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Friday 27 November 2015

Walking on Fire

'Take a deep breath and just walk,' Scott calmly told us as we queued barefoot with around 90 others on a dark and wet November evening. We were about to walk across fire burning at a temperature of 1500°F. That's HOT.

On Friday 13 November I completed my first ever fire walk, ticking off no.30 on my 40/40 project list and raising funds for local charity – Penny Brohn Cancer Care.

I’d actually been dreading it ALL day. I can’t remember the last time I’d felt so nervous about something.  I started to wonder – why on earth did I put this on my list? Mr CA on the other hand was as cool as a cucumber and not flustered by the thought of it one bit. I'd roped him in to join me you see...

The weather all afternoon was atrocious – hail, wind and rain so I was thinking to myself – I’m sure it will be cancelled! I held a small hope that I’d get an email saying it was to be postponed.  Nothing like that happened though and soon enough we were sitting with a whole bunch of other ‘Fire Walkers' having our Fire Walk training by Scott Bell. Scott is a bit of a Firewalking expert being THE Guinness book record holder for walking the furthest distance on Fire. OK I thought. This chap knows what he’s doing.

The training, which lasted about an hour, covered all kinds of things including some interesting facts (I love a good fact!) about fire walking in other countries and how it has been a part of some cultures for thousands of years. In Bulgaria for example each year all the girls in one particular village (no idea where!) are put inside a church and the wooden door burnt. The hot ashes are then spread out on the ground and the girls have to walk out across the hot coals. Any girls who get blisters are apparently not virgins!! I wonder …..do the boys of the village have to go through this too…..!? Curious!

Just across the border in Greece, some northern Greek villagers walk barefoot across a bed of burning wood coals as part of a three-day celebration in honour of two saints. Everyone gets in on the act and on the 23 May each year a massive circle of fiery hot coals are spread out for everyone to walk on. All ages. Nothing about virgins or rites of passage at this event.  

The story goes that a local church caught fire and a passer-by could hear screams coming from inside. They got closer but couldn’t see anyone and yet they could still hear screams and crying. They burst into the church and ran through the flames and smoke to discover that it was the two effigies of Saint Constantine and Saint Helen who were crying out to be saved. They were scooped up and taken out of the church and no one was hurt. 

Scott also shared with us how is it possible to walk across hot coals and not get burnt. Without spoiling it – there is a science to it. It's not a case of Mind over matter and if you spend all the time thinking ‘I’m walking on wet grass – you actually miss out on the real experience. If you are interested in the details – I’ll let you go google to find out.  I’ll say this though – you can’t dawdle or stop as then you will get burnt!

After the training we all bundled outside to finally Face the Fire! This was IT! Oh Heck, no backing out now….

We were towards the back of the line so watched quite a few go before us. They all seemed remarkably calm. I can Totally Do this I thought!

Then it was my go.

As I took my first few steps remembering to wipe my feet on the grass first, I didn’t feel anything. It just felt soft. I was surprised (and a bit disappointed). I could feel the heat on my arms from the fire but my feet? Nothing. I needed to do it again. The second time I walked a little slower and as I got towards the end I could feel some very hot parts on my feet. I wiped my feet on the grass at the end to get rid of any bits of coals that may have been stuck to my feet. I felt something that time.

Mr CA was trying to take a video of me – but unfortunately he had it on the wrong setting so this meant I had to do it again. Third time.

This time I took a really deep breath and focused on each step. The Prodigy – Firestarter – Twisted Firestarter blared out of the speakers and there was a buzz as the audience watched. I stepped onto the hot coals which were both black and red in equal measure.  It was soft and like warm sand. The sparks were flying as the wind blew them all around me. It looked pretty amazing.  This time as I walked I could feel some hot spots on my feet. Once at the other side wiping my feet I suddenly felt amazed and rather elated.

Not only had I walked on fire after feeling rather freaked out about it all day I’d done it THREE times! WHOOO HOOO!

How often does THAT happen in other areas of life? You know, once you actually get up and DO IT it's never as bad as it seems??

With black sooty feet we made our way back into the Rugby Club to collect our certificates, clean our feet and put on our shoes. The rain started again as we stepped inside – having stopped long enough for nearly 100 people to have walked across fire – and lived to tell the tale.

Once inside I could feel those hot spots still on my feet and my right foot in particular. On closer inspection I could see and feel that I had two very small blisters on my right foot near my heel.

Oh I thought – some physical evidence! I felt thankful I wasn’t Bulgarian.

My coat, hat and scarf still smell smokey. My feet are fine and having walked on fire - THREE TIMES (in case you missed that bit earlier) I'm thinking hmmm what else can I do?

A MASSIVE Thank YOU to everyone who has sponsored us so far! If you haven't and you think that was a pretty cool challenge and would like to support the amazing work of Penny Brohn please do!  I set up a dedicated sponsor page. Thank you x

Tell me, is there something you want to do but fear is holding you back?

Let’s talk!

Love & Adventurers

L-R Team Penny Brohn! With the other brave Firewalkers, Richard (Mr CA) and I with our certificates, Celebrating with a cuppa tea and a muffin! (of course..)

The event was run by UK Firewalk and hosted by Clevedon Rugby Club as part of a Clevedon Community Charity event. Some of the photos are a mix of my own, UK Firewalk and some were taken by the fabulous Penny Brohn Fundraising Team.

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