The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

Cotswolds Adventure Race

 

Race Report

It was a beautiful day for the second event in the 2016 Questars Adventure Race Series which saw a full capacity field enjoy the breath-taking vistas and butterscotch-coloured villages of the Cotswolds. There was really only one hill in the course area – Bredon Hill – but it stretched right across the map and dominated much of the landscape. Because of its large footprint, Bredon Hill didn’t look too intimidating from afar (i.e. from the start) but it has a sting in its tail as it gets quite steep towards the top as you ascend the north side.

Most of the top teams began on foot, visiting the trail run checkpoints which were spread out over the Vale of Evesham and the northern side of Bredon Hill. There was some nice flat running along Shakespeare’s Way and the River Avon to visit the closest checkpoints which was enough for some people and provided others with a chance to stretch their legs before attacking the hill. A good number of teams made it up to the ancient standing stones on the hill top, the largest of which is known as ‘Elephant Stone’ because of its resemblance to the animal. The highest point is marked by Parsons Folly (Banbury Stone Tower), which is 1000 feet above sea level and shares the summit with the remains of Kemerton Camp - a 1st Century A.D. Iron Age hill fort.

Anyone visiting the furthest trail run checkpoints enjoyed a nice but long run along the top of Bredon Hill before dropping down and returning through the pastures around the foot of the hill (or vice versa if they went round the checkpoints in a clockwise direction). Covering 27 km and with 600 m of ascent it was a big ask to visit all the run checkpoints (420 pts) and this was reflected by the fact that only four teams achieved this, with the race winner doing so in a very fast time of 2 hr 32 mins.

The River Avon provided the perfect setting for the kayaking with six checkpoints spaced out over a 3 km stretch of this large meandering river. From the bank the river barely seemed to be moving but the difference soon became apparent when teams turned around to head back upriver to the kayak transition. And the movement of water was even more pronounced under the old Pershore Bridge where teams had to paddle hard for 10-15 m against flow in order to make it through the arches and up to the high value, northernmost kayak checkpoint.

Everyone had up to 60 minutes for the kayaking and 25 teams visited all the kayak checkpoints within this time limit, earning the maximum 160 pts in the process. Campbell Walsh was the fastest to do so – which is perhaps not surprising when you know Campbell won a canoeing silver medal at the Athens Olympics – recording a time of 51 minutes and 37 seconds. Hot on his heels in 51 minutes and 56 seconds was the men’s pair of Jon Godfrey & Fred Maxwell Hart.

Bredon Hill was once again the focal point for the mountain biking, with its numerous bridleways and positioning of the checkpoints offering an infinite number of route choices. But for many the main challenge was getting up it. There is no easy way up Bredon Hill on a bike and at the pre-race briefing teams were encouraged to ascend using the less steep tracks on the southern side of the hill to avoid having to get-off-and-push. Once up top there was some lovely varied off road riding to be enjoyed with amazing views across to the Malvern Hills and beyond. The descent off the hill was exhilarating and over much too quickly whichever route down was taken.

Eight teams cycled the minimum 44 km with over 700 m of ascent to visit all the mountain bike checkpoints (420 pts). Campbell Walsh put in a perfect performance on his bike, taking just 2 hours and 20 minutes to do the course planner’s route. And so having cleared the whole course (by visiting every run, bike and kayak checkpoint) in 5 hrs 47 mins it was Campbell who took the overall race win with the maximum score of 1000 pts.

Campbell finished 60 pts clear of second placed Adam Jackson on 940 pts. Third and fourth place went to Gary Davies (Team EnduranceLife) and Michael Holloway respectively - both scored 920 pts, but Gary did so in a faster time. Kevin Stephens (Ellis Brigham AR) was the top veteran, whose solid score of 900 pts saw him finish fifth overall. The men’s teams’ class was won by Nick Gracie & Piers Stockwell (GODZone Mountain Hardwear) with 880 pts whilst Carol & Andy Yarrow scored 870 pts to take top spot in the mixed team’s class. Katherine Bond finished head and shoulders above the other ladies teams on 800 pts.

The men’s team of Andrew & Daniel Balfour convincingly won the novice race with a score of 740 pts – some 49 pts clear of Paul Floodgate & Doug Chrystie in second place. Rory & Ruth Turnball finished top in the novice mixed teams class (and fourth overall) with 617 pts just 2 pts clear of their nearest rivals, whilst the winners of the novice ladies class Gill Harrison & Annie Elkins also scored 615 pts but did so some 14 seconds quicker to finish in fifth place overall in the novice race. The Duo race (which excludes kayaking) was won by Stephen Jobson with 665 pts. See the full race results.

The winners in each class were presented with prizes thanks to the kind support from Muc-Off, Clif Bar, MapDec, BCH Camping & Stique. Well done to everyone who took part. It was great to see all abilities taking on the Questars challenge and the smiles on everyone’s faces as they crossed the finish line – see all the race photos.

The next race in the 2016 Questars Adventure Race Series takes place on Saturday 9 July in the Chilterns. Like all Questars adventure races, it is suitable for both beginners and experienced teams of 1, 2, 3 or 4 people. Places are filling fast - enter online now before it sells out!

 

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