I am 70
next year, an alpha male and a trustee of the
LIFE charity. What could I do that would
be memorable and useful? Of course, the
Wolf Run! It is a 10k wild run through
Woods, Obstacles, Lakes
and Forests. Some
thought I was brave, others thought I was mad
– I thought I would be tested.
So last November, I bought a pair of fancy Asics running shoes, shorts, socks, trousers and a hi-vis top. That was easy. Then I started training – once round the village in 8 minutes, but within two weeks, that was down to 6 minutes. Then twice round the village in 15 minutes, then down to 12. I was getting fitter. Then longer runs of 5k along the boring Cwmrheidol road or up in the beautiful Nant yr Arian hills. I added in some gruelling interval training and a little more distance running. My times were tumbling so much that I had to check the accuracy of my stopwatch. I could run 5k around the hill trail in less than 30 minutes and 10k on the flat in about 55 minutes. I ran in the rain and wind, and even while away in Birmingham and Reading.
All this stress and strain bought on some injuries, but for the aspiring athlete these are regarded as mere badges of honour. I had a shoulder problem, a bad case of iliotibial band (ITB) pain, a dodgy left knee, earache, suspected asthma and finally a more serious case of ankle strain. I saw the most supportive physiotherapists, GPs, nurses, A&E doctors and X-ray technicians. Such bodily setbacks acted as spurs. Strengthening exercises and careful workouts overcame them all. I cut back to running just three times a week, with every Sunday as a welcome rest day. When I could not run, I swam for a statutory 16 or more lengths to keep up the cardio-vascular exercise. I was getting (almost) seriously fit. Psychologically, I never doubted I could rise to this Wolf Run challenge.
And so it came to pass, that on Saturday 11 June, there I was among some five thousand others in the grounds of the Stanford Hall, Leicester to be tried and tested. My support team of Wendy, six of the grandchildren and their parents were there to root for me. And my 11 colleagues from LIFE made up our fearsome Wolf Pack.
At 12.40, our staggered-time group of about 150 runners were off. Within 20 seconds we were waist deep in cold water, then over logs and tractor tyres and mud and more mud, and so on for the next three hours. Perhaps the most difficult section was the Mudsucker – a 100 metres of mire that literally sucked some up to their knees and for a few even dangerously higher. The trickiest obstacle for me was the 5-metre wall consisting of horizontal poles with almost no toeholds. But the whole venture was a team effort and I was grateful for a friendly pull here and a push there. And, of course, there were hollows to slide down and hillocks to scramble up, plus streams to wade along and lakes to swim across. Was I having fun!
Then the finish line appeared. Cheers all round, hugs and delight. The entire LIFE Wolf Pack had completed the Wolf Run – and we have the t-shirts and wristbands to prove it. And we have raised at least £7,500 for the LIFE charity. Good work Emma, Alice, Beckie, Margaret, Roopa, Ira, Sophie, Stephen, Tom, Stuart, Jez and me.
[Postscript: I'm pleased so say that the generosity of many has meant that I have passed my £1,000 target. And incidentally, I was the fifth oldest runner over the Summer Wolf Run weekend.]