APPARENTLY, I’m competitive. I say ‘apparently’ because this is something that I’ve only recently come to realise about myself. Hello, my name is Nik and I am...competitive. They say admitting it is the hardest part.
My moment of revelation came this weekend when my friends and I travelled to Richmond in North Yorkshire to take part in the Krypton Factor Assault Course.
I was already quaking in my boots when we arrived there, to be greeted by a stocky drill sergeant type with tiny eyes and a ferocious moustache. No sooner had we thrown on overalls and helmets than he began shouting orders and 12 30-year-olds were immediately transported back to the days of school PE lessons.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I was scared; scared of ending up at the back and letting down my team, what if I couldn’t hack it? What if I wasn’t fit enough? What if I froze up, or - even worse - acted like a complete girl and showed myself up in front of everybody?
The teams were boys v girls and the course kicked off with a 40ft zipwire. I hate heights, absolutely HATE them. I waited for Mister Sergeant Man to kindly enquire which weak-stomached among us would prefer to give this bit a miss but he must have forgotten as, after grabbing me and tying me into a harness, I was pushed towards a 40ft pole and told to climb. It wasn’t a request.
I figured I’d get to the small ledge at the top and THEN decide whether or not I was going to do it. At the top, I was greeted by another scary army chap who immediately began unclipping and reclipping various parts of my equipment while I clung to the pole I’d just climbed for dear life. The drop was big and it was sheer terror that flooded my veins. I was desperately trying to figure out how I could get back down, since the next member of my team was already halfway up the pole behind me, when someone tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘go.’
Go? As in, step off this ledge...onto nothing? Was he crazy? I darted panicked looks around me, trying to find someone I could pull aside and explain there’d been some terrible mistake to, but there was no one. There was nothing else for it. With the clock ticking and my heart in my mouth, I steeled myself...and jumped.
What a rush! On the ground, pure adrenalin hit me as my team members dropped around me like soldiers parachuting into a war zone. After doing THAT, I wasn’t about to let six cocky boys beat us!
“Let’s go!” I screamed as I ran like mad towards the next obstacle. I vaulted, ducked and then hit the ground running. At the tunnel, I threw myself to my chest in six inches of muddy water and clambered through, then turned to yank out each team member as they followed closely behind me.
As we cheered one another across the rope swing, then helped one another over the balance beams, I instructed my team to ‘breathe deep’ and catch their breath while they could. “Visualise that finish line,” I cried melodramatically. (I know, I know - who died and made me team captain?)
Eight minutes later, and over the final hurdle, we sprinted like hell for the finish line with me screaming ‘run’ the whole way, in the stylings of Jenny to childhood buddy Forrest Gump.
We lost to the boys by three sodding minutes.
But we’ll get them next time. Oh yes. Mark my words. We WILL get them next time...