The aches are back! (But at least I can walk this year!)
Sunday, November 8th 2015.
My fourth Wolf Run and my favourite course out of the two. This year I’ve managed to run all the “seasons” apart from the Autumn, which sold out ridiculously quickly! In the Summer, I ran at Stanford Hall and found a strangely muddy course, more so than the Winter Run the year before. For this run I expected there to be lots of mud but maybe not quite as much as the Summer due to the cooler temperatures. Unfortunately the warm October and the wet start to November totally destroyed that idea. I was in for a mud bath!
Yet again, I haven’t done any running training, with the only exercise being my cycling, never the less, I was fairly confident. It was warm (base layers probably weren’t needed…) and although it was threatening rain, nothing fell from the sky. A four Weetabix breakfast, a couple of coffees and a few chocolate flapjacks and I was ready to run.
The organisers switched things up a bit this time round by reversing the course. Usually the slippy, muddy woodland section is at the start and being full of energy I can normally skip over the rough ground without a problem. The reverse course was different. By the time I hit that final section I was drained and could barely summon up the energy for a fast walk.
The course started with the swims. Now I haven’t swam in years, over 10 years, so I always avoid the first proper swim. It’s probably all psychological but with the shock from the cold water I’m convinced I’d never make it to the other side. A couple of hay bail obstacles lay before the second “swim” which were easily scaled. This “swim” is a bit deceiving. You can actually walk through it, although the water does come high up on my chest. The water was cold, but not as cold as 2014, it didn’t take my breath away nearly as much as it did the year before. The organisers had thrown something new in here too… A giant float across the river. A quick dip in the water to get underneath it doesn’t seem like much but I was seriously considering turning back and running around that section. I didn’t back down though. Although it was only a quick dive under, I really had no idea where I was or how far I’d travelled. Breaking the surface, clear of the float felt good! My GoPro didn’t like the sudden drop in temperature though and after that it really began to fog up.
The rest of the course was pretty straight forward. The usual obstacles were dotted around in different locations. I cleared the monkey bars without too much trouble, climbed the walls (having to ditch my gloves on a couple of occasions), balanced over the log walks where most were crawling and dived as hard as I could down the slide. The only obstacles that I despise is one I haven’t included in the video. It’s a big structure, with smooth telegraph poles positioned horizontally on different levels. The aim is obviously to step / jump from one to another but with the ground conditions each pole gets ridiculously slippy. Combine that with my lack of flexibility and it means I have to cling to the metal frame at the edge to even have a hope of making it across.
As for the mud, well, it was intense! The main bog seemed to have grown in size and was causing a massive bottle neck. Some brave folks were trying to get through the middle but the mud was so thick and deep (up to their waists) that they were simply getting stuck. Runners were trying to get around the edges in the shallow areas and climbing over any tree they could. I stopped for a while to help out and drag some runners free from the mud. The first guy you’ll see in the video was really tough to pull free. He was up to his waist and the amount of force I was having to put in, felt like I was about to dislocate his shoulder. I eventually got him free with the help of a fellow runner who was stuck in the mud but it wasn’t easy. One poor women to the left needed the help of 6 or so runners to dig her out and pull her free.
The mud just sucks your energy. That’s definitely what killed my energy levels and made the whole course a challenge. I’ve washed my clothes off today and my shorts and shoes were completely brown, caked in mud. I wouldn’t change it for the world 😉
It wasn’t a quick run for us. The bottlenecks we encountered and stopping to help at the bog slowed us down a lot. One of the runners I was with was also carrying an injury (and picked up another during the run) and despite his appeals for us to just run on we couldn’t leave him. It took us nearly 2.5 hours to cover just 10kM. I think the fastest runners I went with did the course in nearly 45 minutes quicker and the quickest of the weekend ran the course in under 50 minutes (We’re quite curious how that time was so fast with all the obstacles…). Despite the slow timing I had a great time. It’s a great day out and I have a laugh.
There aren’t any pictures out just yet but as soon as they’re out I’ll post some. Thanks to all the event organisers and marshalls! It was a great year of events. I’ll be back for 2016 to run all four and become an Alpha Wolf!
Wolf Run #3 completed!
On the 14th I ran the Summer Wolf Run. The event was back at Stanford Hall, on the muddier, more challenging course but with it being “Summer” I figured it would be a bit easier than it was in the Winter. How wrong I was. Fitness wise I was a lot more prepared for the course but in a flip of logic the course had actually got worse in the drier “summer” conditions. The mud was thicker and deeper!
The majority of the mud comes in the first half of the course when you’ve got the most energy. It’s tough going and in parts you really need the help of others. I ran with Luke and Andy this time. Lou has been training hard for a huge romp later in the year so she left us at the start and ran with those more her pace. Us lads stuck together and helped each other through. I don’t think I would have got out one part of the bog myself without their help!
It was a great run despite the more challenging conditions. The GoPro stayed nicely mounted to my head and caught all the action. Unfortunately it died at 8KM so it missed the “swims” and the last few obstacles. Back on the Winter Run the course had a series of features made from hay bails but the organisers seem to have replaced those with a log feature. Rumour has it somebody broke their leg on the hay bails on the winter course and so the feature got switched out. For me personally this new feature is ridiculous. The logs soon get soaked and slippery and the gaps between each one are too much for my short, inflexible legs to stretch. On the hay bails I could jump between them and scramble up but on this new feature I have to cling to the metal frame for dear life. Not my cup of tea at all…
Thankfully though we all made it around in one piece. I’ll be looking at booking the Autumn run soon. At £60 a pop it’s quite expensive though!
Last Summer I had my arm twisted into joining a few rides over at Cannock Chase. I loved it. Before I rode it I thought I’d be terrible, the trails would be petrifying and I’d end up smashing my face off a tree. The truth was in the nice dry Summer months I didn’t fall off once and only got faster and faster as my confidence grew, even on my old hard tail.
But I haven’t been since, late September (I think)… until today.
With all these “Wiggle” events I want to do I thought it would be a good idea to get back on the mountain bike and climb some hills. The Epic routes are around 35 miles and sure that’s easy enough on a road bike and I even thought I could pull it off on a mountain bike but today changed my mind slightly. It’s going to be hard work!
With all the rain we’ve had recently I knew the trails would be waterlogged and muddy so bought a few mudguards and some wider tyres to help me round the course. I don’t know why I bothered with the guards to be honest, I still got covered in mud. I was also meant to be riding my usual route with one of my friends who had never experienced Cannock Chase before. Unfortunately she doesn’t have her own bike and with the bike shop on site being out of “standard” rentals and wanting £30 + £1000 pre authorisation for a “premium” rental she decided not to go. (Who has £1000 sitting in their bank account?!). Luckily for me, a lad I know from my Honda days was also heading over with a group of friends so I managed to tag along.
The route I normally take in an 8 mile loop but Chris had in mind the full circuit. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem until I discovered the section I normally miss out is full of long hard climbs. The ground was soaking, parts waterlogged, parts chewed up mud and nearly all slippy. It was a tough 12 miles! According to Strava we climbed a total of 1,303 ft and it really took its toll on both me, and the bike.
Near the top of one of the first steep climbs I managed to bring back up the pre ride RedBull I’d had and halfway round I forgot to take the lockout off before one of the descents and at the bottom took a tumble. There were a couple of other “oh shit” moments where I slipped off the pedals down a rocky descent and went over the handle bars down some stairs but lucky I’ve only suffered a few cuts and bruises. My bike on the other hand…well… On one climb the chain decided to jam and once I’d freed it, it then decided to snap. Luckily I carry spare links and tools so I was able to fix it but later on, in the fall, I managed to break the remote lockout lever off my handlebars. It was certainly an eventful ride but if nothing else it’s proved how unfit I’ve got.
A few repairs are needed now but I’m aiming to get over to Cannock once a week to conquer the hills and rebuild my fitness. 12 miles and 1300 feet climbing killed me today. 35 miles isn’t looking promising.
I did take my GoPro with my today too but unfortunately the battery decided to die before me fall and the other interesting descents. I’ve also realised how bad the handlebar mount makes the quality of the footage after seeing the footage from one of the lads I was riding with. Hopefully next time I’ll have the GoPro “Chesty” and be able to fix mine to my body and avoid all the violent shaking. For now, I’m going to post Andy’s footage so you can see how they rode on their full suspension bikes (a lot quicker then me on a hard tail!)