Questars Summer Series Race 3 - Peak District Two Day

  • UK (GBR)
  • Off-Road Running
  • Off-Road Cycling
  • Paddling
  • Navigation

Double the Fun as Questars 2 Day Racing Returns in the Peak District

Rob Howard / 14.06.2024See All Event Posts Follow Event
Eddie Winthorpe at the 2 day Questars race in the Peak District
Eddie Winthorpe at the 2 day Questars race in the Peak District / © Rob Howard

For the first time in many years Questars returned with a 2 day format and the setting was in the western Peak District on the outskirts of Manchester.  The area was close to home for Race Directors Joe and Kim Selby so there was plenty of local knowledge behind the course layout and checkpoint placements.

The venue was the Linnet Clough Scout Camp, set on the western slopes of the Dark Peak, not far from Stockport, and it was an ideal base.  The dark wood panelled meeting room was just big enough for the briefings for both the one and two day races, the kitchen pumped out meals throughout the weekend (thanks to a huge effort by Kim and the volunteer team), there was camping space, bunk beds for those wanting them, and just about enough parking space.  There was a surprise challenge hiding in plain sight in the corner of the car park too ... more on that later!

The Saturday race was a standard Questars 5 or 6 hour course depending on the category entered and this could either be a regular one day race, or the first of 3 stages in the 2 day event.  Stage two was a 2 hour trail running rogaine on Saturday evening and those who dragged their aching muscles out of sleeping bags early on Sunday morning still had 4 or 5 hours of Questars racing ahead of them (without any kayaking this time).

There was also the option for racers to take part in the Saturday-only event with run, bike & kayak, run and bike and run-only and bike-only event options available.

The move away from the Southern counties homeland of Questars drew in some more new competitors from the local area, as well as regular racers.  One familiar face on the adventure racing scene to make a Questars return was Tom Gibbs, ITERA course planner multiple times and former World champion racer, who reflected, “I think it’s 20 years since I raced a Questars!”  He added, “Back then it was all 2 day races and you wouldn’t get out of bed for a one day race.”

Now the cycle has turned and two day racing is back again, and new to (almost all) those taking part!

The stage one map was complex, with most of the checkpoints clustered between New Mills and Marple.  The area is a maze of country roads, bridleways, tracks and footpaths, set on steep inclines and the potential for wrong turns was high.  Several of the UK’s most experienced racers admitted they were jointly discussing how to find the right way out of the venue at the start, and quite a few senior racers were glad of the thoughtful offer of a large print (2x size) race map!

Rocky, Muddy and Uppity

The kayaking was on the west of the map on the restored Peak Forest Canal, which was only 2km on foot from the race HQ and runs alongside the River Goyt, but at a higher elevation.  The climb from the river up to the canal must be one of the steepest ascents to a kayaking stage ever in an adventure race!  Who puts a canal on top of a hill? 

On the plus side it was a lovely stretch of water and there were some sweeping views of the area.  It’s also a narrow canal and there were some hold ups with barges and a swing bridge getting in the way for a few teams.

The biking stages spread further into the Peak and the run checkpoints were closely grouped around the start/finish, with one on a picturesque arched bridge over the Goyt and another on a trig point above a nearby quarry, which would feature on all 3 stages.  From here there were spectacular views of the Manchester city skyline.  All of the course was muddy given the wet summer weather and for the first couple of hours of racing on Saturday the weather was damp and drizzly.

By the time the racers returned from their courses the afternoon was a sunny one and the consensus was that the going was slow.   Helen Chapman said she has ridden 18 miles in 2.5 hours and described conditions as “rocky, muddy and uppity!”   Stuart Colvin agreed, “It was surprisingly slow and I guess I’m just not used to moorland.”  Kate Higham bemoaned, “I’m so late and lost all my points, but it was so hilly and I was pushing my bike uphill trying to get to the finish.”  (She lost 85 points, not all of them.)

For those doing the one day race it was the end of their competition.  Team Death Grippers, Paul Goonoo and Edward Ford, were glad to be heading home after a tough day in their first adventure race. “We are cyclists and maybe let ego get in the way and bit off more than we could chew,” said Paul. “In the end we had to drop loads of biking checkpoints to get to the kayaking.”

One team with not far to go were ‘One Dad, Two Sisters’ who were also trying their first race but with some very local knowledge.  “We all live about half a mile away and it certainly helped,” said Neville Jones, “and we had a great time!”  Their children followed them along the towpath during the kayaking, where the novice paddlers were “bouncing off the sides all the way!”

Tom Gibbs was unphased by the course, clearing all the checkpoints to lead after stage one and saying matter-of-factly, “It was a nice bike ride which took 2.5 hours as I expected.”

For those continuing onto stage two there were a few hours to recover and compare routes and race stories in the dining room, or sat outside in the sunshine. 

An Evening Trail Run

With the prize giving for the one day race complete, the trail run began at 7pm with a timed start and leaders leaving at one minute intervals.  There was a twist to this stage for the Masters racers as two of the checkpoints were dummies and two were worth double points, and to find them the racers had to solve five Sudoku on the back of the map!  Some had never done one before and there was some cross-checking and sharing of answers going on! 

This stage had the best of the weekend weather, with the runners enjoying a fine a sunny evening and stunning views from the high points.  Checkpoints were scattered all round the event base again and the large wooden cross set up by the Marple Council of Churches at the quarry site was a dramatic checkpoint location, picked out by the low evening sunlight.

After a long day of racing quite a few racers returned early, and the 15 bonus points on offer for being 15 minutes early was probably a smart tactic on a 2 hour stage.  Gibbs again managed the top score (180 from 200), but not a clearance this time.

Into the Cave Bus and the Pain Cave

Day 3 started at 7am on an overcast and blustery morning, holding the promise of rain later, and the opening special stage was revealed as the Cave Bus!  Sitting in the corner of the car park was an old single-decker bus, cunningly converted into a caving experience and with an astonishing distance of tunnels and turns fitted into such a small space! 

With helmets and headtorches on, the racers set off one at a time, disappearing into the bowels of the bus, which soon echoed with bangs, scrapes and shouts.  It took 10 to 15 minutes to get through and wasn’t a timed or competitive stage, or compulsory.  If the shouts were ‘let me out’ there were lots of escape hatches built in as well, and it was a surprisingly strenuous opening to the second day of racing!

As overall leader, Tom Gibbs was first through and before setting off on the final run/ride stage he said, “The plan is to do the minimum to ensure I can’t be caught as I’m not as conditioned as I used to be and am feeling day one in my legs.”  In the overall ranking he was 50 points ahead of HC Racing (Mark Clarkson & Andrew Higgins) going into the final stage.

Every team and racer was planning their day based on how much distance and ascent they felt they could manage, and aware fatigue from day one could lead to them being late and losing hard earned points.  This was new tactical territory and a conservative plan was a wise one.

For those who had the legs for it, the highlight was the running and biking checkpoints on and around the escarpment of Coombes Edge and Cown Edge Rocks, as the second day course ranged further to the north.   Most stuck to the tightly clustered checkpoints north and south of the scout camp and there were so many route options it’s highly unlikely any two teams took the same route.  Everyone was racing their own course and adjusting the plan as time ticked away, and the majority finished early.

First Time Finishers and Winners

For a couple of brave teams it was their first race.  The Nav 4 Orange team of four had all entered individually and been encouraged to form a team, so they’d never raced together before but got on well and were happy with their result.  They finished second in the Trio Masters Mixed Teams category and plan to race the 40 hour ITERA Lite event together in July next.

Another new team was ‘Grandad and the Boys’ who completed the Trio Novice course led by Grandad (66 year old Mike Bird), racing with his two Grandsons, Jake (27) and Austin (14).  Jake said, “I think Austin and me held him back,” and Mike added, “yes, but I’d have been lost and running all over the greater Stockport area without your map reading!”  Austin said, “It was great fun and we’d definitely do it again.”

Despite a conservative strategy Tom Gibbs still top scored on the second day to win all 3 stages outright and Helen Chapman did the same in the Female Open Solo category.  So did HC Racing in the Trio Masters Teams Category, while Nick Gracie and Katherina Pedersen were well clear in the Mixed teams category.  

Tom Hards finished 3rd in the Open Solo and that is enough for him to lead the series standings after 3 races from 5, but he is only one point ahead of Gracie and Pedersen!  Helen Chapman is4thin the Series standings.  (For the full results see )

At the end of a great weekend of racing Race Director Joe Selby reflected on the successful return of Questar 2 day racing and said, “As it’s our home territory this was a great place for us to try out the 2 day format again, and it’s a format we love, so we do plan on doing more next year.” 

The next race in the Questars Summer Series is in the Mendips on July 6th and the final race is in the Cotswolds on Sept. 14th. 

For full details of both the Summer and Winter series see

See All Stories On This Race

PayPal Limited Edition SleepMonsters BUFF Patreon SleepMonsters Newsletter SleepMonsters Calendar SignUp


AR Discussion Group

Our Patrons

AR World Series

SleepMonsters Patreon

Thank you to all our

adventure racing


AR World Series

Thomas Proulx

-- -- --

Adventure Race Croatia

Warrior Adventure Racing

Brian Gatens

Chris Dixon

Rootstock Racing

-- -- --

Adventure Enablers

Ajita Madan

Chipp Dodd

Celia Nash

David Ellis

Erik Sanders

Graham Bird

Jakub Malik

Josh Hayman

Liam St Pierre

Magnus Foss

Marijn Edelenbosch

Nicola MacLeod

Possum Jump Adventures

Robert Rulison

Strong Machine AR

Your Adventure Maps

-- -- --

Adrian Crane

Barbara Campbell

Dejna Odvody

Ivan Park

Klaus Mygind

Lars Bukkehave

Marco Ponteri

Maria Leijerstam

Nigel Davison

Rob Horton

Semyon Yakimov