The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

 

2014 Questars Adventure Race Series - Race 2

Race Results

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

A complete set of stage results for this two day adventure race are attached to the top of this page along with the cumulative scores and positions after each stage.

See the updated 2014 leaderboard for the series standings at the end of this adventure race.

Race Photos

Photos taken by Quest during this two-day adventure race have been added to the Questars gallery.

Look at the photos in the 2014 Thetford Forest adventure race album to see what adventure racers got up to during each stage.

Race Report

The largest lowland pine forest in Britain - Thetford Forest - was the setting for the second event in the 2014 Questars adventure race series. Straddling the north Suffolk and south Norfolk border, the forest may not have any big hills but the vast network of forest paths and tracks provided plenty of off road running and riding, and lots of different route options (and hence decisions to be made). And the sandy soil meant the relatively flat ground remained firm and well drained even after the heavy rain of the previous day.

This two-day multi-stage adventure race was based from an event field located in the heart of the forest on the bank of the Little Ouse River. Situated some two kilometres from the nearest tarmac road, down what seemed like a never-ending anomalously wide sandy red dirt road (that would have looked more at home in Africa / the outback, than in this country), it offered unrivalled and immediate access to both the river for the kayaking and to the many forest trails for the mountain biking and trail running.

The sky was laden with thick cloud on Saturday morning as participants registered and collected their team packs. Spots of rain were soon felt but it wasn’t until just before 9am that the first proper bout of rain came, which was quite timely really as it brought everyone inside the large marquee to seek shelter, just in time for the start of the race briefing. By the time the Race Director had been through all the stages in detail, and explained everything that participants needed to know, the rain had eased off – for the time being anyway.

STAGE 1 & 2

The event was designed to be as flexible as possible to cater for everyone’s personal preferences and this was certainly the case for stage 1 & 2 which were combined into one big stage. The only restrictions were the maximum time limit participants had, when they could kayak and the fact that they had to take a minimum 60 minute break at some point before they finished the stage. Masters had up to a total of seven hours, and Novices an hour less, in which to visit checkpoints and serve their mandatory break.

For most participants there were more checkpoints available than they would have time to visit so they could be selective in what they did and spend more time on what they enjoyed doing the most. But for the top teams it was a case of seeing if they could visit all the checkpoints and clear the course without being late back.

The Masters teams were first on the water to kayak and most headed down river initially as all but one of the kayak checkpoints were in this direction. Those not used to paddling were in for bit of a shock when they turned around to come back up river as with the flow against them, it was only then they realised how easy it had been paddling the other way. The 3.5 km up river section took the top teams some 10 minutes longer to paddle than it took them to cover the same distance going down river. Despite this it was nice to see a lot of the teams take full advantage of the long kayak slots, which saw all but ten of the Masters teams visit all the kayak checkpoints (200 points). Daniel & Helen Murphy were the quickest to do so clocking a time of 1:01:37 for the 7 km round trip, which was a nice surprise for them as Daniel was carrying an upper-body injury that he incurred during training. By the time the Masters were coming off the water the last of the showers had passed overhead and the weather began to brighten up a bit.

With the stage that followed involving mainly running, most participants elected to run before they biked to give their running legs more time to recover between the two. Initially the trail run checkpoints appeared to be spread so far and wide that it looked like it would require a monumental effort to visit them all. However as soon as the dummy checkpoints were crossed off the map and taken out of the equation, visit all the trail run checkpoints began to look a bit more achievable. In then end four teams ran over 25 km to do this - and score the full 375 points available for the trail run - the fastest being Edward Clifford whose time of 2:07:30 was some 7 minutes quicker than his closest rival Kris Smith.

The trail run made good use of different parts of the forest and took participants around a patchwork of pines, heathland and broadleaves; home to a rich variety of animal and plant life. One checkpoint hanging from an elevated walkway under the railway line near St Helen’s spring left participants wondering what the best way to reach it was. Most people climbed up onto the walkway, moved along it whilst crouched down (low roof) before getting down onto their hands and knees to reach the checkpoint. However a few did take the direct approach and walked through the water from the natural spring to reach up to the checkpoint from below.

Rather unusually for an adventure race of this length, the mountain biking was looking like it was going to be all off road so the course planner decided to throw in a couple of road sections just to give a little variety and break it up a bit. They also offered a welcome respite from the energy-sapping sandy trails but these turned out to be less so as the sand was wet from the earlier rain which made the going easier. The tarmac sections did however offer a nice break from the uneven tracks whose bumpiness and tree roots made it a challenge to maintain momentum in places, the most notable of which was a particularly challenging bridleway that ran along the north side of the river for over 4 km and seemed like it would never end.

Six teams covered the minimum 42 km required to visit all the mountain bike checkpoints (425 points) but it was Kris Smith who did so quickest. His very fast time of 2:16:35 was over 18 minutes quicker than his nearest rival. Having visited all the checkpoints for all three disciplines within the time limit Kris earned a bonus point for each unused minute to finish top at the end of the first stage with a score of 1016 points. Edward Clifford was the only other person to clear the stage but he took ten more minutes to do so and hence finished a close second on 1006 points.

STAGE 3

Some three hours later at dusk, everyone reconvened under the big yellow arch for the start of stage 3. Maps were handed out as teams started so the clock was ticking whilst they worked out what the best plan of attack for them would be. Novices had to kayak first if they wanted to visit any of the kayak checkpoints. There was still a bit of light left in the sky as they got on the water but this soon disappeared and it was dark by the time they got off the water some 15-20 minutes later having paddled 1.2 km to visit both the kayak checkpoints. Meanwhile Masters set off in all directions in search of the trail run checkpoints as they could only kayak after they had visited all the trail run checkpoints that they wanted to. An activity point gave participants the option to give their legs a break whilst they attempted to earn bonus points by correctly solving a numbers puzzle.

With four different sets of run checkpoints and bonus points for visiting all the checkpoints in each set, there were plenty of decisions to make. Set C was the closest and highest value, and was therefore the obvious choice for all especially as you could easily walk to all the checkpoints in this set, in the time available. Kris Smith didn’t have to decide which of the other sets he would visit. He visited them all and ran over 15 km in the process, returning to the finish with what he thought was plenty of time to spare, only to remember he had forgotten about the kayaking. After hurriedly visiting both the kayak checkpoints, Kris finished with just 37 seconds to spare and to top score with 300 points. No one else managed to clear the stage. Edward Clifford finished second but he dropped one of the kayak checkpoints and regretted going for the other as the points gained were wiped out by his penalty for finishing late which left him with a score of 250 points. And so by the end of stage 3 Kris Smith was top scorer with a combined score of 1316 points which saw his lead over second placed Edward Clifford increase to 60 points. A special mention also goes to Novices Phil & Jonny Courtman who recorded a time of 12:22 to clear the kayaking, beating everyone else – including all the Masters teams!

STAGE 4

Sunday brought with it sunnier skies for stage 4 – the final stage. The air temperature remained cool which was welcomed once participants got going but it did mean it was a little on the cold side waiting on the start line. Masters had up to four and a half hours whilst Novices had an hour less. The stage majored on mountain biking and kayaking but there was also a short trail run of approximately 8 km if, like most people did, you ignored the low-value far-flung trail run checkpoint that added another 5 km onto this.

The kayaking was on a different section of the river, with participants having to paddle up stream first this time. A round trip of over 9 km was required to visit all the kayak checkpoints. The time participants had available to do this was generous and so should have been achievable by most. But it’s never that easy. Paddling the 4.5 km against the flow was hard in itself which required grit and determination. And this was made more difficult by the fact the fine weather over recent weeks had caused the grasses and reeds growing in the river to bloom. The vegetation clogged up the river in a few places where it lay as a thick blanket on the surface, impeding teams’ progress. Nevertheless a good number of teams battled on to reach the end and visit all the kayak checkpoints (210 points) including four Novice teams. Zoe Barker & Andy Hodder-Smith were the quickest to do so in 1:24:10.

The ground had dried out from the previous day making the mountain biking a bit more hard work in the places where the trails were particularly sandy. Not only did the soft sand increase resistance, it also made it difficult to gain traction and had the potential to throw you off balance and into a slide, especially if you were caught unaware. This didn’t stop eight teams from visiting all the mountain bike checkpoints and covering in excess of 32 km in the process. Kris Smith and Edward Clifford were two of these teams. They both collected the same number of points but Kris Smith did so six and a half minutes quicker than Edward and so with bonus points for whole minutes not used, Kris won the final stage with 714 points – just six points more than Edward.

And so there was to be no surprise at the prize giving when Kris Smith (Team EnduranceLife), who had come first in all three stages, was announced as the overall race winner with a combined score of 2030 points. Edward Clifford’s (Tri-Adventure) total of 1964 points saw him end up a comfortable second whilst 1838 points was enough for Kevin Stephens to secure the top Veteran spot and third place overall. The mixed class was won with 1797 points by Carol & Andy Yarrow, whilst Sophie Moore (Tri-Adventure) finished top of the ladies class with a cumulative score of 1635 points – two very impressive results indeed as both scored significantly more points than their nearest rivals.

In the Novice category, Simon Granger finished top with a final score of 1452 points whilst Paul Caufield and Martin Mennie came second and third with 1408 and 1361 points respectively. The ladies class was won by Octavia Chambers and Ann Mills who, with a total of 1209 points, pulled out a big gap between themselves and the other ladies teams. A big thank you to everyone that supported this adventure race, particularly those that took part (and were on the go for over 12 hours in some cases), and also to Likeys, MuleBar, MapDec & Muc-Off for providing the winner's prizes.

The next race in the 2014 Questars Adventure Race Series takes place on the 24 May in the Brecon Beacons. 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 sells out!

 

More Race Reports

Design by eightyone | Programming by Switch Systems