The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

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2013 Questars Adventure Race Series - Race 2

 

Q2 - The Quest Challenge

Race Results

Download the final results for this two-day adventure race here.

A complete set of results for each stage in this Q2 The Quest Challenge adventure race are attached to the top of this page along with the cumulative scores and positions after each stage.

The 2013 series leaderboard has been updated with the results from this adventure race - download a copy here.

Race Photos

Photos taken of participants during this two-day adventure race have been added to the Questars gallery. Do look through the various folders in the 2013 Thames Valley adventure race album to see what other adventure racers got up to during each of the four stages.

Race Report

The Thames Valley in Oxfordshire is not perhaps somewhere that would immediately spring to mind as a location for a two-day adventure race but the second race in the 2013 Questars Adventure Race Series showed that the area was more than up to the job. This was the first time a Questars adventure race had been held in the county and the first time the River Thames had been used for kayaking as part of a Questars event so all participants could look forward to exploring somewhere new and seeing for themselves exactly what the area has to offer. It was no less of a challenge either, for what this multi-stage event lacked in terms of big hills it more than made up for in distance. And as always, there were still plenty of strategic decisions and trade-offs to make en route.

Stage 1 and Stage 2 were combined into a single stage on Saturday during which Masters participants had to take one compulsory 60 minute break and Novices had to take two. These compulsory breaks could be taken at any time during the 7 hour stage. Many people took their break(s) in the middle of the combined stage between the trail run and the mountain biking, effectively splitting the 7 hour stage into two shorter stages. But a few treated it as one big long stage and hence took their break(s) either immediately after starting, to give themselves more time to plan and prepare, or just before they finished, to give themselves more rest and recovery time before the next stage.

Most participants began with the trail run but a few, for whom running wasn’t their forte, decided to tackle the big mountain bike course first and then spend whatever time was left afterwards on the trail run. The mountain biking was on both sides of the River Thames but with only two crossing points, situated some 10 km apart, it was a fairly committing loop as there was no short cut back if you underestimated how long it would take you.

Participants could only kayak during their allocated slot so they had to keep an eye on the time and plan their run/bike routes accordingly if they wanted to go on the water. It was an out-and-back kayak course with four kayak checkpoints upstream from the kayak transition and one downstream. Many paddled upstream first looking forward to an easier paddle on the way back only to find that the wind was against them when they turned around. Although going against the wind may have felt like equally hard work, the split times show it was still significantly quicker than paddling against the flow of the river. A number of people visited all five kayak checkpoints and in doing so paddled 5.6 km. Most of them were Masters but the fastest to do so was actually the Novice mixed team of Helen & Daniel Murphy in a time of 48:40 – the only team to clear the kayaking course in under 50 minutes!

Those who ran to the kayak transition had a choice when they finished kayaking: they could get off the water on the west side of the river and continue their run along the Thames Path to the furthest checkpoint before crossing over the river and running back to the event base; or they could egress on the eastern river bank (the same side as they got on) and take a much more direct route back to the event base, visiting other trail run checkpoints along the way. And for those that wanted a break from the physical side of things, there was also the option of earning bonus points by completing a couple of puzzles at an activity point on route.

A handful of people visited all the trail run checkpoints covering at least 25 km on foot in the process whilst a few others collected all the mountain bike points available and in doing so cycled more than 57 km. And although the top teams came close, no one managed to do both. There were a total of 1000 points available for this combined stage but with bonus points for unused minutes Tom Davies managed amass more than this to win Stage 1 & 2 with a score of 1012 points - just 18 more than Iain Porter in second place who was only 8 points ahead of third placed Kris Smith. So it was pretty close at the top going into Stage 3. But before that everyone enjoyed a break of several hours during which hot food and drinks were available from the onsite event caterers and a sports therapist was on hand to massage those tired limbs.

Everyone started Stage 3 together as dusk fell. The maps for this stage were only given out at the start so participants had to quickly study these and decide on the best route plan for them. There were a maximum of two hours available in which to visit as many checkpoints as possible, but this time the checkpoints were grouped together in sets and there were bonus points available for visiting all the checkpoints in a set as well as for any time not used after one hour.

Those still feeling the effects of the previous stage and those wishing to save themselves for the final stage on Sunday just walked to the closest checkpoint, visited the neighbouring activity point and solved the puzzle before returning to the finish within the hour to make the most of the bonus points available for doing so. Meanwhile the race was on amongst the top Masters teams to see who could visit all the checkpoints and get back in the quickest time possible. Kris Smith & David Hellard were the only two who managed to do this in under 1:30, scoring 352 and 351 points respectively, whilst Tom Davies finished just over 5 minutes behind them to earn 345 points. This meant that at the end of Stage 3 Tom had increased his overall lead by just 1 point over his nearest rival who was now Kris Smith, with Iain Porter slipping back to third. A special mention must also go to the top ladies team of Vanessa Harding & Rebecca Green and the top mixed team of Matt Unsworth & Katie Roby, both of whom cleared the course – Matt & Katie doing so with just 1 second to spare in a time of 1:59:59!

And so the top scorers still had everything to play for in the fourth and final stage on Sunday morning. After starting this four hour stage participants collected a stage map and left the event base on bikes. It was perhaps difficult to know where to head first as the mountain bike checkpoints were equally spread out in all directions with no clear order to them. But with all the mountain bike checkpoints worth the same number of points, participants could just concentrate on visiting as many of them as possible rather than worrying about their value. The easternmost checkpoints were located on the fringe of Oxford itself. Navigating along streets, alleyways and underpasses in this confined built-up environment provided quite a different challenge to the open countryside that participants had become accustomed to. Some pleasant cycling alongside the River Thames awaited those that successfully made it through the urban maze, where participants were treated to sights of famous landmarks and picturesque views across the river of the historic city centre.

For many though this final stage will be remembered for a short section of bridleway which led down to the kayak transition. Water trickled down the track from a spring at the top of the slope turning it into one big mud bath. Many had run along it the previous day and should have known what it was like. Some just forgot how muddy it was whilst others presumably thought that despite this, it was still better to battle through the mud rather than take the road the long way round. One team emerged carrying their bikes; the forks so clogged up with mud that their wheels no longer turned. Participants took time in transition to remove some of the mud; methods used ranged from washing bikes off in the river to prodding and flicking it with sticks.

This time the kayak checkpoints were located downstream of the transition point and it was a 7.2 km round trip to visit all six of them. Again the fastest team to do this, and the only one to do so in under an hour, was the Novice mixed team of Helen & Daniel Murphy in a time of 57:46. When teams came off the water they had the option of doing a 7.5 km trail run up the Thames Path on one side of the river to the nearest lock before crossing over and returning, along the towpath on the other side of the river, to transition to pick up their bikes.

With generous bonus points for finishing early and severe penalties for going over the four hour time limit this was one stage where it was definitely better to come in a bit early rather than be a bit late. Kris Smith was the only person to visit all the checkpoints and hence clear the Stage 4 course, but he ran over and finished 19 minutes late. The 100 point penalty Kris received for this cost him dearly and dashed his hopes of clinching the top spot. That honour went to Tom Davies (Tri-Adventure), who won the final stage to pull away from his nearest rivals with a huge score of 1978 points. Kris Smith (Team Endurancelife) held onto second place overall finishing on 1888 points whilst a solid performance in the final stage from fellow Team Endurancelife adventure racer Kevin Stephens saw him take third spot with 1829 points. Matt Unsworth & Katie Roby (mightcontainnuts.com) amassed 1797 points in total to finish top of the mixed team class whilst the ladies class was won by Vanessa Harding & Rebecca Green (AARC) with a very impressive total of 1748 points - some 400 more than the second placed ladies team!

The Novice category was won by the men’s team of Tom Phillips, Chris Oliveria, Simon Bevis & Lawrence Drew with a total score of 1468 points. Daniel & Helen Murphy collected 1420 points in total – the second highest score of all the Novice teams – and in doing so came first in the Novice mixed class. Whilst Amanda Stretton & Emma Walton won the Novice ladies class with 1257 points having led this class from start to finish. Likeys vouchers and MuleBar energy packs were awarded to the class winners at the prize giving in recognition of their achievement.

Make sure you are part of the action at the next race in the 2013 Questars Adventure Race Series which takes place on the 18 May in the Cotswolds. Like all Questars adventure races, it is suitable for both novice and experienced teams of 1, 2, 3 or 4 people. Enter online now before it’s too late!

 

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