adventure racing tips
liz jones & maggie sater

Our featured Adventure Racers of the month are Liz Jones and Mags Salter who race under the team name ‘The Mad Old Tarts’ – a misnomer of a team name if ever we heard one!

With an incredible combined experience of over 35 years and one hundred races, Mags and Liz share their experiences and insightful tips to make your next Questars race a success.

Join us as we delve into their passion for the sport and explore their favourite aspects of Questars adventure races, and the valuable advice they offer to newcomers looking to embark on their own adventure racing journey. So, let’s dive into the wonderful world of Questars Adventure Races.

When did you participate in your first Questars adventure race?

On 1 April 2006 – we remember it well as it was on Mag’s birthday; we had two punctures and as a result didn’t manage to get to the kayaking, but we got very muddy and had such a laugh!

Roughly how many Questars adventure races have you participated in?

Far too many to count, but somewhere around 55…

What do you like most about Questars adventure races?

We love the format and the fantastic places we get to visit – the scenery is always amazing once we have dragged ourselves up to the inevitable ridge! Joe and Kim are very welcoming and, as experienced Adventure Racers themselves, they do set challenging courses. So, for us, it’s more about us versus the course rather than trying to beat the other competitors…although we are always happy to finish well up the ladies’ table.

What do you like most about adventure racing?

The challenge of combining different activities and trying to plot the most efficient route, plus the camaraderie of all the other competitors; Adventure racers are a friendly bunch.

Why did you first get into adventure racing?

Mag’s husband & friend had done a few and were really enjoying it, so we thought we had better see what all the fuss was about. We liked the idea of the three different disciplines too.

What advice would you give to someone just getting started in adventure racing?

Manage your expectations and play to your strengths – don’t attempt to complete the whole course as you are unlikely to, and the time penalties for getting back late can be costly!

What is the best piece of advice that you were given when you started adventure racing?

Master your map reading skills, and take your time, especially at the start as getting to the first couple of controls will boost your confidence for the remainder of the event.

What is your strongest and weakest race discipline? How do you combat your weakest discipline?

Our strongest is usually the biking or running depending on what injuries one or the other of us might be carrying. Our weakest is the kayaking, but we have improved at this by making sure we are in synch and get a good steady stroke going. Also, make sure the paddles are the right way up…yes, there is a right way!!

What does your training plan for an adventure race look like?

We don’t train specifically as we are both very active and do a lot of running and cycling most weeks, plus we live in hilly parts of the country so are not fazed by the terrain.

How do you fuel yourself for a Questars adventure race?

A good breakfast beforehand is essential e.g. porridge & toast for Liz and bircher muesli plus banana for Mags. During the race we both love plenty of nuts, Liz cannot do without her marmite sandwiches whilst Mags likes protein bars & energy chews taken at regular intervals to keep our energy levels up. And lots of water plus some isotonic fluids! Then ALL the food after the race…

What type of bike do you normally use for a Questars adventure race?

We both use mountain bikes with good suspension and grippy tyres.

What’s the one piece of non-mandatory kit in your bag that you could not do without?

A spare pair of cycling gloves as we use them on the kayaking for better grip which also helps to avoid blisters, but they do get wet so good to have a dry pair if you are not kayaking last.

What’s the worst mistake you’ve ever made during an adventure race?

We once missed marking a dummy control on our map and only realised after we had struggled up a very steep hill… you only make that kind of rooky error once…

What’s the weirdest/funniest/strangest thing that has happened to you during an adventure race?

Ha ha – how long have you got? Two incidents do stand out though, the first was when we came face to face with a very large but magnificent stag charging down a narrow lane. The hunt master was not best pleased with us as a large contingent of riders on very powerful horses were stopped in their tracks by these two women who had no option but to dive through the nearest gate to get out of their way. It was very intimidating, but we were rooting for the stag as it bounded over the hedges and away into the distance.

The other time we recall was when our bike route was alongside a field full of hay which made cycling difficult as the hay was spread quite deeply over the track. Our derailleurs got totally jammed with hay which took forever to get out… we thought we might never get back!

What is the most difficult part of adventure racing?

Decision making when you are under time-pressure to get to the finish. This is usually when you are most tired of course, which is why refuelling is so important. Also, the cramp when trying to get out of the kayak can be so undignified…

What’s the most helpful advice for racing in a team?

Keep checking with your teammates where you think you are on the map. Be supportive of each other and be flexible as things don’t always go to plan.

What are your top five tips for adventure racing success?

  1. Good preparation – have an idea of the distances you are likely to cover using your experience from previous races.
  2. Keep well refuelled and hydrated.
  3. Have realistic expectations and be prepared to change your plans mid race if necessary…stuff happens.
  4. Pace yourselves …Mags is still working on this one… it’s good that Liz keeps her over enthusiasm in check!
  5. ENJOY IT!!!

Thank you Mags and Liz! Some excellent advice there, I especially like the point about taking time at the start of the event, It can be important to start slowly and build confidence with the first few checkpoints – particularly when just starting out.

Do you fancy giving adventure racing a go? Follow the link below to sign up to our next events:

The Questars Winter Series Championship

The Questars Winter Series Championship spans the four winter races starting in the South Downs in November and culminating in the Cotswolds in February. This series of races is not just about testing your physical limits but also about strategy and embracing the unexpected challenges that adventure racing throws your way. Full details can be found on our Series Championship page with the key details below:

  • Your top three results count towards your series score so consistency and performance across multiple races matter.
  • No registration is required to take part in the series – series scores are automatically calculated for every finisher of every race, irrespective of the number of races they’ve done.
  • Series scores are calculated for every unique team member’s name so make sure your name is spelt the same for every race that you enter.
  • Changing teams / team names throughout the series won’t affect your series score.
  • Series prizes will be awarded to those at the top of the series leaderboard, i.e. those with the highest series scores, after the final race of the series. The competition is fierce, and the rewards are worth the effort!
  • In the event of a tie at the top, head-to-head race results will be used to determine the series winner (i.e. who beat who in the races in which all the tied participants took part). If this is also tied then the combined times (only for these head-to-head races) will be used, with the person with the fastest cumulative time being crowned the series champion.

 We look forward to seeing you soon for a winter adventure!

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