I know my fate may well have been sealed had my first left-footed step not landed on solid mud as I tried to escape. Quite literally, I’d have been boiled alive, from the feet up. The hottest part of the vent was but 2 metres to my left, churning over a furious broth of grey fluid mud in what resembled a small water fountain, and a semi-circle of bubbling mud puddles extended behind me.
Through a mental blizzard of thoughts of disbelief, I carried my body to the treeline while screaming. An hour later I was lying, shivering severely, in a hospital emergency ward. Amidst the formalities medical staff required at that most inconvenient time, a different conversation seemed to be taking over amongst them: one about amputation.
It’s been 10 days now. I still have both feet, although they’ve had scalpels and surgical scissors cutting gouges of boiled flesh and skin away from that which remains healthy. The pain in my legs never disappears for long. My body is aching from being bed-ridden. But I’m recovering.
Having heard several doctors tell me I’m fortunate to be alive frightened me. Hearing that others have made the same mistake, and at least one individual’s remains have never been retrieved from the boiling local volcanic bowels terrified me.
Through it all, though, I won’t let this cause me to lose sight of my aim. I’m chasing yet another world record title, and I have no intention of stopping that!