The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

 

Full Race Scores : available via www.emituk.com

 

Race Report 

Well over 450 adventure racers converged upon Brockenhurst in the heart of the New Forest on Saturday 29 March to compete in the first event of the 2008 Rivette questars adventure race series.

The event was a sell out with all places being sold weeks before the closing date. Over two hundred teams participated ranging from beginners to the very experienced. The course was designed to provided a challenge for all these levels. On the day the weather conspired to provide even more of a challenge.

All teams were welcomed and briefed on the course in the large sports hall of Brockenhurst College.  A remote bike/run transition point half way towards the start and the kayak transition point on the Beaulieu River provided a variation on the normal questars format. It opened up new areas of the Forest for the running stage as well as many strategic options for teams to consider.

A few hints were given as to the conditions of the terrain. Heavy rain over recent days had resulted in much of Beaulieu Heath becoming waterlogged with extensive standing water. Teams were advised that the best place to get really muddy was the quagmire that had formed around checkpoint 15 on the eastern side of the heath. Indeed many racers returned at the end of the day with stories of wading waist deep to this and other checkpoints!

The sun was shining upon early starters but the weather changed to rain and strong winds by late morning and this continued with only the briefest of respites throughout the afternoon. Running and biking across the open areas was particularly tough. News that the same headwind had resulted in the slowest time since 1947 for the winning crew in the Boat Race the same afternoon came as no surprise as many adventure racers amended their early planned routes to combat the biting wind and lashing rain.

Those that chose to concentrate upon the mountain biking were rewarded with more sheltered conditions within the extensive cycleway network in the forest enclosures in the northern part of the course map. There was no escape from the wind if teams wished to clear all the biking checkpoints. Some were located in the far south west where views of the Isle of Wight were just possible across the Solent.

Runners who chose to head north from the bike/run transition also gained some shelter. Conditons under foot were extermely muddy in places. This slowed down even the fastest runners and so unusually no one cleared all trail run checkpoints although some came very close.

The kayaking stage was the highlight for many - on a delightful stretch of the Beaulieu River. With checkpoints located on the scenic tidal river both up and downstream of the launch slipway teams had a key choice of which way to paddle first. It took some strong paddling to clear all six checkpoints on the river within the allocated kayaking time slot and five teams managed this feat ( Quatro, The Next Unlikelies, Simon Proud, TG1 and Malf ).

As all participants finished under the big yellow arch they were rewarded for their efforts with a goodie bag from one of questars new event partners, Merrell. A warm welcome and sanctuary from the still insistent weather was provided in the sports hall. Hot showers plus hot drinks and a very popular hot chilli were all consumed in great quantities. Also in great demand were the sports massages from coastmassage and the bike hose down service provided by students of the college. Soon all the results were ready and Ollie, Merrell's event manager was on hand to present the prizes to top teams in each of eleven categories. Prizes were a combination of great goods from other questars partners Likeys, Silva, Timex, 2 Pure, The Bike Chain, SIS as well as Merrell.

It was great to see newcomers within the prize winners as well as questars regulars. Everyone received a big round of appluase for contending with some very tough conditions that turned the normally quite benign New Forest into a real test.  Full scores including split times are available at www.emituk.com Check out the many variations in routes taken by teams and see what routes the top teams took.  Photographs of all racers were taken throughout the day and were on display at the prize giving. They are available via www.rightplacerighttime.co.uk

The next event in the Rivette questars adventure race series 2008 is on Saturday 31 May in the Brecon Beacons with some great terrain for running and biking and kayaking upon the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. Places are being taken up very early and this event will also sell out well before the usual closing date for entries. So if you wish to take part  do enter on line via www.questars.co.uk quickly to secure a place. Remember there are some great  prizes including a Rivette mountain bike, Merrell clothing and Timex and Silva equipment for series leaders. The best three scores over the four event series count. So even if you didn't make it to the New Forest event there is still opportunity to qualify for the series pizes by taking part in the remaining three questars events.

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