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Q2 - The Quest Challenge
Race 2 of the 2012 Questars Adventure Race Series
A complete set of results for this adventure race are attached to the top of this page where you can download and view all the individual stage results as well as the cumulative scores and positions after each of the competitive stages.
Due to the hazards caused by exceptionally wet weather together with strong winds only the scores from the first three stages count towards the overall results for this adventure race. The fourth and final stage was held, allbeit with a few amendments, as a stand alone non-competitive stage for those participants who wanted to challenge themselves in the testing conditions.
Photos of participants taking part in this two-day adventure race are now up in the Questars website gallery together with images from Sunday of some of the flooding, landslips and fallen trees encountered around the course.
Do take a look at these photos to see what participants got up to and what the conditions were like!
The second race of the 2012 Questars adventure race series took place in Exmoor on the weekend of the 28 & 29 April. Exceptionally wet weather together with strong winds meant this two-day adventure race called Q2 The Quest Challenge was a bit more challenging than normal, both for those taking part and for The Quest Team organising it. Three inches of rain fell over the weekend (that’s more than the average for the whole month) resulting in flooding, landslips, trees falling down, roads being closed and pheasants dying.
Participants were warned to bring ‘adequate and appropriate wet weather clothing’ as rain had been forecast for late on Saturday overnight into Sunday. However things didn’t get off to a good start when on Friday afternoon a heavy shower turned into a longer period of intense rain causing water to run off over the surface of the event field just before the first participants arrived.
The rain did stop for a while enabling the early arrivals, who were camping, to pitch their tents in the dry, but the ground was already saturated with water and squelchy underfoot in places. Those who arrived later weren’t so lucky as another period of heavy rain set in. They erected their tents in the shelter of the marquee before carrying them outside to pitch them.
Come Saturday morning the rain had stopped. There was no wind and the cloud had dropped, covering the high ground in a thick blanket of fog. After a thorough event briefing, participants got themselves ready to start the first stage.
Stage 1 for Novice participants consisted of a two hour mountain bike stage from Combe Sydenham in the morning. The number of tracks in the forest made navigation quite tricky but this didn’t stop Ben Ball from visiting all but three of the furthest checkpoints to come first in this Novice stage with 345 points.
The Novices then drove over to Wimbleball Lake for Stage 2 that afternoon where they had three hours to visit as many checkpoints on foot and by kayak as possible. Running first, Phil Carrivick and Tom Powell Tuck visited the checkpoints around the lake and on Haddon Hill before paddling to all the kayak checkpoints apart from the two furthest ones at either end of the lake, clocking up an impressive stage winning score of 680 points.
Stage 1 and 2 were combined into one big, long, seven and a half hour stage for Masters participants. They began on bikes, cycling through the fog over to Wimbleball Lake, visiting Mt Bike checkpoints on the way before transitioning to do the kayaking and running. Once Masters participants had finished visiting run and kayak checkpoints they returned to transition to pick up their bikes and cycle back to Combe Sydenham, visiting different Mt Bike checkpoints on the way back.
Tom Davies racing for Team Tri-Adventure cleared both the running and the kayaking, and visited all but two of the mountain bike checkpoints to win the Masters stage with 1062 points, 52 points clear of Ian Grace from Team Endurancelife in second place.
The wind picked up and continued to strengthen throughout the day, which made it bitterly cold. Both Masters and Novices made good use of the facilities in the club house at Wimbleball Sailing Club, which were a relative luxury, in order to keep warm and shelter from the elements while transitioning between different disciplines. The winds made for some tricky paddling conditions on the lake especially towards the end of the afternoon. By the time the safety boat crews came off the water, the waves were lapping over the sides of several of the sailing dinghies on the lake shore so The Quest Team helped drag them up the slipway in lieu of the approaching storm.
Back at Combe Sydenham participants had a couple of hours to rest and recover before the start of the next stage. Stage 3 was a ninety minute night navigation stage which saw both Masters and Novices compete alongside each other to visit as many checkpoints as possible on foot. But with several bonuses available, including for visiting all the checkpoints in a set, completing an optional activity and finishing early there was lots to think about in terms of what strategy to adopt.
The top two teams adopted quite different strategies. Tom Davies stayed out for 73 minutes and visited all but one of the checkpoints to win the stage with 176 points. But by electing to finish much earlier and take advantage of the time bonuses, Emily Benham and Hans Jørgen Kvåle came a close second scoring 170 points in just 47 minutes. Going around the forest in the dark was a new experience for some and quite an eerie one too, what with the trees creaking and groaning in the wind.
Those camping didn’t get much sleep as the wind howled and the rain set in. Heavy rain continued to fall all night and the strong winds didn’t ease either so the Quest Team were up at first light to brave the elements and check on the course, to confirm conditions. Streams and rivers had risen over their banks causing flooding. Bridges were struggling to cope with the volume of water being forced under them and had started to act as dams with the water and flood debris backing up behind them. Some routes were partially blocked by fallen trees and landslips. With water levels still rising and no end to the high winds and lashing rain in sight, the course conditions were likely to get worse before they got better. With all of that in mind, and a primary concern of not wanting participants to take unnecessary risks, the decision was taken to run the fourth and final stage not as part of the race, but as a standalone non-competitive stage for those that wanted to test themselves in the challenging conditions.
A race briefing was held in the relative shelter of the marquee at 9:30am where participants were informed of the hazards and the decision given these that Stage 4 would go ahead but would not count towards the overall race results. All the checkpoints remained available for visiting but because of the weather the stage was amended slightly and shortened to three hours.
A third of teams decided not to go out and of the two-thirds that did, only a handful stayed out for the full three hours. Sadly the weather had taken its toll on the local pheasant population with many succumbing to the elements, their bodies lying on the ground wherever they came to rest. As teams returned to transition, tracks which had been clear at the start of the stage, were in places under a couple of inches of floodwater and partially blocked by uprooted trees. These things, coupled with being cold and wet, meant most people called it a day and finished early rather than going back out.
The prize giving took place in the marquee soon after everyone was back, where prize vouchers to spend at online outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Likeys were awarded. The ground inside the marquee had been turned into a mud bath (of Glastonbury proportions) but this did not deter people from attending as there was a spot prize up for grabs. Alex Colley was the lucky person on this occasion.
With the scores from the first three stages counting towards the final results, it was no surprise that the winner of these stages, Tom Davies, racing for Team Tri-Adventure, was the overall race winner amassing 1238 points in total. Emily Benham and Hans Jørgen Kvåle came first in the mixed class with 1101 points while the ladies class was won by Maria Leijerstam with 931 points. Winning the Novice race was Neil Boddington, Paul Broadberry, Chris Hargreaves and Jamie Clayton who raced together as Team Badger.
The next race in the 2012 Questars Adventure Race Series takes place on the 26 May in Dorset and is suitable for both novice and experienced teams of 1, 2, 3 or 4 people. The number of kayak places left for this one-day adventure race are limited so if you want to take part but haven't got your entry in yet, you need to enter online soon.
More Race Reports