The Wolf Run is an approx. 10k off-road run featuring a series of man-made and natural obstacles located throughout the course. The concept behind the Wolf Run was to re-create the feeling of running in natural terrain – a wild run that would allow people to experience natural, raw running conditions as far as possible whilst also presenting runners with a challenging, interesting and enjoyable event.
The Wolf Run is all about the experience of Wild Running – running wild and being 100% involved in the experience. The Wolf Run is not a race; it’s a physical and mental challenge that every Wolf Runner tackles their own way – whether it’s running in a pack or running alone as the classic lone wolf!
Off-road running is becoming increasingly popular and justifiably so – getting off the pavements and treadmills into interesting, challenging terrain is amazingly good for you physically and mentally.
There are a series of physical challenges using man-made obstacles with the run course also featuring a huge number of nature’s finest obstacles, from lake swims to mud pits, fallen trees, boggy ground, ditches, hills and dense foliage, making the run more organic and recreating a natural, wild run. Every step will test you mentally and physically, taking you back to a primal, instinctive way of running in raw, challenging terrain.
The design of the obstacles is also overseen by a fitness professional with a Masters in Sports Science and years of experience in functional fitness training. This ensures that your entire body is challenged by the design of our course, providing an excellent all-body workout that will leave you fitter, stronger and more confident.
Having competed in April 2013 and now September 2013 has made me realize that the course will never be 100% the same. The ground, weather, temperature and even the obstacles are always changing. For me, something about knowing it’s not always the same makes me want to keep going back, to conquer each new phase the course travels through.
In April, I found the course harder for a few reasons… 1: It was absolutely freezing. The professionals on site deemed the swim to be too dangerous and so everyone had to run around the lake. Hopefully this opens your eyes to how the other sections felt with freezing mud water and numb hands, not to mention the body under constant attack from the elements. 2: My body fat % was approx 8% at the time, so the cold was hitting me hard, resulting in my body using more energy to stay warm. It is essential you get your clothing right! Always bring more rather than less. 3: My left knee had been damaged days before the event training. Even today the doctors haven’t confirmed what is wrong. My opinion is that I have suffered from some nerve/tendon damage as its excruciating to run when it flares up. This didn’t stop me doing the Wolf Run, more so I’m too proud to give in! It was the longest 10k I have ever limped!
Then to top it all off, somehow my helmet camera corrupted the files recorded on that run. This devastated me as I risked my knee’s health for some good footage that I never received. Slightly broken, tired, injured and upset, I vowed to seek my revenge on the bad luck I had on that particular event day. So I booked in with my friends for the September Wolf Run. Our wolf pack was greater in numbers this time as our tales of the day inspired more people to seek this enjoyment and hopefully the weather would be more forgiving too. My only issue, doctors tell me to stay off my knee! As a personal trainer this is got to be one of the hardest things to do! Even though I didn’t agree, I did minimal training for the September Wolf Run.
I’m not going to include an in-depth training guide as my training suffered due to my knee so it wouldn’t be fair and accurate. For my training all I could manage to do was cycle as it wasn’t too hard on my knees and occasional swimming. Training wise I was very laid back, so as long as you have a good amount of fitness to start with you won’t really need to push yourself too hard to train for the Wolf Run. Even a sedentary person will be able to complete the course, as long as they have a good wolf pack to rely on. Although my preparation list is overkill, this is how you would plan when booked in for your own Wolf Run. Like I said before, rather have too much than not enough!
September Wolf Run 2013 Start Time 10:45am
If you haven’t done anything like this before you will naturally have nerves beforehand and odds are you’ll be running to the loo quite a bit. Don’t worry they have plenty of portable-loos on site 🙂 just make sure to fuel yourself correctly, relax and enjoy yourself. As soon as you finish you’ll want to come back for more! To start off everyone will have a warm up that last approx 5mins just to get the juices flowing and then everybody lines up at the start. Countdown, 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… GO!
**The main thing that will make obstacles harder is the amount of people in the way, so my advice would be to break away as soon as you can and always look out for good spots to overtake, and then cruise on from there. Inevitably you’ll catch up with the stragglers from the last group (Lets say 10:30am start for me) and once again they can slow you down. So constantly you need to keep a good pace to avoid bottle-necking at points and obstacles and even queues!**
** There will be a lot of muddy running in between all of these obstacles, which you may find a challenge yourself. I have chosen to just talk about the main points in this blog**
First Obstacle: Tyres
The tyres obstacle will start off with small to average car tyres, progressing into massive tractor tyres and then finally a small tyre wall. You can either land in the gaps with your feet or jump tyre to tyre.
My opinion: Stay on the rubber, even though it will be hard at the start the tyres get thicker so space for your feet will become better. Plus it should be a lot easier on your legs energy wise.
Second Obstacle: Water Walk
I know what you’re thinking, that’s not an obstacle! True it isn’t, but it’s still a challenge regardless. You still need to pluck the courage and walk through water that can reach your chest to the point your tip toe’in across to the other side. September’s water walk was far easier as the body of water had dropped significantly since. Even still the small lake bedding is uneven and will remind you of it time to time.
My Opinion: Use your hand to scoop water past you and take good strides through the water. Keep calm as you have plenty of running to follow which will dry you off mostly. Power through and breathe normal, don’t panic and take it easy.
Third Obstacle: Water Ditch and Rope
Here you will come across a small body of muddy water with a rope to pull yourself out of. Not hard at all, but make sure you have enough upper body strength to pull yourself up. If you have a wolf pack with you then easily one can be in the water with you and give you a boost as the other pulls you up to the other side. Otherwise it’s just simple. Slide in, get wet, pull rope and run!
My Opinion: Use your feet as much as you can to get grip while your arms pull you up. Make things as easy as you can for yourself. Also id wait for the path to clear as you may come across traffic of people.
Fourth Obstacle: Mud Water Army Crawl
This involves you laying flat in water and army crawling to the other side as you navigate through as you’ll have branches above and wooden poles within the water holding them up. Small gap to fit so yea can be a bit daunting, and if like me you have a helmet camera then most of the time your face will be almost under water to protect the camera! Just crawl to the other side and your done!
My Opinion: Wait for a good space and then go for it; people will yet again make this harder by getting in the way, slowing down or even hitting you accidentally. I just used my arms here and pulled myself across with upper body strength. This can be a good chance to rest your legs. Keep your mouth closed and breath through your nose, it’s easier than it looks, just take your time and prepare.
** By now you may have realised that a lot of people will slow down and stop every time they come to a log or tree to climb. This will slow everyone else down! If this is you and you don’t feel comfy jumping or mounting past these keep in mind others are waiting to go! This annoyed me a bit as this was a constant theme and not many cared for their surroundings. So keep this in mind.**
Fifth Obstacle: Wooden Wall
A wooden wall with 2 slots made for your footing and your grip. Not challenging but still something that will drain energy. Make sure your happy with your grip and footing as if you keep falling off you may dishearten yourself.
My Opinion: Help anyone you can, this is a team effort event. The more people helping the easier it will be. Make sure to have good upper body, as you can do just as I did and pull yourself up even if you can’t get a good grip with your feet!
Sixth Obstacle: Woods Slalom
Again this isn’t an obstacle but still a challenge. Running in zig zags up and down in the woods will start to fatigue you so don’t be surprised if there are a lot of people in your way here. Stay strong and keep up your breathing. Rest if required.
My Opinion: The path will become narrow and dangerous, if you make a mistake and fall. Odds are there will be loads of people here all tired and walking. You may be better off here resting and walking with them as there isn’t much chance to overtake and odds are you’ll spend a lot of energy in doing so. This part will be hard on your knees!
Seventh Obstacle: Hay Blocks
Nothing too major. First you will see a climbing wall with 3 difficulties, if like me you don’t notice until you play it back no worries! To the left of the wall you will have loads of grips and footings to make it easy to manage, to the right you will have fewer grips and handles and lastly, in the middle you will have no grips at all. Once you have passed this small climbing wall you will have small hay obstacles to deal with and off you go again! No advice needed here, just climb and go, easy enough.
Eighth Obstacle: Ground Ditches
Almost as if someone with a big ice cream scooper has come and took away some chocolate scoops of ground and mud! Massive trenches that you will need to build momentum and to run from side to side. There are indents that you can stab your footing into to make a lot easier. Have good balance and use the contours of the ground to help.
**My knee was giving me very bad pain at this point. So even though on the footage I look like I’m struggling, ill still offer you advice on how challenges can be done efficiently. Just keep in mind you may see me doing something else, but that’s to compensate for the damaged limb**
Ninth Obstacle: Lake Swim
So by now you’ve past some more fallen trees and thick mud but you’ve made it to the lake. Here the swim is approx 60 meters long and 5 meters deep so you need to swim across. If this isn’t for you, there is the option to jog around and meet up with the swimmers at the other side. There will be floats in the water should you need to stop and have a breather and even better, lifeguards on a raft if you need any sort of help. As long as you’re comfortable with swimming, defiantly go for this. But I warn you, swimming in full clothes in nothing like normal swimming, not to mention the muddy colour.
My Opinion: DO NOT swim if you are not confident with it. Even myself at one point felt like I could have drowned. If you have any injures at this point do not go in the swim unless you’re really sure about it. Swimming with trainers on is something I have never done and I’m telling you now, the trainers will stop the fin like action with your feet resulting in you going slowly forward, or nowhere at all! Myself I swam freestyle and breaststroke, finding breaststroke to be the best option. Your arms will do almost all the work here as your footwear will ruin your rhythm. Pick a swimming style you are comfy with and if possible, go to the local swimming pool and practice swimming in your full wolf run clothing beforehand. I didn’t do this but sure learnt to do it this time!
Tenth Obstacle: WATER SLIDE
Again there will be a queue of people here! Object is to slide down to the bottom on the water and foam covered sheet. One thing I noticed was it was very bumpy though and I could feel all the imperfections underneath. That much so I bruised my hip. You can see me at one point flipping onto my back as the pain started to sink in from all the rocks under the sheet. Wolf Team could do with smoothing this out. Apart from that just go down with a smile.
My Opinion: Sprint and go down like a missile, if you come into traffic like I do, be ready to think fast! I felt myself flying over to a girl who was going really slowly, so with quick thinking I pushed and flipped myself in the opposite direction. Worked a charm! Make sure your clothing has padding otherwise you will feel all the imperfections underneath!
Eleventh Obstacle: Monkey Bars * NEW*
A new obstacle from the previous Wolf Run, but I welcome more and more obstacles! In my opinion there is too much down time with plain running/jogging. I’d love there to be far more obstacles… I digress! The monkey bars are self-explanatory, if you have a park by your home with monkey bars then that’s your best way to train for these. Make sure your hands are dry and if you have gloves take them off as mine got in the way. Good upper body and core and take your time. They aren’t the most comfortable to grip but power on and even if you don’t complete it, at least you tried!
My Opinion: Chin ups and core work is required to able to conquer this one. Also you’ll see in the footage that you may have to adjust your grip as even the sun can get in your way blocking your view! If you can do it, well done! Just carry on to the next challenge.
Twelfth Obstacle: Rope “A” Frame
Climbing up the rope almost like 90’s gladiators! Again if you’re afraid of heights then leave this and carry on. Take your time and always look where you are putting your hands and feet. And for the love of god help anyone that needs it. You’ll feel so much better if your wolf run consists of helping others to complete it!
My Opinion: Put your feet on the horizontal parts of the rope, but grab the vertical parts with your hands. This will be the most efficient structure attacking this; you can even hear the steward confirming this! Once you get to the top, take your time and make sure you’re comfortable with every small move you do.
Thirteenth Obstacle: Thick Mud and Hay
By now you will be tired and the thick mud doesn’t help, but again if everyone is helping each other this should be no big deal. Best bet with the hay is to attack it with speed as over the course of the day, it will be muddy and slippery so get it over and done with. Crawling through the gaps in the hay are easy enough too as long as you don’t get blocked by people.
Final Obstacle: Wall and Mud Bath
The wall has got rope on there to help but odds are when you get to it, it’s covered in mud and offers no grip. Just use the supports built into the wall to obtain small grip and power over this final hurdle. Yes you’re tired, yes it’s hard and yes everyone is watching you! But that’s why you need to do this part and do it with a smile as Peachy snaps will be taking pictures of you and this one will be the most iconic of all… The Mud Bath! After the wall you got to summon the final strength to make it up the mud slide and once at the top, POSE! Make sure to jump in the mud or make a silly pose because if you end up buying any pictures from the Peachy snaps team, odds are its going to be this one!
WOLF RUN COMPLETE!
That’s it, that’s the wolf run pretty much done! Now get washed up, get dry as quick as possible, refuel yourself and get warm. D.O.M.S. will kick in so be prepared to be sore straight after and even for a few days following the event.
I did this event as I wanted to have another go and hopefully obtain footage as evidence. Also I was hoping my knee would be OK but I guess that didn’t work out either. But the main thing that I’ve left till last is the fact that I also did this to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer.
Raising the Charity Money!
As I also work part-time at Mecca Bingo in Acocks Green Birmingham, I asked permission from my manager, Terry, if I could collect money in a bucket from the customers that came to play and enjoy the bingo. Marie Curie is Mecca’s registered charity at this time so making things easy I opted to raise all funds for this cause.
I was absolutely shocked and taken back by the generosity of the customers and staff alike as combing the money I made in the bucket collection and with the money Kim Beasley Raised in sponsors; we hit Approx £1,500.00 in one week’s worth of charity collecting! THAT’S CRAZY!
I can assume that due to mine and Kim’s personalities, the customers have got to know us over the years and rewarded us for it. See, it pays to be polite, respectful and funny :)! I only work at Mecca 2 days a week, so all the other days I’m doing my personal training. Due to this, staff members, such as Luke Edwards and Donna Clements, kept reminding customers of the wolf run that me and Kim were doing and this helped keeping the flow of loose change coming into the wolf run bucket! For what it’s worth I can say that even though they didn’t participate in the actual Wolf Run, I class the people who help me raise the money a part of my TEAM PHX WOLF PACK! Give yourselves a howl guys, we’ve earned it… Thank you Mecca, Terry, Management, Staff and Customers of Mecca Bingo. You guys all made this possible!
… Hopefully you see why I couldn’t stop when injured. The pain in my knee will go someday… But if I had stopped and quit, that pain would have stayed forever…