The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

South Downs Adventure Race


Course Conditions

Information about the course area and its condition for the 2017 South Downs adventure race


Special Notes

Watch out, slow down and give way to other people and animals. The South Downs is a popular area so expect to encounter lots of walkers and horse riders whilst out on the trails.

There are many working farms on the South Downs, with livestock occupying a good number of areas. Please make sure you not only shut gates behind you but that you also make sure they are properly fastened to ensure the sheep and cattle do not escape from their fields. 

Parts of the course are remote and exposed to the elements - whether that be wind, rain or even the sun! The weather can change very quickly and at this time of year it is not uncommon to have several seasons all in the same day. Make sure you are fully prepared for whatever the day brings! Fingers crossed it will be nice.


Ground Conditions

Unless you have been living abroad for the last few months, you don't need us to tell you just how dry it's been and how hard the ground is as a result - this is the wettest puddle (bit of mud) we could find! Even if it rains this week, the ground is unlikely to soften significantly. With so little give in the ground it does mean that the surface of some trails can become very slippery with only the smallest amount of moisture, so do take care when on bare chalk / grass if it is damp or if their is dew on the ground.

There are flint nodules and chalk stones within the ground in places. The nodules can have incredibly sharp edges (this is why our ancestors used them as tools during the Stone Age). These aren't very common and they shouldn't cause you a problem unless your bike tyres aren't in a good condition or you happen to fall on one. Just be aware though that the nodules and stones do get washed out of the ground and collect in depressions so watch out for these accumulations of loose stones.


Trail Run

The Trail Run is largely on public rights of way (e.g. public footpaths and bridleways) and a few other permitted trails (e.g. permitted footpaths), with a few sections on tarmac (pavements / minor roads) to link them together.

The trails are firm and vary from hard baked uneven mud and earth to lush green grassy meadows. Most are somewhere in between with chalky and stony earth tracks typical of the bulk of the trails that you will be running along. The terrain is undulating to hilly, with the steepest ascents and descents reserved for those visiting the furthest Trail Run checkpoints on the far side of the South Downs.

Trail shoes with a decent tread are recommended if you have them.


Mountain Biking

The trails and hence trail conditions for the Mountain Biking are very similar to those for the Trail Run, the only difference being that footpaths are not used of course.

The off road riding is all on restricted bywaysbridleways and other designated cycle routes. The restricted byways tend to be wide vehicle (farm) tracks and as such they often have a good base but can be uneven in places. There's not much difference between these restricted byways and the main bridleways (e.g. The South Downs Way) whilst other bridleways are not so well defined and have a grassy surface.

Meanwhile the cycle routes tend be either tarmac or have a flat all-weather compacted fine gravel surface which makes for some easy riding. Please keep your speed down when passing other cyclists, especially families with young children. A bell is strongly recommended so you can warn others of your approach. Where cycle routes exist alongside roads, please make sure you use the cycle route - not only is this safer and more considerate to drivers, but there is often less up and down as they follow old railway lines.

Bikes are not allowed on footpaths - there are no excuses - it's the law! Make sure you know the difference between footpaths and bridleways. Look out for fingerposts to keep you on the right track and make sure you follow any other signs.

Take care whilst crossing and cycling on roads. Even minor roads can be busy with fast moving vehicles as they are used as short cuts. Always cycle single file (apart from being considerate to others, it's more efficient) and keep in to the left hand side so that vehicles can pass when it's safe for them to do so.



The kayaking takes place on a tidal estuary. The difference between high tide and low tide is quite signifcant - no more so than at that transition point (where you get on and off the water).

When the tide is in the water comes right up to the top of the slipway and their is very little room to get on and off the water. The channel of water is very wide in places at high tide and as such is exposed to the wind which can whip up small waves on the surface. Stick to the side of the channel to avoid the worst of these.

When the tide is out you will need to walk down a wooden slipway (caution required - as the name suggests it could be slippy) and across the shingle to reach the water. The water level is obviously lower and the channel of water narrower, and the water is therefore a bit more protected from any wind and less susceptible to surface motion. However you will have the flow of the river to contend with, so again stick to the side of the channel to avoid the fastest moving water and follow all instructions from the water safety team.

Note you may need to walk into the water a bit before getting onto your kayak if it is shallow so expect to get your feet wet.

The sides of the estuary have muddy banks. We strongly recommend you keep off these as the mud is incredibly slippery and you will slip over.

There is a public car park near the estuary which spectators may like to use. Parking is not allowed anywhere on the site that participants will use. Please ask any spectators accompanying you to keep out of the transition area - there is plenty of room for them to watch from alongside the estuary.



View all the photos taken on recent recce's showing different parts of the course here


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