Questars Winter Series Race 4 – Cotswolds

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A Cotswold Finish for the first Questars Winter Series

Rob Howard / 18.02.2024See All Event Posts Follow Event
Questars Adventure Racing on the Cotswold hills
Questars Adventure Racing on the Cotswold hills / © Rob Howard

The first winter Questars Series finished in the Cotswold Hills with the race starting from a base at the attractive Lifford Memorial Hall in Broadway.

The final race of four in the series had ideal weather, taking place on a sunny and warm day (for February), and with the snowdrops out in all the verges and gardens.  It was a very different race to the first, which took place in autumnal colours and fallen leaveson the South Downs, and that too was a glorious sunny day.  The first winter series has been varied, and mostly lucky with the weather!

It’s been well supported too, and when Race Director Joe Selby asked how many racers were new to Questars at the briefing there were a lot of raised hands.  There were a few who were completing all 4 races from the winter series as well, and some of those were looking to improve their positions on the series leaderboard.

Most of the checkpoints were to the South of Broadway, with a cluster in the hills to the North-East.  It was another very hilly course, but that should be no surprise by now as the Race Director has managed to make the most of every hill, surrounding every location, in the series so far.  It was muddy in places too, thanks to the wet winter, but Selby did guide riders to the better bridleways during the race briefing.

Once again, all the checkpoints were on a single 1:25,000 map, and there were 43 in total (22 run and 21 ride) with 3 dummy checkpoints marked on the map.  From the start runners and riders headed out in all directions, and those going East raced along the attractive High Street and along the old coach road up into the hills. 

In true Questars style, the checkpoints were placed to maximise route choice and also for their scenic value.  One was inside a phone box in the village of Buckland and fortunately there were no reports of anyone making a long phone call and being interrupted! 

Three were placed at churches, and one of these was at the gate to the church in Snowshill.  The large church is central to the village, surrounded by cottages on all sides, and was one of many picturesque locations and viewpoints to be discovered on the day.

The most memorable location was at the entrance to the imposing Broadway Tower, which is described as “a quintessentially English country destination on top of the beautiful Cotswolds escarpment” and is said to have views of 16 counties from the top.  It was probably one of those fine and clear days when you could see them all, and the view was a reward for the long climb up to one of the highest points in the Cotswolds.

As the runners and riders returned to base after their 5, 3 or 2 hour races the High Street was much busier with visitors taking advantage of the fine day, and the finish was set up at the front of the hall. This brought some faster riders to a screeching stop to finish the race and the general consensus was that it was another challenging and tough course, with plenty of choice. 

Rob Smart was happy with his tactics, saying, “I thought the bike course was doable and cleared it in 3 and a half hours and think it was the best strategy.”

Eddie Winthorpe managed to say, “It was tough out there,” as he recovered his breath and Team Tristar were all smiles, saying, “That was great fun!  We’re all first timers and loved it.”

Not everyone has a smooth finish to the race, and Julie Banton said, “It was going OK until I got lost in a falconry centre and couldn’t find a way out!” There are always new experiences around the corner on Questars races!

The first prize giving was for the 3 hour ‘Taster’ race and the run and bike only courses (2 hours).  Stuart Morris and Mark Moran won the Taster course with 275 points, Ian Cartwright the Bike Only (315 pts) and Ben Hawkins the Run Only (303 pts).

There was also a Series prize giving and the Taster Series was won by Graeme and Aidan Williams, a father and son team. Graeme is an experienced racer and this was Aidan's first taste of adventure racing. They had a particularly good race in the tough conditions in Berkshire, winning the overall race.

The Run-Only Series was won by Oscar Sly who completed all 4 events and was very consistent through the Series with an incredible performance in Berkshire.The Bike-Only Series was won by Ian Cartwright who won the last three events.

Alex Ward was the Questars adventure racer of the Series. She attended every event and has signed up to her first trio event in the South Downs where she will be jumping from the two-hour event to the six-hour event!  She said, “I think it was in part for my fun value, after I got my car stuck at one event and had to get the tyres changed at another!” A regular orienteer she found Questars events through SI Entries and decided to give them a try.

On the Full course Daniel Thorby got the top score of the day with 720 points and returning 22 minutes early!  Second overall was the ladies winner, Helen Chapman with 665 points.  She said, “The course just seemed to flow for me today, though I still missed a bike CP I could have got when I folded the map!”

The top Open team were the Try Hards (Tom and James Hards) with 605 points, finishing ahead of another pair of brothers, Alex and James Cawthorne.

The mixed team category was the closest of the day with Nick Gracie and Katharina Pedersen winning by 3 points from Emma and Richard Gill.   Team Gill scored more 5 more points but Gracie and Pedersen were back at the finish 8 minutes early and the bonus points won them a second race in the series.  The introduction of bonus points for an early return has been very successful, adding an extra competitive edge and encouraging racing to the finish line.

The Men’s series prize for the Full Course was already decided before the final race as Campbell Walsh’s score couldn’t be beaten.  The Ladies title went to the final race and with her third win in a row Helen Chapman took the title and 5th place on the overall leaderboard. (Richard and Emma Gill were 8th equal on the series leaderboard and unofficial top team.)

The Adventure Racer of the Year was Paul Cantril who was one of only two racers (alongside Daniel Thorby) who completed all eight of the Summer and Winter Series of racer. Paul is an incredibly experienced and consistent racer and a very worthy winner.

In total 420 racers were listed on the final leaderboard for a highly successful first ever Questars Winter Series, which will be back with new locations next year.  The next Questars is the start of the Summer Series in the South Downs on March 23rd.  (Summer starts early there!)

You can see the full programme of 5 races, including one two-day event at

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