Wolf Run

The Wolf Run

l-r Lynx, Sarah C, Sarah F, Cat

We spent our Sunday cold, wet, muddy and smelling like a duck pond. No, we hadn’t been bog snorkelling. We completed our first ever 10k muddy obstacle course called The Wolf Run.

In November, we started warrior training with Si Dwyer, which is basically an hour of relentless exercise (weights usually) accompanied with colourful language and abuse. And that’s just from us. Si pushes us beyond where we feel we can go and he proves we can do it. So as his warriors, Si invited us to take part in The Wolf Run. As our new year’s resolution is always ‘do something different’, we agreed. Plus we’d seen the medals and Si said they were dressing as superheroes. We love challenges and obstacle courses, so this sounded like fun. There was one drawback – we hate running.

When we say we hate running, we mean that given the choice between running and being water-boarded, we would be offering our faces up for torture before a runner had finished tying their laces. But we agreed to do it so we forced ourselves to go out jogging two or three times a week. Our running friends said we would grow to love it. This isn’t like a marriage of convenience. The love didn’t grow. Our social media was filled with statuses about how much we hated it. We bitched, whinged and selfied our way through our torment. We mean training. We posted about how we were looking forward to completing the Wolf Run just so we could give up running. Si took us on a 3 mile run around Carleon to train us. We passed a cemetery as they were lowering a coffin into the grave and at that moment, wished we could change places with the corpse. Corpses don’t have to run. Si warned us about an oncoming car, but to be honest, getting hit would mean we’d have a rest if we were sprawled on the tarmac. We had to take a month off due to illness, so by the time the Wolf Run came around, we could only run for two miles without stopping. 10k is about 6 miles, so we were well off our target, but we’d run out of time.

Wolf Run

Lynx escaping the ash hole

We bought costumes – Lynx was Black Widow and Cat was Catwoman (the one from the comics). We decided to see if we could run in them before the big event and got some stares. The Catwoman hood with ears and goggles was a bit hard to hide. And the zip undid every time Cat ran. So a safety pin would needed for the event, or the poor runners would not only have to endure mud, but unimpressive boobs jiggling beside them like peaches in sack.

On Sunday, we got up at 6 a.m. and picked up our two friends from gymnastics – Sarah F and Sarah C. Sarah F was doing it with us, while Sarah C was there for support and to take pictures off us face planting in the mud. Sarah F was running as Supergirl, Cat was Catwoman and Lynx was Black Widow, which everyone at the run mistook for Catwoman. We got there at 9:40 and went to register. Our anxiety was now in overdrive. This was completely new and terrifying. And there were so many people! As one member of the team had dropped out, they allowed you to substitute a runner. Luckily, Sarah C happened to be wearing running gear and the next minute, she was signed up with an hour to go. Crazy woman.

wolf runThere was another team all dressed as superheroes, so we weren’t the only ones. Lots of people thought we were mad and that we’d get hot in our outfits. They were wrong. So very, very wrong. Everyone running at 11 had to do a warm up then we all crowded at the start line. And Lynx immediately had a panic attack. Thanks, anxiety, not being able to breathe right at the start of a 10k race is super helpful. Fortunately, having had panic attacks for 20 years, getting out of them is no longer a problem. We didn’t expect to hit the first obstacle so soon, but happily clambered over the hay bales. That’s where we lost the Sarahs, after helping them over. Then there was thigh deep water. That was it. We hadn’t had the chance to even build a sweat and we were already cold and wet. We stayed that way for the entire run. We didn’t warm up once and by the time we left the water, our fingers already hurt from the cold. It was not the start we’d hoped for.

Wolf run

Where we nearly drowned in the ash hole

We ran on, keeping to our pace, as Si had advised. He’d warned us that we may start running faster than normal, as we’d be all hyped up on adrenaline and excitement. We were feeling dread, not excitement, but we managed to stick to our slow jogging pace and for once, didn’t feel the need to race against alpha males. Thirteen minutes after we’d started, there was a muddy pond called the ash hole. We’d promised our sister that we’d stick together and twins don’t let twins drown alone, so we linked hands and waded in. It was a good job too, because the muddy ridge Lynx was on disappeared and she would’ve gone under, had Cat not been holding on. It was meant to be waist deep. Everyone else waded across, no problem. We quickly got out of our depth and had to swim. Si had warned us that when we got to the big lake, get in and when the cold hits, don’t panic and stay there for 15 seconds then swim. Because if the cold hits when you’re out of your depth, that’s when you get into trouble. But this wasn’t the big lake and we were already out of our depths. And the cold hit. Hard. We couldn’t breathe and couldn’t put our feet down. Honestly, we were scared. We’re very good swimmers but this wasn’t something we were used to. We had no choice but to swim as fast as we could for the shore, whilst feeling like we were suffocating. This was worse than panic attacks. Fortunately, there were ropes to pull ourselves up the other side. Then we ran across a field to get warm, but as the temperature was 10 degrees C, we couldn’t get warm.

There was a log wall which had a foot hold at the bottom and one near the top. When we stood on the bottom one, only our hands reached the top one, so we had to pull ourselves up and climb, which isn’t easy when it’s covered in wet mud. We hate heights. Our fear of heights is genuinely crippling. We can’t go above step 3 of a step ladder without going rigid. And this wall was high. Cat boosted Lynx and Wonder Woman from the other group of superheroes. We got to the top and a steward asked if we wanted help. Yes. This was fucking scary. He guided Lynx’s foot to the gap at the top then she climbed down and helped Cat and Wonder Woman. We then stayed to help another woman.

wolf run

water slide

We were so cold, wet and miserable that when we saw the 4k mark, we were disheartened. We thought we’d be at least over halfway. We were ready to quit. At 5K, there was another deep muddy lake called the mud sucker with a tree trunk in the middle to climb over. This water was up to our armpits. Then came more running, up a inclined field. We actually considered skipping the water slide because despite running for most of the way, by the time we reached it, we were shivering. You know that point of cold, where your teeth have chattered so much, your jaw locks. And we were only half an hour into the run. Cat’s broken finger was now in agony, due to the bandage being cold and wet. She couldn’t move it. By this point, we’d already decided we were skipping the lake, so we wanted to limit the amount of obstacles we missed. Wonder Woman advised us that as we were already frozen, it might be worth missing it, but if we’d regret that, then we should do it. She was actually concerned by how cold we were. We didn’t want to do it, but we didn’t want to feel any more like failures than we already did, so we went up. It was horribly high and you had to go down face first. We hate going down things face first, but there was no choice. Everyone else jumped on with glee. We stood there staring at it, wondering why the hell we were doing this. Suddenly, the medal and the free t-shirt didn’t seem worth it. We climbed up and slid down at terrifying speed. We crashed into the water at the bottom, totally blinded then ran like hell. Fuck pace, we had to get warm. We sprinted across the fields, overtaking all the other runners.

The Wolf RunOne of the obstacles we’d been looking forward to, was a rope up a slatted wall. We can climb poles easily, so figured it wouldn’t be a problem. It would’ve been fine, but rope burn on freezing hands was torture and we almost couldn’t do it. Not being able to bend a broken finger also added to Cat’s challenge. We forced ourselves to climb and we scaled the other side, our hands on fire. There were more muddy ponds and ditches filled with water to go through. There was probably about 1k woodland that we walked through. Not because we didn’t want to run (we were so cold that running became our favourite part), but because we couldn’t physically run in the mud without slipping. Everyone who was with us also walked, so we didn’t feel so bad. We saved a few people from falling over. When we got to the halfway point, people were standing around drinking and chatting. We ran on. If we stood still, we would’ve frozen to death. We had fun on a giant cargo net. The man beside us said “you really are Catwoman.” No, sir. Catwoman isn’t scared of heights.

We ran around the big lake. We couldn’t bear the thought of more cold water. We were gutted because we love swimming and thought this would be one of the easier aspects of the run. It would be a break from running.

wolf run

Cat escaping the ash hole

There were a set of tunnels under a log entrance, some of which had water in them. One didn’t. We queued for the one that didn’t. We love water, but we were sick at the sight of it. By those tunnels, a woman was sat to the side in a foil blanket. We weren’t the only ones struggling with the cold. One of the tunnels was full of water. A runner said someone had gone through that one. Cat “bet it was Si.” Fortunately, we were small enough to waddle through the tunnel, saving our knees from the stones that lined it.

Cat discarded her bandage, her finger now slightly blue. Wonder Woman had given us tips on how to warm our hands. We reached the monkey bars and Cat stood on a crate to reach them. And still couldn’t reach them. After trying, we gave up and ran on. When we envisioned issues we might have with the monkey bars – we’ve done them once in our lives – being too short to get on them, wasn’t one of them. There was a slatted wall that had no footholds. You had to jump, grab the top and go over. We watched people do it with ease. Cat ran, jumped, grabbed the top and slithered down. The wall was about five foot five. We’re five one. The steward took pity, came over and told us to stand on his thigh. Next was giant tyres you had to run over. We loved those. We also jumped a tyre wall. Then we were faced with hills and more

wolf run

final lake

muddy ditches and hills. Those we could do no problem and helped pull others up.

With 1k to go, we reached another lake. To say we were disheartened was an understatement. We couldn’t run around this one, and if someone had offered to take one of our kidneys without anesthetic, instead of going in the lake, we would’ve asked which kidney they wanted. “It’s only waist deep,” the steward assured people. Yes, it was. For men. It was shoulder deep on us. Boob deep when we stood on our toes. Again, the cold took our breaths. And the lake just didn’t bloody end. Then we came to a climbing wall. It was very high but we found this easy. It was our favourite obstacle. Steward at the top: “careful when you climb over, cos of where the bar might end up.” Cat climbs over. “Yep. Right in the vag.” We jumped down hay bales the other side and slithered over more muddy slides and ditches. We ducked or climbed under tree trunks and went through more slippery woodlands. We could see the start line but the finish line was getting further away.  We swear they were moving it.

Crawling through another set of tunnels was fine. We even picked the smallest ones, to leave the bigger ones for normal sized people. We had to crawl under a metal cage near the end. A steward offered us a hug or a high five. Desperate for body heat, we willingly hugged a stranger. He said we were his favourites. Spectators started cheering us on. Finally, we were faced with the nutcracker. We had to pull ourselves up with ropes, climb a cargo net, crawl across the top and climb down the other side. Dear god it was high. We then had to climb down giant logs. One problem – they were too far apart for our tiny legs. One steward said it was further than it looked and we just had to stretch. Lynx stretched her leg as far as it would go and was still  too far away. Luckily a woman on the ground offered to help and held Lynx’s leg, guiding her foot to the log as she pulled herself closer.

wolf run

Lynx’s face says it all

Wonder Woman met us on the final part. She said she’d been keeping an eye out for us throughout to make sure we were ok. We thanked her for all her help and pep talks. She really was a hero. She even invited us to join their group for the final photo as we’d lost our group. We slithered into the final stretch of muddy water. Everyone else waded through. We had to swim for the finish line. But we did it.

The stewards all loved our costumes. One even yelled “go fight crime!” after us. Even the runners complimented them. We ran it in two hours. We thought we’d finish feeling elated, proud of ourselves and in a fit of euphoria, sign up for the summer run. We didn’t. We felt deflated and vowed never to do it again. We expected it to be a challenge but that we’d enjoy it. We wanted to enjoy it. We were so cold, our hands were extremely painful and this made the obstacles difficult. We couldn’t warm up. We shivered, shook, and some of our muscles were rigid from the cold. Especially in our faces. Our facial muscles seized and we could barely talk. Towards the end, the cold was so bad, our feet felt like we were running on ropes. That was when we could feel them. We spent most of the run forgetting what they felt like. We’ve never been that cold and we went camping in Whitby in three degrees! We didn’t expect to run much but we ran for most of it. We had no choice. The running was actually easy for us, which we never thought it would be. And while we should’ve felt proud for doing high obstacles despite our crippling fear of heights, we didn’t. All we felt was scared. We hated them. But no-one else had a problem with them, which made us feel worse. And we were hugely disappointed with ourselves -and still are- for not attempting the lake. We’d really wanted to do it. But after experiencing the suffocating cold of the first swim, we’d decided for our own safety, it wasn’t worth it. And we haven’t forgiven ourselves for it. Especially cos our friends did it. So we felt weak and pathetic after that.

Wolf run

Swimming for the finish line

We dried and dressed in our car, forgoing the cold hose pipes outside. We’d had enough of cold water. We texted our mum and rang our sister to reassure them we hadn’t died. Dear god there was mud everywhere – even in places mud had no business being. Our new car now stank of stagnant water and was covered in mud. As soon as we were decent, we went to wait for the Sarahs. We took big towels to wrap them up in for when they finished.

The Wolf Run

The rest of our pack. L-r Si, Plum, Lynx, Cat, Alex

Part of us is tempted to sign up for the summer one, either this year or next year. Not because we enjoyed it – we didn’t – but because we feel the need for redemption. We were disappointed in ourselves by how scared we were of some of the obstacles. And we feel we let ourselves down by missing out the lake. We trained hard for this. We took up a sport we detested just to do this. We hated running so much that during training, we would have panic attacks while we ran. We try to tell ourselves that we had to break through some serious mental and physical barriers to finish – hell, going to an event with that many people would’ve been impossible a few years ago – but all we can think of is where we failed. That’s how our darkshines work. Battling our fear of heights and keeping going despite how cold, wet and miserable we were didn’t feel like an achievement at all. It felt like a failure because no-one else had a problem with it. Everyone else finished smiling, laughing and looking like they genuinely had fun. We’ve had more fun during tooth extractions. And it turns out, the medals are only for Alpha wolves – those who do four Wolf Runs in a year.

wolf run

finished!

We are now considering going for the Alpha Wolf. We want those medals. But there’s one issue with doing it – we have to keep running.

wolf run

At the finish line

1 Comment

  1. […] He put one against Cat then gave it to Sarah C (you may remember her from our last post about the Wolf Run.) He returned with shorter boards for us. Cat “are we getting children’s boards?” […]


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