The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

South Downs Adventure Race


Course Conditions

Information about the course area and conditions for the 2018 South Downs Adventure Race.


Special Notes

The bridleways and footpaths are generally clear of vegetation but it is that time of year when brambles are at their full extent, so do keep an eye out for stray brambles protruding from the hedgerows and it's also worth checking your bike tyres are not starting to perish.

We recommend you wear or carry with you some sort of leg cover / protection (e.g. a lightweight pair of waterproof trousers that you can easily slip on and off) just in case you encounter a patch of nettles / overgrown path. We didn't have any problems with nettles when we went round the course last month but you may take a different route to us so better to be safe than sorry.

Approximately half the area is wooded and the other half is open fields so the wooded areas will offer some welcome shade if it's sunny. If it is hot we recommend carrying / putting on some insect repellant as we got bitten a couple of times by horseflies near one of the farms.

There are livestock in one or two fields on the Downs so please make sure you shut and properly fasten all gates behind you. For your safety, please try not to disturb the livestock. Proceed with caution around livestock where present. Do not run. Do not get in between the cows and their calves.

Most of the routes are well signed - look out for footpath fingerposts, bridleway fingerposts and waymarker posts to keep you on the right track.


Trail Run

The majority of the trail run takes place off road on public footpaths and bridleways although there are one or two short sections where you will need to run along roads / on the pavement in order to link checkpoints together.

The nature of the trails varies widely from gravel tracks and grassy tracks to compacted bare earth and uneven fields (which will have been harvested now and may even have been ploughed)

The trail run will take you up onto the South Downs where the chalk substratum means the ground is relatively well drained and remains quite firm even after heavy rain.

Don't expect to encounter much mud, but that's not to say there won't be any as some of the depressions where rain water pools take a long time to dry out and firm up. Take care on any exposed marl which is incredibly slippery when damp. Trail shoes with a decent tread are therefore recommended. 


Mountain Biking

The mountain biking takes place both up on the Downs and in the southern part of the Weald basin on the north side of the Downs.

The northern side of the Downs is characterised by a steep escarpment where the routes cut diagonally up and down across the scarp face. In stark contrast the southern side of the downs (the lee slope), where the wooded trails provide some great mountain biking, is not so steep.

The tops of the Downs themselves are characterised by rolling or undulating hills over which the South Downs Way passes. The South Downs Way is a major long distance trail and for the most part provides a good wide all weather surface on which to ride. In some places it's grassy, but the grass is short and it's easy going. In other places it's not so good where it crosses fields and where the surface of the track has been eroded. Take care on the eroded sections as not only is the exposed chalk greasy and slippery but they are often off camber. The chalk also contains razor-sharp flint nodules so safest to get off and walk over any difficult sections rather than risk falling off and injuring yourself.

The Weald can be muddy in places but on the whole it is characterised by sandy soils which are naturally good at draining. If it's dry, watch out for soft deep sand in a couple of places where you might find it easiest to jump off your bike and push until you reach firmer ground.

The course includes some busy roads and narrow lanes. Take care. Always expect to find oncoming traffic around the next corner. Moderate your speed on steep descents. Keep within your technical riding capabilities. It's much safer to dismount if you are uncertain.



The kayaking takes place on a tidal stretch of river. Access is via a steeply inclined river bank covered in block paving which despite appearances is very slippery when wet. It is best to walk down to the edge of the block paving, where the ground is flat, before getting onto your kayak. This 'flat shelf' at the bottom remains submerged even at low tide, so expect to get your feet wet.

The river is typically over ten metres wide but in one or two places it narrows considerably to just a few metres in width. The water flows faster through these narrow sections so it requires a bit more effort to paddle through these 'bottlenecks' against the flow, but they are short lived and once the river widens the paddling returns to normal.

Most of the river is free of vegetation but reeds do grow on the riverbed in one or two places. At high tide these are suspended in the water column and so shouldn't cause you any problems as they are underwater. At low tide the tops of the reeds float on the surface which can make paddling through them hard work but you can often avoid the worst of them by picking a clear line through them.

The large fallen tree that lay across the river the last time we used this stretch of water has been removed (so you won't have to paddle under this one again). Another big tree has come down recently but this is higher off the water and you can paddle around it (if you don't want to paddle under it). All the kayak checkpoints can be reached from your kayak so once you are on the water, there should be no need to get off until you have finished kayaking.

Keep an eye out for herons, cormorants, fish and other wildlife.



View all the photos taken on recent recce's showing different parts of the course here

Also have a look at the recce photos for the previous event held in this area


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