Training and Competition: Doing The Wolverine 5K

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A while back — probably five or six years ago — I remember first hearing about the Wolverine 5K Tactical Adventure Race and thought it would be cool to take part. Of course I was in substantially better shape then than I am now and having participated to exhaustion in the 2020 W5K, I have some acquired wisdom and points to consider for you extreme athletes out there.

I ended up covering the event in a single article for a print publisher and, while it covered the general parameters of the event, I felt that this year it would be a good idea to break it down for more of an in-depth look at gear selection, training, and thoughts about what these competitions are really like…even down to the nitty gritty like how much water I consumed and mistakes I made in clothing.

The general idea behind the Wolverine 5K is a hybrid of a shooting competition and athleticism, with shooting being the main draw for the crowd here at TTAG. The event as I experienced it was vastly different than the one I had prepared for. As for why that is, I’ll get to that later.

The event itself is hosted at the Marksmanship Training Center in Lake City, Michigan. I am from Michigan myself and this range is where I go for a good deal of my content production.

I will be doing a range review of the MTC complex in the near future, as there is far too much to cover here. It is arguably one of the most difficult 1000+ yard ranges to shoot and the range provides a huge challenge to even the most skilled shooters. Many famous ballistics experts shoot at MTC and collect data there.

The range is a large honeycomb of facilities, and it has enough ranges to make it creative, from point-blank shoot houses to multi-level angled ramps to shoot from. The shooting portion of the event is extremely difficult and involves nothing like what you see a typical 3-Gun match. At one stage last year you had to shoot a bow, throw knives, and pick a lock.

The theme of the event isn’t Wolverines as in the U of M Wolverines, but rather the ‘Red Dawn’ kind. Each stage is based on a part of the movie and, while it’s not spot-on, fans of the greatest director of all time, John Milius, will love it for the little details.

Milius is of course famous for his work on movies like ‘Conan the Barbarian,’ ‘Jeremiah Johnson,’ and ‘Apocalypse Now,’ as well as for allegedly being the inspiration for Walter Sobchak. But if you look into his filmography and general stances on the world you’ll come away with a new appreciation for him due to the fact that he’s an authentic Hollywood gun guy and one of the most influential writers and directors in American gun culture.

Why You Should Take Part

The W5K site describes the competition this way . . .

This “Red Dawn” themed tactical adventure race is a test of orienteering skills , athletic speed and endurance, tactical tasks handling, and diverse marksmanship skills.  Athletes of this race may register solo or as a 4 person team in Hardcore or Recreational class.  This event is a cumulative time & time penalty score based event.  Your base score is your start/stop time of the 5K orienteering courses.  The shooting and tactical task stages are scored to reward/penalize your baseline time. 

This is really just the introduction to my series here on the Wolverine 5K and I’ll be getting into it as this month goes on leading up to the event on June 5 where I’ll try to make a reasonable effort to update these pages live if internet access is available to me.

If you consider yourself an athlete who likes to shoot — not the reverse — this is your event. You will need to be in top physical shape and not be prone to injury, fatigue, or frustration. This is a fun event, but it is probably one of the most difficult of its kind.

You’ll be carrying a 25 lb pack for the entire 5K portion, even more if you compete in the hardcore division. The race this year is, I believe, 5K on water and 5K on land, so it’s more of a 10K. This means wet gear and soaked shoes. I am probably taking at least two pairs of boots with me and many extra socks. I didn’t do that last year and the skin was peeling off my feet due to incorrect sock choice.

The shooting portion is also a challenge, and its probably not at all like what you’re used to. Most people never fire an AR one handed while dragging a rope. Most people never flip a tractor tire and then have to draw and fire. This will strain the fittest among the competitors, so if you think you’re tough enough to finish, this is a good chance to prove it.

The requirements for gear are pretty open-ended. You’ll mandatorily need a pistol and holster and a carbine of some kind. These will be with you for the majority of the event. In addition to that, a precision rifle is required and this gun, as far as I understand, will be used for just a couple of events and won’t need to be transported to every stage. I hope.

As this series goes on, I’ll be talking more about my individual gear selection based on what I learned the hard way from last year. This event is hard to ‘game’ meaning that the events are intentionally made to test you and there isn’t much good that drills will do you.

I will be outlining my choices in equipment that I believe will give me the best chance of success, and I’ll try to avoid making the same mistakes as last year.

I was pretty beat by the end.

If you want more information on this event, visit this page.

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  1. This looks awesome. I mean don’t get me wrong I would probably be near death after the first half but still it is good to get out of your comfort zone. I hope events like this start appearing all around the US. But Michigan isn’t that far of a drive for me.

  2. Cosplay for POTG, I suppose?

  3. Kinda cool but after the last article by this author, at this point, I’d stick with the Fink… specifically to avoid the author.

    Let your fitness slip? You’ll be out of the Fink in a few hours on Day 1. 5K “endurance” race? Try 40-60 miles carrying all your shit with you plus the shooting stages and challenges.

    • Oh I forgot. no leather boots anymore. That damned sht Rocky boot stuff just makes blisters. Your oughta luck cause you got fancy.
      Carry more socks.

      • Wouldn’t your claws wear the boots from the inside and essentially half the lifetime of the boot anyway?

        Although, I suppose you could keep them around for a snack if you can’t find a dead guy. Possums eat boots right? Or is that goats?

  4. I always envisioned an Urban Biathalon where one roller blades inline skates through an urban wasteland engaging targets with hi-cap .45s, .40s or 9 mm handguns. Plenty of on the go reloads, etc. it’s great when shooting is fun.

  5. I see AKs here. That is good.

    The last “tactical games” held where I live strictly limited rifle ammo to only 5.56. I’m not interested in playing with some 22 caliber poodle shooter.

    • Yeah, I’d like to be able to use my Grendel for more carbine competitions.
      We have a “Biathlon” of sorts here in central Texas, too, that’s pretty fun.
      WTF competition, if I remember correctly.

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