Max Adventure – Glenbrook Adventure Race
Last weekend my family took part in the Glenbrook Adventure Race put on by the excellent team from Max Adventure
We had actually done the event back in 2020 and learned a lot from that initial experience, which definitely helped this time around.
The race is completed in teams of two, and consists of trail running, kayaking, mountain biking and navigating. There are two distances to choose from "Novice" - which takes approximately 2 - 3 hours and "Classic" - which takes around 3 - 6 hours.
In 2020 I teamed up with Locky, a good mate of mine and a very experienced runner and mountain biker. We went absolutely flat out for the whole race, missed a bunch of checkpoints due to our overexcitement and impatience, and were very lucky to finish about middle of the pack.
This year I teamed up with my 17 year old son Charlie, who I was hoping was a better map reader than Locky! I am happy to admit and accept that I shouldn't be the main navigator on any team. I can't navigate my way out of a paper bag.
My 15 year old son Ollie joined Oscar, one of his school mates, in the classic distance event, and my wife Kylie and daughter Lulu had entered the Novice event, but after a fair amount of pressure from Lulu - they upgraded to the Classic so they didn't feel like they were missing out on the madness.
The event hub is held in a big camp clearing in the Glenbrook area of the Blue Mountains National Park, and the race starts with a mini rogaine held within the camping area in an effort to separate the teams. You basically sprint around like headless chooks trying to find 5 of the 6 hidden checkpoints before returning to the start/finish line to start the course-proper.
Charlie was chief map-reader and I was chief checkpoint collector, so we raced around reasonably efficiently collecting our checkpoints, and we started the course somewhere in the top 10 or 15 teams which was significantly better than what I had achieved with Locky.
Our first leg was the trail run, during which we had to collect about 6 or 7 checkpoints in a specific order with an optional bonus checkpoint that gave you a 35 minute time bonus. Given my navigational ineptitude in 2020, I didn't think finding extra checkpoints would be a good idea, so Charlie and I decided to stick to the main course and get through it as quickly as we could.
The second half of the "run" was actually a rock hopping, tree climbing and swimming exercise down through the Glenbrook Gorge where we managed a couple of 20-minute k's despite trying to go as fast as we could. This was a huge amount of fun, and the impromptu swims were a bonus on the 30+ degree day.
At the bottom of the gorge we jumped into one of the 2-person kayaks and set off on the 3.5km paddling leg, stopping half way to pick up one of the checkpoints. We got to the finish of the paddle leg and decided against the optional swim to the far side of the river for a 10-minute bonus checkpoint. I was the one carrying the checkpoint scanner, and the swim probably would have taken me 11 minutes!
From there we had to leg it up a steep climb carrying our paddles and wearing our buoyancy vests, back up to the event hub to set off on the mountain biking leg. We were both looking forward to this section of the course having spent a lot of time mountain biking over the past few years, and also knowing the tracks in this area reasonably well which was a huge bonus.
Our biking leg went relatively smoothly and we collected the required checkpoints without missing one, but again deciding against trying to collect the bike leg bonus checkpoint for another potential 35-minute time bonus.
We raced to the finish line from the final checkpoint and were very surprised to find out that we were first across the line. BUT, because we hadn't collected any bonus points we had a nervous 80 minute wait to find out if anyone had beaten us.
. . . . and sure enough . . . they had!
Lesson learned - if you want to finish at the front end, you have to chase the time bonuses.
We did though have an excellent time and loved every minute of it. The race atmosphere was awesome and the politics that goes on between teams on the course creates a whole different level of both competition and camaraderie which adds a dynamic that you don't get in a normal trail running event. Some teams are happy to divulge directions and checkpoint information, and some teams do their best to hide any information that might give you a slight advantage.
Ollie and Oscar also had a great time, taking a bit longer than I thought they would, but it made more sense when Ollie informed me on the drive home that he "hadn't really looked at the map"
Kylie and Lulu finished right behind Ollie and Oscar, also having a great time, and I think Kylie became Ollie's unofficial navigator for the second half of the race!
If you feel like you would like a challenge that is different than another trail run, then I would very highly recommend taking part in one of the Max Adventure - Adventure races. You don't need any prior experience, although some basic mountain biking skills and even a tiny knowledge of map reading would help you quite a lot on race day.