The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

The Chilterns Adventure Race

 

Race Report

A new area of the Chiltern Hills was used for the 2016 Chilterns adventure race. Up until now, the Chiltern’s adventure race had always been held towards the north eastern end of this area of outstanding natural beauty. But that changed this year with the event moving to the south western tip of this line of rolling chalk hills that stretches over 70km through south east England. Based from a school on the edge of Caversham (near Reading), the course area extended westwards on the north side of the River Thames as far as Goring.

The chance to explore a new area and its ease of access (good road and rail links) proved popular with all available kayaks being filled. As well as lots of teams from London and the Home Counties it was nice to see a good number of teams from abroad including a large group from France, some of whom had come over just to take part in the race.

For most participant’s, the order in which they undertook the different disciplines was governed by what time they were kayaking. Those kayaking first had a 2-4 km run through a residential area down to the kayak transition which was situated on the southern bank of the River Thames. Most took the opportunity to visit a couple of Trail Run checkpoints along the way and these were strategically positioned so as to encourage participants off the streets and get them into the many parks and open green spaces.

The kayak checkpoints were spread over a 3 km section of the River Thames, which stretched downstream to Caversham Lock and up as far as St Mary’s Island. Although the river was wide (over 50 metres), it was perhaps one of the more interesting - and definitely one of the more varied - sections of river to kayak on with paddling through a mix of both urban and rural environments. As well as passing underneath the ornate 1920’s Caversham Bridge & Reading Bridge, the kayaking took participants around Fry’s Island and under Christchurch Bridge - the new £5.9m cable-stayed pedestrian and cycle bridge that only opened last year and links the centre of Reading with the cross-river suburb, and former village, of Caversham.

Veterans Daniel & Helen Murphy recorded the fastest kayak time of the day, completing the 6 km round trip in 49 mins 43 secs. They were one of 21 teams who visited all the kayak checkpoints within the 60 minute time limit to score 200 pts, and the only team to do so in less than 52 minutes. Team B.A.W.D. were the quickest Novice team, clearing the kayak course in 55 mins 53 secs.

With the trail run checkpoints spread out in an elongate fashion across the woods and hills to the north of the River Thames, it was hard to know which checkpoints to visit on the way out and which should be left for the way back. Five participants (all solo men) visited all the trail run checkpoints and scored the maximum 400 pts for this discipline. Despite taking different routes and visiting the checkpoints in different orders, the total trail run distance covered by each of them was almost identical. There times were similar too with less than 10 minutes separating four of them; the fastest of whom was Kris Smith (EnduranceLife) who covered the 27 km with 450 m of ascent in 2 hrs 44 mins 34 secs – just one minute quicker than his nearest rival!

The mountain bike checkpoints were positioned such that it was easy to create a loop to fit your ability and the time available. For the 22 teams that scored 400 pts by visiting all the mountain biking checkpoints the question was not so much which checkpoints to leave for the way back but more when to go in and visit those checkpoints in the middle of the map. Tom Davies (EnduranceLife) recorded an unbelievably fast time, clearing the 42 km mountain bike course with 560 m of ascent in a fraction over the two hours – 2:00:50 to be precise! And it was this that proved to be the decisive factor with many of the other top teams taking 15 to 45 minutes longer to do likewise.

It was close at the top when the results came in, with Tom Davies & Gary Davies (both EnduranceLife) the only people to visit every single checkpoint (1000 pts). Gary picked up a 10 pt penalty for going slightly over the 6 hour time limit and so finished second to Tom Davies who emerged victorious with a winning time of 5 hrs 43 mins. Adam Jackson - the series leader going into the race - scored 960 pts to finish third, 10 pts ahead of series rival and top veteran Rob Smart who finished fourth overall. Fifth placed Ross Remnant tied with Rob on 950 pts but took a few minutes longer to amass these.

Jeremy Waite & Jake Morris won the men’s teams class with 850 pts while Phil Haycock & Stacey Carden’s (Fuzion Adventure Racing Team) 825 pts saw them finish top of the mixed teams. A surprised Rachel Eveling came first in the ladies class with a score of 690 pts. The winners of each class were presented with prizes thanks to the kind support from Muc-Off, Clif Bar, MapDec & Stique.

The top novice team were Andy Turner & Andy Lloyd who scored 720 pts and finished with a minute and a half to spare. Second placed team B.A.W.D. actually collected 10 more points than them but were just over 10 minutes late back and so ended up with a score of 708 pts. Both third and fourth placed teams overran to end up on 659 pts a piece but it was Doug & Paul who were third as they finished closest to the five hour time limit. Emma & Richard Gill were the top novice mixed team scoring 638 pts whilst the novice ladies class was won by Laura Frowen with 580 pts. Sid Hardy’s score of 695 pts saw him finish first in the 5 hour Duo race (run and bike only). Well done to all the aforementioned and everyone else that took part. See the full race results.

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

 

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