We kick off our monthly Q&A segment with a real stalwart of the adventure racing scene – Kevin Stephens. Kevin is based in Wiltshire and is a familiar face at races both in the UK and internationally. A multiple-time Questars race winner and series winner back in 2013, Kevin is an incredibly experienced racer. Read on to find out Kevin’s top tips for adventure racing.
When did you participate in your first Questars adventure race?
It was such a long time ago that I can’t remember exactly! I think it was in Thetford Forest back in 2003.
Roughly how many Questars adventure races have you participated in?
I have 16 Questars fridge magnets so at least that many. Although they only go back to 2013 and I have a few gaps in my collection.
Ed: We have checked our records and Kevin has actually participated in 44 Questars adventure races!
What do you like most about Questars adventure races?
They are a good length race for a single day.
What do you like most about adventure racing?
I like exploring new places.
Why did you first get into adventure racing?
I was inspired by the Eco Challenge programs when younger so loved the idea of long remote races in wild places. I used to do a lot of MTB orienteering and started running to improve my fitness. I then discovered adventure races in 2002 so had a go at them.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started adventure racing?
Expect to make mistakes.
What is the best piece of advice that you were given when you started adventure racing?
I don’t remember getting specific advice but I chap I used to race with said he rode up hills quickly so that the pain didn’t last as long. That seems like good advice.
What is your strongest and weakest race discipline? How do you combat your weakest discipline?
I’m probably strongest on the bike and weakest paddling, although that has improved over the years. To combat the paddling, I try to go faster on the bike and train more!
What does your training plan for an adventure race look like?
I set challenges to keep fit and enter races.
What is your favourite pre-, during- and post-race food?
I tend to have an omelette for breakfast, brunch bars during and reward myself with a burger afterwards.
What do you usually wear for a Questars adventure race?
Salomon speed cross trainers; Injinji and/or sealskin socks; some old manky bike shorts because they are comfy; a base layer and a windproof layer (with a gilet on the bike).
What bike do you tend to ride for a Questars adventure race?
Over the years I have used a number of different types of bike but nowadays I tend to ride a hardtail mountain bike with a suspension seat post.
What’s the one piece of non-mandatory kit in your bag that you could not do without?
A buff – such a versatile piece of kit.
What’s the worst mistake you’ve ever made during an adventure race?
Going to a dummy check point by accident.
Ed: To keep participants guessing before the race start, the initial maps we give out at registration normally include a couple of checkpoints which do not actually exist! These ‘dummy’ checkpoints have no description or points value. These are something that can catch out even the most experienced of racers, so it is good practice to cross these dummy checkpoints of your map when you first start and receive your checkpoint values and descriptions.
What have been some of your greatest adventure racing moments?
That’s a hard one because just getting to the start line of some races is an achievement. The race that stands out the most was probably the Adventure Racing World Championships in Costa Rica in 2013, it was a great experience with the mangroves, flying fish and jungle treks. As far as results go, finishing 4th at the 2012 Terrex adventure race in Scotland was a memorable achievement for me since it was only my second expedition length race. Oh, and I had better not forget winning the 2013 Questars series!
What is the most difficult part of adventure racing?
Getting to the start line – the rest is easy!
What’s the most helpful advice for racing in a team?
Choose good team mates and look after each other.
What are your top five tips for adventure racing success?
Train hard, bike fast, run fast, paddle fast, be organised.
Thank you, Kevin. Some excellent tips and lots of great advice from a very experienced racer.
Fancy racing in Kevin’s backyard? Sign up to our Wiltshire race below.
The 2023 Questars Series
The Wiltshire race is the first of our four one-day races which make up our 2023 Series Championship. Anyone entering into any of our adventure races will be automatically entered into our Series Championship with each individual’s top three one-day results counting towards the final Championship position. Full details can be found on our Series Championship page.