Review: Tackling the winter Wolf Run

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The Wolf Run is a quarterly Obstacle Course Race (OCR) that takes place at Stanford Hall in Lutterworth (Summer and Winter) and Welsh Road Farm in Warwickshire (Spring and Autumn). Put in simple terms “it’s a bit like a Tough Mudder” and spans approximately 10km.

OCRs are one of the fastest growing mass participation sporting events in the country you can find yourself with a choice of multiple events most weekends. In the Midlands alone you have a choice of Wolf Run, Tough Guy, Mud Run, Ram Run, Pretty Muddy, Mud Yard, Reaper, Mud Bath, Suffering, Rock Solid, Kickass Endurance, Beast, F.E.A.R and perhaps the most well known Tough Mudder.

Having tried my hand at The Reaper, Tough Mudder and Wolf Run there is something that keeps pulling me back to the Wolf Run. When Cool As Leicester asked me to review its most punishing event of the year ‘The Winter Wolf’ I was filled with a combination of joy and trepidation.

The Winter Wolf is an unpredictable beast and it all comes down to temperature. The colder it is the more challenging the experience, so you can imagine the joy at 8:15 on a Saturday morning when the temperature gauge on the car read 6, dropping to 5 en route to Stanford Hall.

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We were in the first wave of the day at 10am with 248 other unhealthily keen runners and it was bitingly cold. Gettting eased into these races generally isn’t the style and the Winter Wolf was no different beginning with a sprint through a lake, a hay bail jump and a freezing swim across the lake (not even 1km in yet!).

As the kilometres went by we were faced with a multitude of obstacles, both natural and man made that would be a challenge for the most hardened of athlete. I gave most a good effort but came up short (again) when my nemesis ‘The Monkey Bars’ appeared (I’m blaming cold hands and arms this time). We then descended into the woody undergrowth and into the ‘Mudsucker’. If your spirit was still intact before the Mudsucker you can guarantee it wouldn’t be when you exited the woods. A combination of draining waist deep thick mud and the freezing temperatures put an end to any remnants of that.

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The waterslide arrived (Wolf Run’s only real ‘novelty’ obstacle) and it was a chance to put a bit of a smile back on your face as you glide down about 100 metres of fast flowing (and a bit soapy) water. It’s also the perfect opportunity to get some of that heavy mud washed off your feet.

Coming towards the end of the run we were faced with some wall climbs, log walks, undulating runs through the woods and crawling on hands and knees through the undergrowth before the finish line entered view. Just a final rope climb and a dunk under the temporary jetty and the race was finished with us feeling cold, exhausted and relieved.

winter wolf run
As horrendous as it all sounds it’s a lot of fun. Over the two days almost 9,000 people would take on the Winter Wolf and a small portion of these get the title ‘Alpha Wolf’ having completed all four seasons in the year. The organisation of the event is excellent, from the moment of arrival until departure, the organisers have thought of everything to keep you looked after (except maybe warm showers J). Parking is right next to the site, registration is a breeze and you get the absolute best finishers shirt out of any event in the UK. The volunteers deserve special praise for how they raise your spirits before, during and after the race and I’m sure Winter Wolf 2016 will be far from my last.

Keen to see more of the action? We had the GoPro with us so we could bring you a first hand view of what to expect!

The Wold Run returns to Stanford Hall, Leicestershire, in June but you can sign up now for the Spring Wolf Run in Warwickshire over on the Wolf Run website.

Words by Stephen Jones.