Alpha Wolf Challenge - Interview with Stewart Hunt
Achieving Alpha Wolf is a significant achievement and the Ultimate Challenge for the year. Over 2000 of our Wolf Runners challenge themselves to complete Alpha each year, and we wanted to find out why! We have interviewed Stewart Hunt, to find out more about his journey with the Wolf Run and what inspired him to not only complete Alpha, but to be a double alpha, by running both days at each event this year!!
When did you first take part in a Wolf run and what inspired you to do so?
My first Wolf run was on April 27, 2014 at 11am. I’ve been into fitness all my life; participating in Kung Fu for over 30 years and also the normal gym training. However I’m always up for trying something different. I was reading a trail running magazine and saw an article talking about OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) which really got me interested, so I did a search on google to find an OCR in my local area. I looked at a few, but it was the Wolf run that appealed to me the most because of the location and the challenge. It also looked like a lot of fun too, so I signed up. When I completed that first Wolf run, it was such an awesome experience I realised that all of my fitness levels were challenged. I also knew I could do better, so I set about upping my training and I signed up to do the remaining Wolf runs that year. I suppose that was my first unofficial Alpha Wolf, but when the Wolf run team advertised that first Alpha Wolf challenge in 2015, I was all over it, and I’ve been doing them ever since.
Double Alpha is a huge challenge; what is your reason for doing this?
Well as I mentioned, after doing my first Wolf run, I’ve been absolutely mad for Wolf runs and OCR’S ever since. This year was my 50thbirthday and I wanted to set myself a physical and mental challenge. As you know if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you, so I signed up for 16 OCR races and I wanted the Wolf run to be a big part of it. I thought as I’ve done the Alpha Wolf a few times, how can I make that more of a challenge. I then decided that’s it, I’ll run it both days and you know what…. I’ve loved every minute of it.
Are you fundraising and if so, what for?
No, I am not fund raising this time but it’s certainly something to think about for any future OCR adventures.
Has partaking in the Alpha challenge changed your life in any way, e.g. motivating your training, weight loss, inspired nutrition etc.?
Participating in the Alpha challenges has totally changed my approach to keeping in shape. When I did my first wolf run in 2014, I was 2.5 stone heavier than I am now. Signing up to doing the alpha wolf and other OCR’s every year keeps me, my training and nutrition in check.
Committing to the Alpha wolf validates my fitness and I think it’s good to do that otherwise fitness can become a bit boring. Being fit has to have a purpose for me and the wolf runs do exactly that. Great obstacle races, enables you to test all of your functions, and encourages you to conquer your fears. You have to climb, crawl, swim, run, jump and balance as you negotiate your way through the mud and the great outdoors. Either on your own or with your mates, it creates memories forever, and it is a lot of fun too. My children love OCR’s and we have done quite a few together, so now that the wolf run has created one for the children, I shall be doing that one with my little wolf cubs no doubt.
Do you have a favourite wolf run season and what would be your favourite obstacle?
All ofthe Wolf run seasons are awesome because they all have their different challenges that seasons bring. However, if I was to choose a favourite, it would have to be the Winter Wolf.
When you embark on the journey of Alpha Wolf which starts in April, and that can be just as cold, everyone is all fired up and ready to tackle it because it’s the first one of the year. Seasonally, the clocks have changed, the mornings are lighter and we all feel a lot more energised and we know we are moving towards the summer months.
In order to complete the Alpha though, you have to tackle that tough Winter Wolf which can be a real challenge. After the warm Summer and the Autumn Wolf you start to get that seasonal change and you have to keep colds at bay. You also need to prevent any injury’s as you continue to prepare and stay on it for that day.
As for my favourite obstacle, it has to be the waterslide which always has to be done twice, whether I am running alone or with my team Junglefit. I also love the monkey bars; those two are just great. All of the obstacles are absolutely fantastic though, along with all of the mud suckers. I love them all!
The courses at both locations are really well designed and challenge you on all levels.
What advice would you give to a first time wolf?
If you are embarking on a wolf run for the first time, that’s fantastic. Now I know there are a lot of people who don’t train for these events and that’s okay, but I think that a little preparation can enhance your experience of the challenge you signed up for. Plus it can go a long way to help aid recovery. Start by going for a jog or a run around a park or anywhere off road. This will help to strengthen ankles and legs and build endurance. Then stick to some simple and effective body weight exercises like star jumps, full or kneeling press ups, squats, mountain climbers, sit ups, pull ups if you can, and yes burpees and bear crawls too; these will really help.
Also work on your grip strength as this helps build your confidence to hold on when climbing walls, nets or monkey bars. You can use a house brick for some pinch grip practice or just hang from a bar. Alternatively you can get a stress ball, but if you don’t want to buy one you can make one. Get an old sock and put some dried rice into it, tie the end and a way you go.
Do as much as you can when you can. Don’t make it too complicated or you won’t stick to it, but come event day, you will be glad you did. When you cross that finishing line, it is such a fantastic feeling you will be ready and wanting to sign up for your first alpha.
Do you have a favourite wolf run shirt?
I love all of the wolf run shirts. They are designed to stand out and tell everyone of your achievement, but any shirt for me which has the tree graphics and the wolf claw marks on just looks awesome. I have got and love the tree graphics base layer too which has wolf run on the sleeves. It is great to train in and looks cool. The fantastic edition of the wolf run snoods that you get when you register is an awesome extra, and I wear mine all of the time.
Will you be back for more?
Will I be back for more…?? That’s like asking “does bacon go with eggs”… of course I will, definitely and without question. It was the wolf run that started me on my journey and my love for OCR’s, so I won’t stop doing them. I have already used your brilliant bronze packages and have signed up for another double alpha in 2020. The wolf run will always be on my event calendar, that’s why I’ve done 26 to date. I think if you want to challenge yourself or have a goal to get fit, or have some fun with your friends, get yourself signed up and tell everyone about it. That way you are committed to the challenge and before you know it, it will be you enjoying that alpha wolf accolade.