At the time of writing this, yesterday I tackled woods, obstacles, lakes and fields – the Autumn Wolf Run 2018.
My parents drove me to Welsh Road Farm in Warwickshire where I met my friend, her boyfriend, his sister and her friend. I signed in at the registration desk, showed my ID and received my running number and wristband. During the early morning and the drive to the location, I was feeling apprehensive to say the least. I didn’t really know what to expect; I was worried I wouldn’t be able to accomplish it.
For those who aren’t aware, The Wolf Run is an off-road run featuring a series of man-made and natural obstacles located throughout the course. The concept behind the Wolf Run is to re-create the feeling of running in natural terrain. This experience and wild run allowed me to experience natural, raw running conditions whilst also facing a challenging, interesting and enjoyable event.
I was surprised by the range of people taking part in the event. There were so many different abilities with people running and racing through the whole course, and others just walking and tackling their own battles. For me, it was more of a competition against myself and my inner voice. It was pleasing to see the number of people running for a charity and as part of a supportive group – people were really willing each other on.
The ancient woodland trails and deep water crossings were just a few of the battles I faced during this adventure. High climbing nets, log walls and the famously fast landslide were other challenges on the 10k course.
I wasn’t expecting the amount of trails through woodlands; I found it challenging to avoid tree roots, branches and other elements while running through the trees, it was very slippery too. There really was a series of physical challenges from lake swims to mud pits, fallen trees, boggy ground, ditches, hills and dense foliage.
Every step tested me physically, you really do need some upper and lower body strength, but it was definitely more mentally testing. The course provided an excellent all-body workout that, if you completed the course each season, will leave you feeling fitter, stronger and more confident. After several leg-ups from others, I managed to climb and jump most of the obstacles.
Some of the hardest bits for me were the Alpha Lake and the massive water slide. I managed to conquer the mud and climbs with just a little hesitation; however the lake was just too cold for me to function. The lake was 175cm deep so standing up for most was not an option. I managed to get in up to my shoulders, but it just took my breath away and made me panic, I didn’t want to risk getting half way across and not be able to move. Even at water parks, I have always been too scared to ride the water slides. This one was even longer than I had witnessed previously.
My friends just ran and jumped up to it and disappeared down the slope – they had each done the run two or three times before so they were used to all of the challenges. It took me a couple of minutes and persuasion and reassurance from the marshals and others, but I did it. I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t!
Climbing over the obstacles was somewhat easier at the beginning compared to when I was wet and my hands and shoes were covered in layers of mud. The obstacles were also covered in water and mud from previous runners, leaving them extremely slippery and slimy and almost impossible to get a grab hold. There was one wall in particular that I just didn’t want to risk getting to the top and slipping off.
I wanted to tackle the monkey bars or at least attempt them. However, because of my height there was no way I was going to be able to reach the bars to even start, despite standing on the massive black platform provided. One of the marshals said he’d give me a leg up, I tried to jump and the next thing I knew I had fallen from quite a height and people were running up to me asking if I was alright. I heard my shoulder or collar bone click and I instantly knew that I had badly bruised my leg. At the time, I got up straight away and continued running; I was just so grateful that I didn’t break anything.
I crossed the finish line coated in mud and muddy water from head to toe and received my Finisher’s Wolf Runner shirt. I tried to wash off as much mud as possible with the water hoses, and then my mum helped me in the changing tent to get my wet clothes off me and wipe me down, before putting on fresh clothes.
When I got home I was excited to see all of the photos taken, but I also became aware of the state my legs were in. Where I had fallen, I had a massive blue/purple swollen patch on the back of the leg with scratches and also there was a series of red bruises all the way up the front of both legs.
The first thing I did when I arrived back was have a shower and try to get the mud off my body and out of my hair. I felt so much better after this. My mum kindly tackled my muddy shoes and clothes and did such a great job of de-mudding everything, even my trainers which were plastered!
This was possibly one of the mentally hardest things I’ve ever done, but I’m so glad I pushed myself to do it. It is an experience I will never forget. Some parts were definitely a challenge for me, considering I hate getting muddy and am afraid of open water, but being surrounded by such friendly encouraging people really helped me to overcome some of these doubts.
If you are up for the challenge and want to push yourself out of your comfort zone, I would really recommend signing up for one of these adventures.