As I look at the screen and figure out how I’m going to answer that question, a lot of feelings and memories come to mind…
In truth, it’s not. I would say the better part of me is what’s inside that only comes out when I’m relaxed, at peace and doing the things I love the most. So, when in “orienteering mode” and being one of the things I love, yes, the best of me may come out.
It’s funny really because, I’ve been an orienteer for so many years now (don’t remember exactly how many), but not from a tender age as today’s most top world athletes… far from it. I was already a grown man when Orienteering came into my life. A bit chubbier, as I had been when I was a kid and during my teens, but there I was in the middle of the woods doing sports… well maybe not much sport since at the time the idea of running wasn’t that appealing.
Since a kid I had a fascination with maps. World maps, street maps, maps from the island where I live. An older brother of mine had one of those globes with all the continents, oceans and countries on Earth. I would spend hours looking and exploring that thing, dreaming and wondering about all those places… the dreaming and wondering still lives on even now.
In those first years, although loving orienteering, and since there was no training involved at the time, my performance was really crappy! I would take too long in any given race and stayed consistently at the bottom of the leaderboard, but still had fun and would go to most events in Madeira.
Years went by, lost touch with it for a while as other projects came and gone. Around 2011, while searching the internet I came across an orienteering event in Venice. The idea of visiting Venice, its canals and alleys and doing orienteering at the same time, I would say was the starting point for everything that came after. Didn’t really went that year or the year after or the one after that… to be honest since that day I am still postponing my presence at OriVenezia. I really don’t know why, but something always comes up, so it’s a “well, next year I’ll go…” kind of situation.
So anyway, I started running and swimming, running some more and swimming a bit more and left a few pounds behind, so most of the chubbiness is gone (being most the operative word).
January 2016 was my first event outside Madeira. Didn’t go too far, only Lisbon, which is an hour and a half flight from home. Don’t get me wrong, I had traveled quite a bit by then but on vacation or work, but that was my first trip with the orienteering purpose. Although with modest results I loved the experience. There’s something about running through unfamiliar streets and alleys with a map on your hand that just gets me every time! That what it’s all about for us, urban orienteers and world travelers.
A few months later learned about City Race Euro Tour (will post about that one later) and since 2017 I’ve been traveling, getting to know new places and following my passion (should I say addiction?) for orienteering.
So, going back to the original question, is orienteering the better part of me? No, it’s not, but it sure helps bring it out!