The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

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The 2010 Questars Adventure Race Series - Race 3


Full race results, provided by EMIT, are available to download and view above, along with the 2010 series leaderboard which has been updated with the scores from this race.


Photos taken during the event by professional photographer Rob Howard are available to view on the sleepmonsters website here in an album called 'Questars AR (3) - Chilterns'. You can also purchase copies of yourself in action, but these photos are only available for 90 days after the event so do take a look at them before they disappear. 

Race Report:

Teams arrived early on Saturday morning to collect their team packs. Inside, amongst a race number, an electronic score card and various other things, was a waterproof map with all the check points pre marked on it. The map was the source of much scrutiny as teams worked out which checkpoints they would visit and in which order they would visit them. Energy bars kindly provided by MuleBar were also available for competitors to take one each for the race.

The Race Briefing, which was held inside the clubhouse, covered the finer details of the race and the course. There was also lots of practical advice for those that had never done an adventure race before. It was quite cosy in the small clubhouse with everyone in there, but what the hall lacked in size, it more than made up for with its location and other on-site facilities.

Teams had staggered start times to ensure they were well spaced right from the word go. Starting under a big yellow arch, each team collected a waterproof checkpoint card which listed the description and value of each checkpoint. With the clock ticking teams quickly identified and crossed off the dummy checkpoints from their map and adjusted their planned route accordingly.

It was up to each team whether they ran or biked first. Most teams elected to do the trail run stage first, which took them onto the Ridgeway and either along fast, flat ground by the Grand Union Canal or up over hilly terrain into the Chiltern Hills. After climbing to the top of one hill, it was a steep drop down the front of the chalk escarpment, through the beautiful tree lined grassy avenues in Tring Park, to visit another checkpoint before ascending back to the Ridgeway via other checkpoints. Teams continued along the front of the Chilterns as far as they wanted to go, admiring the spectacular views out over the Vale of Aylesbury and beyond, before returning over the backs of the Chilterns, characterised by rolling hills and a pleasant mixture of deciduous woods and agricultural land.

Navigation should have been easy as public rights of way were very well signposted throughout the area. But in places there were so many paths and bridleways (and there were more on the ground than there were on the map) that several teams found themselves not where they thought they were. The abundance of public rights of way also meant there was often more than one obvious route of getting from one checkpoint to the next, so it was quite difficult to decide which the quicker route to take was.

The kayaking stage took place on a lovely stretch of the Grand Union Canal, along which Sleepmonsters photographer Rob Howard spent most of the day taking photos of participants as they passed by. These photos can be viewed and purchased online here.

A long wooden landing stage at the Kayak Transition made it easy for teams to get on and off the water, even those that hadn’t kayaked before. And Quest marshals were standing by ready to assist those that needed an extra helping hand. Each team was allocated a generous 50 mins on the water, making it possible for competent paddlers to easily visit all the kayaking checkpoints within their time limit. For other teams it was a question of whether to head north or south first and how far along the canal to go? With a 50 point penalty for being late off the water, most teams aired on the side of caution and ensured they were back at the kayak transition well before the end of their kayak timeslot.

Back at the event base, teams quickly refuelled and topped up their water containers with energy drink kindly provided by Infinit Nutrition, before heading out on their bikes. The checkpoints for the mountain bike stage were dispersed over a wide area of the Chilterns. There was no obvious order as to which several of the checkpoints should be visited. This resulted in teams visiting the checkpoints in slightly different orders and hence taking different routes. And for those wanting to visit all the mountain biking check points their was no avoiding the fact that they would have to go up and down the steep chalk escarpment, which marks the front of the Chiltern Hills, at least three times. 

The tree lined minor roads provided welcome shade from the strong summer sun as the clouds cleared and competitors made their way back to the big yellow arch that marked the finish line. Novice teams had a maximum of five hours to visit as many checkpoints as possible while Masters had six. Most made it back comfortably with time to spare, but a few teams cut it a bit fine resulting in a dash for the line in order to avoid or minimise their penalty for being late back.

As the results were compiled, teams made use of the generous changing and shower facilities. Many also took the opportunity to get some hot food from the Quest Kitchen where there was a delicious chicken curry available along with other refreshments. Others sat outside on the grass in the warm afternoon sun, resting and reflecting on their days achievements. A physio was also on hand to give a post-race massage to those that wanted one.  

The clubhouse was filled once again for the prize giving, where the winners of each category received a Kathmandu prize voucher. Overall top honours on the day went to Masters Veteran Patrick Meldrum who managed to visit all but one of the checkpoints, to amass a very impressive score of 970 points - just shy of the maximum 1000 points available. This suggests adventure racers really do get better with age so there is still plenty of hope (and time) for all those younger competitors out there!

The result reaffirms Patrick’s position at the top of the 2010 Questars Adventure Race Series leader board. With just one race left in the series, will anyone be able to catch him? The fourth and final race in the series takes place in Cannock Chase on the 11 September 2010. It’s a wonderful mix of both deciduous and coniferous woodlands, open heathlands, parklands and there are many varied trails for both bikers and runners alike. It promises to be a great finale to the 2010 Questars Series so make sure you don’t miss it, find out more details here


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