Woke up on Saturday morning, feeling sick with dread. Went to collect some medals I’d had made up for the participants (I felt they should have something to remind them of the day), then my sister, my mam and I went to my auntie’s house for a pre-event worrying session. My mam was cool as a cucumber, unlike the rest of us. My friend, Sarah, was in touch via text, and also seemed pretty calm. None of this helped me, as I was filled with absolute dread and barely managed to eat all day.
Against expectations, I slept well on Saturday night, but woke at 5.30am. I got really upset and tearful when I realised that I’d somehow have to make it from the car park/registration area under the bridge, to the top of the bridge. I have difficulty with staircases, and find them exhausting. It had suddenly dawned on me that my fundraising event may be over before it had begun. Cue further tears.
Had a bath and two Hovis crackers (all I could stomach), then had a call to say one of our team was ill and couldn’t make it. A last minute volunteer was quickly located (my sister’s friend, although hungover, agreed to fill in) and then it was off to my mam’s to meet my auntie. I knew as soon as I got to my mam’s house that I wasn’t going to be able to go through with it. They were all pretty relaxed, and I was the exact opposite.
When we got to Newcastle and saw the Tyne Bridge, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go through with it. It’s so bloomin’ high! We parked under the bridge and another group were just getting kitted up to do their abseil. Sarah was already at the Sage, so we headed up the path to meet her in the cafe. I made the mistake of stopping mid-way to watch the abseil that was underway. The participants were almost at 90 degrees to the bridge. I knew, for certain, that I couldn’t go through with it, as I have trouble with my neck/shoulders so knew I could never maintain that position. I felt so ill at the thought of letting people down.
We went in for coffee (Sage prices: dear, in our opinion). Couldn’t believe Sarah was sitting there with something sweet and cakey, when I couldn’t even manage a sip of coffee. Lyndsey was eating a bacon sandwich, and there was an air of joviality. Then there was me, rigid in my seat, overcome by terror. Then it was time to register, and off we went to the loo. I wonder how many of us toyed with the idea of pretending to be locked in.
The team from ACE (Adventure Challenge Events) were absolutely fantastic. I’m sure they even took on board my suggestion for an Imodium stand in conjunction with their registration desk. I asked them about a million questions, and they probably thought I was a complete idiot, but were very patient. I told them that I usually cross the bridges with my eyes closed, which was a little dangerous, as I drive a bus. One of the Instructors, didn’t immediately realise I was joking, and seemed quite surprised! Even when I was being fitted with my helmet, harness and gloves, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do the abseil. Then, it was time.