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!
Honestly, the fitness and training didn’t really go to plan. I did two, maybe three, 3 mile runs in prepartion, along with my standard cycling. Any form of diet went out of the window months ago so building up to this event I figured my calves were going to die a horrible death again. On the winter run I’d been able to keep pace with one of my friends but since then she’s trained non stop in order to crack the hour barrier… there’s no way I could compete with that.
Still, Sunday came, the sun was shining and I was ready to go. I knew Lou was going to try and keep pace with the faster runners so my first thought was to keep behind with our slow runners but after the first set of obstacles I found myself wanting to push on. They weren’t going fast enough. I made a decision to lone wolf it.
I ran on and started tackling the obstacles solo, helping a few others out but managing to get over / up everything by myself. There seemed to be a lot more solid running on this course compared to the Winter Wolf. I missed the mud pits, deep bogs and deep wades. I missed the log crawl and the hay bails. It seemed like a much easier course.
The running was good. I kept a steady pace and my body held together. I only suffered a brief, painful stitch, but managed to push through trying not to stop. I wasn’t going to chance the swim. It’s been years since I’ve been swimming and the combination of fatigue, icy waters and lack of ability seemed like a good reason to miss it out. Before I knew it I was at 7KM and pushing through to the finish. I somehow managed to complete the course in 90 minutes. I’m sure the Winter Wolf took us over 2 hours!
My favourite part? The slide. I took a nice big run up to get all the speed I could and ended up ploughing face first into the pool at the bottom… with an open mouth… but it seemed to wake me up and give me some more energy to get to the finish.
Of course I ran with the GoPro so I’ve put together a small edit.
I honestly felt great after the run. The severe aches and pains I had after the Winter Wolf were non existant. I was a little cold and in need of a burger but I could walk! Even this morning I could jump out of bed and walk around freely. It seems I did just enough training this time to get me through!
The Summer Wolf is already being booked. It’s on the same course as the Winter Wolf so slightly tougher, but I’m going to aim to improve on the 90 minutes. Bring on the next one!
Honestly, I’m not a runner. I haven’t ran any sort of distance since 2008/9 maybe. Back then I was going to the gym all the time, training for a few runs but ended up training too hard and screwing up my knees. That injury was made worse by several bad falls Snowboarding which again, resulted in a twisted knee. I don’t learn though, and I don’t let injuries heal lie I probably should so every time I’ve tried to run since then my knees give way after a few hundred meters.
It only makes sense then, that I’d sign up to a 10KM outdoor, cross country, obstacle run. That’s also after putting my back out at work and not being able to do any training before the run. I didn’t think this was going to end well…
I’ll tell you what though… it was amazing.
Sure the 10km absolutely destroyed me, my calf muscles tightened up a couple of KM in and ploughing through left me unable to really walk properly for a few days but I don’t regret any of it.
It was on the 2nd November and to be honest, despite the rain it was pretty warm for a winter run. I had on base layers, t shirt and shorts and even in the water I felt warm all the way around. At the start I made really good pace, keeping up with my super fit friend who ran ahead, but we got back with our group and my energy levels dropped. The field running killed me. I find it repetitive and dull. I came alive for the obstacles though.
The mud. The mud was awesome. Crawling through it under cargo nets, running through it and ending thigh deep in a thick gloopy bog actually brought my energy levels back up. I think that’s when the adrenaline kicked in. I was more than happy to throw myself in, wade through chest deep muddy pools and river crossings. I had no energy left for running at the end but the nets and the wall climbs recharged me enough to get to the end. I felt more alive on the strenuous obstacles then on the simple “easy” runs.
Not wanting to miss the opportunity for some GoPro footage I wore my “Chesty” mount. Unfortunately the case started to steam up, and I ran out of dry clean clothes to wipe it down so the footage deteriorates throughout. Hopefully you can get a sense of the run in this 20 minute video though:
It hurt to run that far with no training but I want to do more. I’m looking at doing all four Wolf runs next year and training has already begun. Sticking to what I know I’ve got back on the bikes but I’m going to be going on weekly runs with weighted back packs to get the legs used to running. I did another 5KM at the weekend and that hurt, but it ca only get easier right?