When I started to think up the idea of Ignite Your Lion Heart, it developed from the idea of me doing Go Ape.
Ever since we started fundraising for baby loss charities, I knew it would be the thing that, for me, would be beyond challenging. I’m not a runner, I can’t ride a bike – so whilst tackling the norms of a run or bike ride would still be a challenge, Go Ape would be full of fear and apprehension. Really full of it.
Just looking at the YouTube videos made me cry. The idea of doing it seemed so far from ever being possible, so I needed to surround it with a bigger project. It couldn’t just me be pushing myself this far, I’d never do it alone so I needed to drag others in for the ride too…!
I bit the bullet, and booked it and then ignored it until the days leading up to doing it. I avoided planning for it, thinking about it, or even working out what time we would need to leave the house to get there. I felt so sick when we arrived, the heights coupled with the jumps and also being told that it could last 2-3 hours… all of it sounded horrendous.
I knew that once I got used to the feeling, I would be okay but the first hurdle of just getting up there felt so daunting.
We harnessed up, had a briefing from the Go Ape crew member (Max, who was incredibly at helping me feel safe), and got to have a go on the demo run to get used to clipping and unclipping our carabiners . It felt like a lot of information to take it, especially when I was close to loosing my grip on anxiety but once we had a practice we got in the flow of it all.
We did four sections, each with a ladder to start and a zip line to end. My wife went first, to help give me some pointers if I needed them on any of the crossings and we had friends and family on the ground watching and cheering us on – and giving us the important heads up of how close we were to the zip line!
One of the hardest bits was the first swing. I really didn’t want to jump – this is where all my trust in safety equipment falls apart. I bent down ready to go maybe four, five times. Eventually, because our friends little boy shouted “Come on Jess!” I jumped!
These things are a bit like life – the apprehension is horrible, but when you do it, it feels really good to overcome the challenge. The Zip Lines became be favourite bit, being able to just make one split decision to jump and then the rest is taken care off. Whereas the bridges and other sections really require your full effort for the whole way, little by little.
The sections that I hated the most where the ones with the most amount of movements – I hate the feeling of instability under my feet. They all took a few steps to understand how best to navigate them and eventually I would get into a flow and it would start to feel okay. The ladders, and the platforms were quite nerve wracking too because there really wasn’t a great deal of space to move around them.
After the fourth section, physically I could have stopped. I was getting tired and a bit fed up of climbing ladders! But I knew we had to do the fifth section. Whilst I could have stopped, I would have regretted it instantly. So on we went. With each section, it got higher or more challenging, so whilst we built our confidence and flow – each bit was another hurdle to overcome.
When we finally got to the final platform and the last zip line – it felt awesome to know that WE DID IT. I DID IT. I really wanted to shout Leo’s name from the Zip Line but for some reason, I didn’t it. If I ever do a Zip Line again (Wales, with your giant Zip Line, I’m looking at you), I will though, because I’m a bit gutted that I missed that chance to shout his name to the sky!
I’m so proud of myself for tackling it. The thought of doing it still makes me feel a bit wobbly, but thanks to all the pictures and the videos, I can always look back and show myself that I achieved the thing that I never thought possible!
The lovely Max gave us all the certificates and stickers, and I bought myself a medal (for the junior course) because I BLOODY DESERVED A MEDAL.
There’s no rest though… Onwards to Swim Serpentine for the next part of my Ignite Your Lion Heart challenge.
If you fancy watching the short (4 mins!) video of our Go Ape adventure, its over on You Tube here.