It was two thirty in the morning and the only light I had, came from my head torch. I’d stopped at the last checkpoint for just ten minutes. Any longer and I knew I wouldn’t be able to start again. I had sat with a baked potato, poking at it, trying to convince myself to eat but knowing I’d be sick if I did. Then I was walking again, although you couldn’t really call it walking, hobbling maybe. I carried two sticks and jabbed them into the ground to try and keep my balance.
I followed the luminous arrow into the woods and once again was completely alone. I felt fear creeping in around face and wrists, where bare skin was exposed and a shiver shot through my body. I tried to block out it out with the earbuds of my iPod, a story about a man finding himself and with it, love, but how could I hear if someone was behind me or hiding in the branches?
I had been walking for nearly 18 hours. My heels were encompassed by swollen blisters, full of fluid and my skin hurt from the cold air and sweaty body heat. The ground was thick with tree roots and I fell between thin trees and broken ground. I prayed that I’d see another arrow soon, to tell me that I wasn’t lost.
I heard a noise from my side and froze. I’d already switched my iPod off but could hear my heart pounding. My mind raced, is that an animal? Is it a person? What’s behind them? In the darkness my brain showed me the outline of a man, hiding against a tree, then another crouching and ready to leap. I stumbled forwards again. Hallucinations, that’s all it is, exhaustion that’s all. Keep stepping. Every step, is a step closer, don’t stop. Keep stepping. Keep stepping. Keep stepping.
At four thirty in the morning it had started to get light and a yellowish grey haze appeared over the world. I had been walking for twenty hours but still didn’t feel any closer.
The land had opened up around me and a path led me through a valley. Pain ached through my body and my control over my emotions disappeared. I was still alone and as I walked, tears fell down my cheeks to the ground.
At nine forty and after nearly twenty five hours of walking, I saw the finish line.
Cheering, clapping, a medal placed around my neck and a plastic glass of champagne in my hand. Relief, exhaustion, sickness. I was led to the car, fell slumped into the passenger seat and immediately I was asleep.
People tell me that I’m crazy or stupid for taking on challenges beyond my current capabilities but I raised over thirteen hundred pounds and I learnt more about myself in that twenty four hours than any other twenty four hours of my life.
The money was donated, as planned to Saying Goodbye. The charity support mums like me, whose babies died before they were born. Mum’s like me that would have done anything for their children. Mum’s like me that, didn’t get the chance to meet their children but like any other parent would have taken a bullet for them.
When people say I’m crazy, I normally respond with a smile and agree but what I really want to say is, “Is there anything that you wouldn’t do for your baby?”
Originally published at www.imustnow.com on January 31, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com