Our featured Adventure Racers of the month are husband and wife adventure racing team Emma and Richard Gill. Emma is our 2023 female Series Champion and with Richard brings experience of over 30 Questars events. Emma and Richard share their experiences, insights, and tips to make your next Questars race a success.
Join us as we explore their journey, their favourite aspects of Questars adventure races, and the valuable advice they offer to newcomers looking to embark on their own adventure racing journey, as well as those contemplating racing with their partners. So, let’s dive into the wonderful world of Questars Adventure Races.
When did you participate in your first Questars adventure race?
Our first Questars experience was in July 2016, we did the 5-hour race, had no idea what we were doing, we assumed that each checkpoint would be manned with a table! Was an eye-opening experience, left us keen and addicted to entering Questars races.
Roughly how many Questars adventure races have you participated in?
Not really sure but it has to be around 15 each
What do you like most about Questars adventure races?
Our impulse answer is the planning a night away and a day out, the excitement of racing and the feeling of being alive it gives you and, very importantly, the nachos and tea. But on deeper reflection it is also the structure it gives us to train towards a date, the amazing, beautiful places that the races are set, the atmosphere, friendly competition and lovely Questars staff.
Why did you first get into adventure racing?
We both used to compete as age group GB triathletes which taught us to really enjoy the mix of disciplines, we were looking for something to do as a replacement and just happened to see Questars in our home town of Pershore in 2015.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started in adventure racing?
Pace yourself, don’t try to get those just out of reach check-points! Plan for all weather, punctures and take lots of snacks.
What is your strongest and weakest race discipline? How do you combat your weakest discipline?
We don’t really have a strongest discipline, we are similar at all three, our worst strength is map reading which deteriorates when we get tired! We try to combat this by having a map each so double check and really try to look at landmarks rather than running miles in the wrong direction. We are also learning not to just see other competitors and assume they are going in the right direction.
What does your training plan for an adventure race look like?
We don’t have an organised training plan anymore, we are both really physically busy in our work all day, we row twice a week in a rowing club and try to run a couple of times a week in the summer. We mountain bike and gym once a week in the winter. I do an online weights/pilates class most mornings. We are both getting older so we find it better for our joints to do less running now.
How do you fuel yourself for a Questars adventure race?
Luckily eating a lot is something we are both good at! We normally stay nearby the night before (part of the enjoyment!) have a good pub supper and pint of beer. A full cooked breakfast early in the morning, a coffee while we get everything ready. During the race we have electrolytes in our water, marmite sandwiches, snickers (hard to eat but good if you can!) jelly babies and red bull.
What type of bike do you normally use for a Questars adventure race?
We use matching Boardman 29er hardtails, matching was not intentional as bought together on offer when starting out, neither of us had mountain biked before, but now glad they are the same as we are competitive and would not like to feel one of us has an advantage!
What’s the one piece of non-mandatory kit in your bag that you could not do without?
Not in bag but clip in pedals was a surprising big help.
What’s the worst mistake you’ve ever made during an adventure race?
In our own patch (Cotswolds race) we live on Bredon Hill, train on Bredon Hill, we thought we knew everywhere and totally overstretched ourselves tried to get the furthest checkpoints, got a puncture, it poured with rain and we missed all near checkpoints and slunk into the finish with a massive time penalty.
What’s the weirdest/funniest/strangest thing that has happened to you during an adventure race?
Almost got taken out by a deer, it was so close it was nearly on my bike with me!
What is the most difficult part of adventure racing?
Planning the time for each discipline, getting out of the kayak when legs threaten to cramp, and knowing when to turn back for home.
What’s the most helpful advice for racing in a team?
We are a team of two and married so know each other really well, but keeping within the pace of the slowest team member for endurance and using the individual skills to best advantage. E.g I cannot time keep so don’t get involved, I am good at keeping us both fuelled, we have learned not to focus on any wrong or daft moments and just keep going. Some of our worst feeling races have turned out to be just good enough for a win.
What are your top five tips for adventure racing success?
- Lots of preparation the day before (bike maintenance, kit list, food).
- Allow plenty of time to get everything ready in the morning.
- Lots of looking at the maps and have a couple of different options of route.
- Pace and eat for endurance.
- Enjoy the experience.
Thank you Emma and Richard! Some excellent advice there, particularly regarding racing as a team and never knowing how well your race is going until you get back and find out how everyone else has done!
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!