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Race report: Questars - Brecon Beacons, September 1, 2012

by Editor
Friday 7th September 2012

The Brecon Beacons were looking their best in the late summer sunshine and the mountains themselves formed a stunning back drop to the course as hundreds of adventure racers made their way to this lovely part of South Wales on Saturday for the fifth race in the 2012 Questars adventure race series.

Questars - Brecon Beacons, September 1, 2012

Starting and finishing in the town of Brecon itself, participants began on bikes and either headed east along the Usk valley or south onto the lower slopes of the hills around Brecon. Those that headed east were treated to a long flat section of riding along the Monmouth and Brecon canal whilst those that headed south had inclines to contend with as they weaved their way up and down across the foothills of the Brecon Beacons. Whichever way participants chose, they would return by the other route so it was a case of whether to attack the hills first and save the flat for later or start on the flat and return over the hills at the end. Those that decided to return over the hills enjoyed the rocky descent off the last hill back down into Brecon town.

A fair amount of the mountain biking was on minor roads and off road cycle routes as the warm wet summer meant several of the bridleways were unfortunately just too overgrown to use. However, there were still some short technical sections, which were rocky in places and wet and muddy in others, to keep participants on their toes – literally in some places! The mountain biking course was a bit shorter than for previous races this year due to the more hilly nature of the course and several of the top teams visited all the mountain bike checkpoints.

The transition point was located at Cambrian Cruisers marina and this was where participants began and finished both their kayaking and their trail run. With the three kayak checkpoints to the north of the transition point mirroring - both in terms of spacing and points value - the three kayak checkpoints to the south of the transition point, there was nothing to choose between them in terms of which was the best direction to head first. A few teams managed to visit all six kayak checkpoints within their allocated 55 minute timeslot, but many of the top teams decided to play it safe and not risk incurring a penalty by visiting all but one of the kayak checkpoints.

Questars - Brecon Beacons, September 1, 2012

Again there were two quite contrasting sides to the trail run. There was the nice easy-going flat section along by the side of the canal which was in stark contrast to the much tougher part - both physically and in terms of route finding - set on the flanks of the Brecon Beacons.

As always there was plenty for everyone to think about in terms of which trail run checkpoints to visit and which order to visit them in. One decision the top teams had to make was whether to take the direct route over the top of a hill between high scoring checkpoints 17 and 18 (which were located in the bottom of adjacent valleys) or to contour around and pick up checkpoint 14 on the way. The direct route involved over 150 metres of ascent and descent across rough vegetated terrain whilst contouring around added several kilometres to the distance but did have the advantage of picking up another checkpoint on the way.

Participants were free to decide how long they spent on the trail run. For some, visiting just one or two of the closest checkpoints was enough whilst others pushed themselves to see if they could visit them all. Several people came close to clearing the run but in the end it proved just beyond the reach of the top runners and they all ended up dropping at least one of the run checkpoints.

With time running out, participants made their way back to the event base on bikes to finish. Food and drink was available and people sat outside on the grass in the nice sunny weather to consume this whilst recovering from their earlier exertions. Many people also took advantage of the facilities to have a shower and get changed before the prize giving.

Prize vouchers to redeem against adventure racing clothing and equipment at Likeys were awarded to the winners in each class. The overall race winner was master’s male solo Matt Morris (MightContainNuts.com) who visited all but two checkpoints to score an impressive 920 out of a possible 1000 points. Kevin Stephens won the veterans class with 860 points – quite an achievement given it was just one week since Kevin had completed a non-stop five day expedition adventure race around Scotland. The mixed team’s class was won by the CamRacers team of Sabrina Verjee & Ben Turner who scored 790 points whilst Adam Bettiss & Adrian Braun collected 720 points to win the Men’s teams class. Gears and Tears Girls Sarah Preston & Julie Jefferies were one of the teams who cleared the bike course and in doing so they finished with 640 points to win the ladies class.

Sid Hardy was another who visited all the mountain bike checkpoints on his way to collecting a total of 625 points. This score was good enough to see Sid win the Duo race which is an hour shorter as it does not include any kayaking.

Novice race participants do all three disciplines (run, bike and kayak), but they have an hour less than the Masters. The novice race was a closely fought affair with the top three teams separated by just one point. The winner, Neil Marshman, actually collected fewer points than his closest rivals but as they picked up time penalties for going over the five hour time limit it was Neil who finished on top with 635 points. Ross Goodman and Grainne Mohan came first in the novice mixed class with 610 points. The novice veterans class was won by Shaun Wilde with 560 points whilst Dafni, Kate & Sharon were both surprised and amazed that their score of 399 points was sufficient to win the novice ladies class. It just goes to show you really do have to be in it to win it!

Questars - Brecon Beacons, September 1, 2012

The final race in the 2012 Questars Adventure Race Series takes place on the 6 & 7 October in the South Downs and is suitable for both novice and experienced teams of 1, 2, 3 or 4 people. There are only a limited number of kayak places available for this two-day adventure race so if you want to take part and haven't got your entry in yet, best to enter online soon.

For further details please see www.questars.co.uk


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