Firewalk Fundraiser: Flaming 'eck!

By Londonist Last edited 107 months ago
Firewalk Fundraiser: Flaming 'eck!
Final preparations
Final preparations
Londonist writer Caroline shows no fear
Londonist writer Caroline shows no fear
A post-firewalk foot
A post-firewalk foot
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The first person braves the coals
The first person braves the coals
It's getting hot in herre
It's getting hot in herre
Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
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A pre-walk pep talk by the organisers
A pre-walk pep talk by the organisers
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Controlling the flames
Controlling the flames

Last night, the London's Air Ambulance Fundraising Firewalk went off without injury and with much respect for the brave participants. News is they've raised around £3000 so far but surely they deserve your support to bump that up a little? They WALKED ON FIRE for goodness sake. Our own Caroline braved the burning embers - read her story then please donate to this brilliant London cause via her Justgiving page..

"I have a healthy respect for fire, it cooks my steaks, warms my house and, most importantly, really fricking hurts if I get too close. Thus, despite being keen to raise much-needed funds for London's Air Ambulance, I was apprehensive walking through the door of the Cock and Dragon last night. A cool pint of Dutch courage would have really calmed my nerves, but alcohol was forbidden before the walk so my desperate yearning towards the bar was rewarded only with perturbed looks from the bar staff.

After registration came a two hour briefing session, which all potential firewalkers have to go through before they are allowed to cross the embers. Blaze insist that the details of this session are kept private but it essentially covered the physics behind firewalking - which are readily available on the internet - and then focused on removing the mental barriers which would have prevented us from doing the walk. As if we would have had any qualms about treading on something burning at 1236*…. *gulp*

By the end of the session, I could feel the adrenalin buzzing through my body and actually felt like racing back to the pub so that I could get on with the challenge. Everyone in the group was similarly hyped up, and the enthusiasm was exhilarating, although I'm sure that we scared more than a few pedestrians with our whooping noises on the way back!

My complacency quickly vanished, however, as we drew close enough to smell the fire. That burning odour, something which I'd always associated with barbecues in the sunshine, suddenly conjured up disconcerting images of my feet sizzling on a grill instead. Panic made a brief re-appearance as I caught sight of the long swathe of burning embers, glowing brightly and emitting orange sparks into the darkness. It looked incredibly pretty, but an off-puttingly fierce heat was tangible from several metres away.

Almost before I knew it my trousers were rolled up, my shoes were in a bush and I was teetering on the edge of the embers, looking down the black strip which had been tapped down with a spade prior to our walk. I took the first step almost involuntarily, and though I could feel the heat around my foot the surface underneath felt more like a smooth block of ice. With each progressive step my brain registered that something was wrong, but the adrenalin from the training and the knowledge that I really couldn't hang around kept me going all the way to the end, and the speed with which I reached the cool grass agaain came as a surprise. I was relieved to find that my feet didn't hurt afterwards, although they did tingle as though my skin had been slapped by something very cold. Many people compare the experience to walking over a hot beach, but I would say that the latter is actually far more painful, perhaps as the surface is less solid.

The overall experience was fun and empowering, and the fact that we were raising money for charity made it even better. I would do it again in an instant, although next time I think I'll bring something to wash my feet with afterwards!"

All donations gratefully received by London's Air Ambulance.

Photography by Dean Nicholas. Words and Firewalking by Caroline Roddis.

Last Updated 02 September 2009