The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

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Q2 - The Quest Challenge


The 2011 Questars Adventure Race Series - Event 6


A complete set of the race results are attached to the top of this page where you can download and view the results for each of the 4 stages as well as the cumulative scores and positions.

The 2011 Questars Adventure Race Series Leaderboard has been updated with the scores from this race. The final series scores and positions can be found on the 2011 Leaderboard which is attached to the Series Leaderboard page.


The Quest Team took over 250 race photos during this Q2 The Quest Challenge weekend. These have been split up according to during which stage they were taken and put in separate folders in the Questars website gallery.

If you took part in this two-day adventure race, do take a look at these images to see if you were captured in action.

Race Report:

Adventurer racers from all over the country descended on Thetford Forest at the weekend for the final event in the 2011 Questars Adventure Race Series. This two-day race called Q2 The Quest Challenge attracted everyone from seasoned competitors, who had done all five previous races in the 2011 Questars Series, to complete beginners for whom this was their first adventure race.

You can’t always rely on the British weather but you can rely on the weather to do one thing and that is to add to the challenge of an adventure race; and this race was no exception. The weather forecasters had been predicting a mini heat wave all week and they weren’t wrong. Temperatures reached the high twenties (80+ degrees Fahrenheit) on both Saturday and Sunday making the challenge tough for some. Unseasonal it may have been for October but unexpected it wasn’t, and participants had been forewarned so there was no excuse for not being prepared.

Many participants made the most of the fine weather by arriving on Friday evening and camping in the large event field throughout the weekend. Others took advantage of the ‘leisurely’ start time on Saturday morning to arrive then in time for the Event Briefing, some preferring to find their own alternative accommodation locally.

Strategy is key in Q2 The Quest Challenge adventure races and this was emphasised at the Event Briefing. Participants were warned about various trade-offs they would have to make throughout each of the four stages, and in particular whether to attempt the optional challenges or not. Complete a challenge quickly and ‘easy’ points could be earned, but spend too long doing it (and this is easily done if you don’t keep an eye on the time) and you could jeopardise your result, not just for that stage but for the whole race.

The event field was ideally situated in the centre of the forest giving instant access in all directions to the patchwork of pine trees, heathland and broadleaf woodland that together makes up the area known as Thetford Forest. Being so remote, it was not possible to show the England - Scotland match, but this didn’t mean events in New Zealand were forgotten, for the event was themed around the Rugby World Cup. In the first stage participants had 200 minutes to visit as many rugby players as possible both on foot and by kayak. Players were grouped into sets according to their rugby position and bonus points were available for those who managed to visit all the players in the same set. Many found running in the heat hard work but at least the forest did offer some shade.

The results for stage 1 were very close with not that much difference in scores between the Masters and the Novice categories. But the Novices did have the more favourable kayak slots; Novices kayaked either at the start or the end of their stage meaning they could do all their running in one go while Masters had to split their running in half and kayak in the middle of their stage. The Tri-Adventure team collected more points than any other team but they picked up a penalty for being late off the water which meant they dropped to second place in the Masters category, 15 points behind stage winner Kevin Stephens who amassed 390 points. In the Novice category, Malcolm Young collected the second highest amount of points of anyone but he too picked up a kayaking penalty which put him in second place behind Rebels 1 who finished with 365 points.

The two hours for rest and recovery before the start of stage 2 quickly disappeared as participants prepared themselves for the next stage. For some this began with cooling off in the beautiful Little Ouse River which flowed peacefully alongside the event field. Others headed straight for the Hog God’s Catering tent, whose team were onsite throughout the weekend to help participant’s replenish their energy and fluid levels after each stage. Mountain bikes were set up and tinkered with, and the Stage Notes were read and read again to make sure all the pre-stage information had been fully digested.

The second stage was a 150 minute mountain biking stage with the option of completing a long or short orienteering challenge on foot. Accurate navigation was crucial for both elements. Thetford may be fairly flat but this only added to the difficulty of identifying where you were as it can all look much the same in the forest. You cover the ground much quicker by bike and there are many tracks - more than are marked on the map - so if you’re not careful it’s easy to think you are somewhere where you’re not. This caught out several teams, including a few of the top teams which cost them dear. But there were no such problems for Kevin Stephens who won the stage with 350 points to extend his overall lead in the Masters category to 100 points over his nearest rivals: Mixed team, Competitive Coasters.

The heat of the day quickly seeped away as the sun dropped below the trees and the light began to fade. By the time stage 3, a night trail run, began at 20:30 hours there was a notable chill in the air and the stars were out in force. Once again the checkpoints were grouped into sets, this time according to various scrum positions, and bonus points were available for each complete set visited. In an extra twist, time not used after 60 minutes earned extra points. So in one of those classic trade-off’s, teams had to decide whether to finish early and take these time bonus points or stay out a bit longer and try to collect more points by visiting more checkpoints.

It was a beautiful night and this was epitomised by one team who, after getting slightly lost, finished over an hour late, still with smiles on their faces having enjoyed the challenge and experience. Novice Malcolm Young managed to collect more points than anyone else, including all the Masters competitors, but in doing so went slightly over the 75 minute time limit and hence finished second overall in this stage, seven points behind the Tri Adventure team who scored 179 points. With just one stage to go Team Tri Adventure had moved up to second place overall and reduced the gap between themselves and race leader; Kevin Stephens, to 90 points.

Clear skies greeted participants again on Sunday morning, and the sun didn’t take long to burn off the dew and the few wisps of low cloud that had formed over the calm river. It was still fairly fresh and pleasant when the Masters started the fourth stage at 08:40 hours but by the time the Novices set off an hour later it was already getting quite warm and it was clear that it was going to be another warm one. This final stage was the culmination to the whole weekend and as such involved everything, in some new previously unvisited areas of the forest where possible. The kayaking was on a different stretch of the Little Ouse River to that used for stage 1 heading west from the transition rather than east, while the trail run stayed south of the river and the mountain biking extended north of the river.

Participants decided whether to run or bike first and how long to spend doing each, so everyone could create their own race plan to best suit them. Each team was allocated a window within which they had a maximum of 60 minutes to visit as many kayak checkpoints as possible. Participants didn’t need to kayak for this full length of time but many took advantage of this opportunity to cool down on the river while also giving their legs a break from running and cycling. And there was also an optional cerebral challenge to cap it all off. Some teams enjoyed the respite the challenge provided but others lost track of time and, rather frustratingly for them, spent too long trying to complete it.

Participants had been asked to be courteous and to give way to the many other forest users especially horse riders while running and cycling. However, this did not fully prepare some participants for what they encountered early on Sunday. In what was surely one of the more unusual and perhaps surreal adventure racing moments, people kayaking down river had to give way to horse riders coming upstream – something not heard of before in a Questars race!

The Tri-Adventure team won the final stage with 695 points but it was not enough to take the overall lead away from Kevin Stephens who finished 25 points ahead with a total score of 1534 points for the whole race. Both the Ladies and the Mixed classes in the Masters category were closely contested with the teams at the top changing positions several times throughout the weekend. In the end Nicki Adams finished first in the Ladies class while top honours in the Mixed class went to Competitive Coasters.

At the prize giving everyone congratulated each other on completing their own personal challenge before prize vouchers, to spend with adventure racing retailer Likeys, were awarded to the participants of the top teams in each class. Series prizes from partners Timex, Silva and Likeys were also handed out to those individuals at the top of the 2011 Questars Series Leaderboard. Hobnobs team mates Rob Smart and Darren Ryden improved their series scores with their result in this race to secure joint third place, each with a total of 4385 points. And a good result in Thetford gave Matt Unsworth, racing as, a series score of 4615 points which catapulted him up into second place overall. But there were no such surprises at the top. Before this race Tom Davies from team Tri Adventure had won sufficient races to amass the maximum possible series score of 5000 points and in doing so create an unassailable Series lead. Tom was therefore duly awarded the Questars Series trophy and crowned the 2011 Questars Series Champion to a much deserved round of applause from his fellow competitors.

The 2012 Questars Adventure Race Series will consist of 6 events; 4 one day Questars and two Q2 The Quest Challenge weekend events. The details of the 2012 events will be published on the Questars website towards the end of October. Do keep a eye on the Questars noticeboard for further details. 


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