doing so in a time of 2:13:51.

With time running out, teams made their way back to the finish in Fordingbridge. Hot food, drinks and showers were all waiting for the tired but happy participants after they crossed the line – see what some of them said about the race here.

Prizes from event partners Likeys, MuleBarMuc-OffStique were handed out at the prize giving to all 10 teams that won their class. It was tight at the top with only 8 minutes separating the top 4 teams who each scored the maximum 1000 pts by visiting every single checkpoint (run, bike and kayak) and clearing the course! The quickest to do so, in 5:46:57, was last year's Questars adventure race series champion Kris Smith (Team EnduranceLife) who started this year as he finished 2014 - in first place! Mark Humphrey & Tom Davis were some 3 minutes slower to finish second overall and top of the men’s teams class, whilst third placed and top mixed team Sabrina Verjee & Ben Turner (Team EnduranceLife) finished 3 minutes behind them with a time of 5:53:07. The fourth and final person to score 1000 pts was Veteran Nick Gracie (Team adidas Terrex) who did so in 5:54:48. Isla Reynolds won the Ladies class with 705 pts.

There were some high scores and unexpected wins in the 5 hour Novice class, which was reflected by the fact none of the winners were present at the prize giving. The top 3 Novice teams all received penalties for being late back, but once these had been deducted it was James Bennett & Scott Heys who finished first with 718 pts. Close behind in second and third with 707 pts and 705 pts respectively was Veteran Matthew Griffiths and Mike Salter. Peter Coupe, Mark Follows & Liz Follows were the first mixed team with a score of 626 pts whilst 620 pts saw Rachel Eveling finish top of the ladies class. Meanwhile there were no surprises in the 5 hour Duo class (excludes kayaking option) which was won by regular New Forest Duo race winners Matthew Hammerton & Oliver Mytton (Alpkit Adventure) with a very impressive score of 800 pts – over 100 pts more than any other Duo team. 

The next race in the 2015 Questars Adventure Race Series takes place on the last weekend in April in The Malvern’s – a new area for Questars! Like all Questars adventure races, it is suitable for both novice and experienced teams of 1, 2, 3 or 4 people.

 

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