The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

New Forest Adventure Race


Race Report

It was a glorious sunny day for the first adventure race of the year which took place on the north-western edge of the New Forest. The venues may have been used before for previous Questars adventure races but the course was very different with the trail run taking place along the Avon Valley and the mountain biking taking people up towards Salisbury and into the eastern part of Cranborne Chase; an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

Most of the top teams began by running first, crossing over the River Avon from the start in Fordingbridge before heading south along pathways through the pretty little villages that line the edge of the New Forest. Trail conditions were mixed; on the whole they were good to soft with some wet and muddy sections in places. The return saw participants cross back over the River Avon to head back to the event base along the Avon Valley Path – a long distance trail that takes its name from the water course that it follows.

Four people visited all the run checkpoints to score the maximum 360 points for the trail run. Helen Chapman was the fastest to do so, covering the 24.1 km with 279 m of ascent in a little over two and a half hours.

The kayaking took place on a lovely lake down at the New Forest Water Park. Participants had to visit the kayak checkpoints in a particular pattern in order maximise the distance paddled between checkpoints and they had been told this at the pre-race briefing. But teams only found out where the kayak checkpoints were positioned when they arrived at the transition point and looked at the master map on display so decisions had to be made then and there.

The wind did whip across the open water, making paddling into it hard work. However, the floating pontoons and walkways across the middle of the lake did a good job of interrupting and breaking up any waves before they had the chance to get too big. Andrew & Alex Cawthorne were the fastest of nine teams that visited all the kayak checkpoints to score the maximum 180 points for the kayaking. They paddled the full 5 km course in a time of 45 mins and 23 seconds – a good two minutes quicker than anyone else.

With the mountain bike checkpoints spread far and wide (to avoid the worst of the muddy bridleways), it was always going to be a big challenge to visit them all. The top teams all missed one or more of the bike checkpoints in order to create the most efficient loop that they could in the time they had remaining. Although not particularly hilly - the highest point on the course was only 160 m above sea level - the rolling terrain made quite a difference to the ground conditions with the byways across the higher ground providing the quickest off road routes between checkpoints. The best strategy was therefore to avoid the bridleways that ran along the bottom of the depressions as these tended to be poorly drained, and their soft muddy surfaces made progress hard work.

Rob Palmer was one of two teams that scored the full 460 pts by visiting all the mountain bike checkpoints. To do this, Rob cycled more than 53 km with some 600 m of ascent in a little over four and a half hours. The only other team to achieve this was the men’s pair of Luke Fulton & Georges Maccario.

The final scores reflected the tough nature of the course and showed that even the top teams had to make strategic decisions as to which checkpoints to visit, and which ones to miss out. Despite picking up a penalty for being just over 4 mins late back, veteran Roy Sievers finished with a score of 825 pts - just 10 pts more than veteran Paul Evans in second place. Third place went to Tom Hards with 780 pts. James Bennett and Scott Heys won the men’s team class by collecting a total of 760 pts, which was matched by an impressive performance by Helen Chapman. Helen though picked up a 20 pt penalty for overrunning by a couple of minutes to win the ladies class with a score of 740 pts. Top of the mixed class were Karen & Andy Jones with 715 pts whilst the 5 hour Duo race (run and bike only) was won by Kim Travis with 600 pts.

Ian Grace and daughter Beth scored 590 pts to comfortably win the novice category outright, 45 pts ahead of their nearest rivals Murray McMahon & Angela Laycock (also a mixed team). It was close at the top of the novice men’s class with just one point separating winners Dorian Tranter & Adam Longbottom (530 pts) from Philip Harvey (529 pts) in second place. Meanwhile Lesley Morison & Megan Cumberlidge scored 470 pts to finish 90 pts clear of everyone else in the novice ladies class. Well done to them and all the class winners - see the full race results

Thanks to the kind support from our event partners Likeys, Clif Bar, Amphibia, MuchBetterAdventures & MapDec for helping out with the winner’s prizes.

The next race in the 2017 Questars Adventure Race Series takes place on Saturday 13 May in the South Downs. Like all Questars adventure races, it is suitable for both beginners and experienced teams of 1, 2, 3 or 4 people. Places are going fast - enter online now before it sells out!

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