Chris left home on Thursday at 3.15pm to head to Manchester for the Pairs where he was representing Peterborough, he text me when he arrived a bit later than planned due to traffic.
The meeting was being streamed on BSN, I don’t always watch the streams live due to the children’s bedtime, and usual evening chaos, but this time believe it or not both Amara-Mae & Cruz were asleep by 7pm following a busy half term week with family visiting from Cornwall, so I jumped in the shower, grabbed a drink and sat down to watch the stream at 7.30pm on my own.
Chris messaged me his usual messages before the racing started, I watched on and the meeting produced some decent racing and Chris was having a good night. I was feeling calm at this point. Chris then called me after the qualifying heats to tell me about the short delay saying they couldn’t work out which team should progress to the semi-final as the 3 teams tied on the same points. Following a debate and a ballot pick Peterborough were put through and Chris was out on track for the semi-final.
So the Semi-Final is on and Chris and Benjamin were holding strong for 2nd & 3rd place which would give Peterborough the spot in the final, and Chris was racing like he usually does with his never give up attitude and I just kept thinking ‘just stay where you are, you’ve made it to the final’ and then I could see Doyley trying to slow the race down so his team mate Erik could try and snatch the 3rd place away from Benjamin, and just at the point my evening turned upside down when Chris hit a berm in the middle of the track in turn 4 on the last lap that sent him out wide into the loose dirt which sent him onto the air fence whilst he was still on the bike and then he was thrown onto the track like a ragdoll and hit the deck.
I gasped as I watched him take off and hit the deck, but then the panic attack set in when he didn’t move – it’s the first time I’ve seen him crash and he hasn’t moved. What felt like forever, was approx. 40 seconds before he moved his leg. My heart was racing so fast that I thought I was going to pass out, my head was spinning, my hands were shaking, and I had to run to the bathroom to be sick. I run back to the stream, and I couldn’t hear anything due the sound of my heart pumping in panic through my chest. I am watching as the medics are on the track with him and I think to myself the only good sign here is that an ambulance hasn’t gone on track. In this moment I feel totally helpless, I am home with our two young children (who are sleeping) 85 miles away – 2 hours and 15 minutes away in reality and that hurt. I wanted to be there holding his hand and listening to what the medics were saying and making sure he was ok.
The feeling of helplessness when something happens to someone you love when you aren’t with them is so overwhelming, my heart ached.
Finally after what felt like a lifetime, he is up on his feet, and he is walking back to the pits with a smile and joking away which he receives huge applauds from the grandstand – it’s a full mix of emotions now – an indescribable feeling of relief, a feeling of heartbreak because I couldn’t be by his side, but also a feeling of anger at Chris for putting me through that and then casually getting up and going back to the pits like nothing happened.
The crash happened approx. 9.45pm, and I was patiently waiting to hear from Chris – but the waiting was getting longer and longer, my phone was going crazy – but not from Chris – from worried friends and family near and far after he failed to appear on the podium. At 10.05pm Chris’s mechanic Mark called me with an update that Chris was in the medical room having some checks, and that Chris would contact me when he could, Marks reassuring phone call made me feel a little more at ease, but the panic attack symptoms were still running strong.
Chris finally text me at 10.17pm from the medical room saying he was being checked over and that he needed to go to hospital for a full check over due to the nature of the crash. Then at 10.36pm he messaged to say Mark was taking him to Manchester Royal. Chris then called me at 10.53pm to say they weren’t staying at Manchester Royal as it was a 12 hour wait, so they were going to head towards home and go to UHCW.
So many people text and called me for updates on Chris late into the night, and early hours Friday morning, and most of them kindly asking if I was ok knowing I was home alone with the children and that I wouldn’t be in any state to sleep.
Chris & Mark arrived at UHCW at 1am and Chris was triaged by 1.11am and the wait time was 2 hours to see a DR. Chris was texting joking around saying he wanted to race on Monday, asked ‘was it a good crash I want to see it’ and was being his usual jokey self, whilst I was starting to feel exhausted at this point but super stressed waiting to know if everything was ok. There was no way on this earth I could sleep. Finally at 8.37am he was seen by the Dr who in turn sent him for a CT scan, scan all done, the DR gave him the all clear and he was on his way home at 9.53am – unbroken, coming home in one piece like the way he left on Thursday. The bike is wrecked, as is his helmet, but Chris isn't - he's in one piece which is the only thing that matters. I seriously don’t know how he does it …
I am sure the children sense these things as both Amara-Mae & Cruz were up at the crack of dawn (5.30am to be precise) asking where daddy was and what time he would be home.
All throughout the night I kept asking if Mark was ok with staying with him – not quite sure what I could’ve done but I felt awful for Mark who had the long wait with Chris. But Chris reassured me so many times that Mark was fine staying with him and the staff at UHCW bought them tea etc and all was ok. What an absolute gem Mark is, i can’t thank him enough - the beers are definitely on me when we get the chance before next season starts!
10.20am Friday morning and Chris arrives at the front door to be greeted by 2 excited children! He walked in the door like nothing had happened, like he was returning home from a meeting as normal. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, be mad at him, or hug him! I hugged him of course, that little bit tighter than usual …
I often get asked how I feel when I see Chris crash, now you have a little idea of the emotional rollercoaster I go through and it's not easy ...
My parents popped in for a few hours to watch the children so Chris and myself could grab a couple of hours sleep which was much needed. Then Chris enjoyed some play time with Amara-Mae & Cruz.
5pm we left home and headed to Peterborough for their end of Season bash – the kids were delighted to be able to go dressed up in Halloween costumes! Chris was due to attend the bash anyway, but then Redcar’s silver helmet was rearranged so he was going to miss it, but now he wasn’t racing following his crash, he said he wanted to go to Peterborough’s do (when in all honesty he could’ve stayed home with a good excuse – but he’s just not the type of person). Chris & Ulrich were the only panthers in attendance, so Chris was glad he made the effort to go for the sake of the fans and the organisers of the supporters’ club. We arrived home just before midnight, so luckily nobody turned into a pumpkin lol
Talk about finishing the season with a bang, literally !
As I write this blog, It's Sunday evening, the children’s bedtime routine is done, Chris is getting ready to watch the F1 and I will do some tidying up ready for tomorrow as we have the ReRun Production Camera Crew coming to our home, I will fill you in on that one another time ….