When the foe has a voice

We are very quick to judge a person or a situation when we don´t know the whole picture or what has happened that led to that situation, or made someone do something, or simply made them appear in our life. No matter how much you say out loud “no, not me, I don´t judge”, deep down inside we all do. We judge a person passing on the street just by their look, their clothes or even their smell… We can’t help it.

It’s how you act, or not, on that judgement that makes you be you and accept, or not, the difference between us all. As a crowd we may all look the same but as individuals we all act differently under the same situation and that’s because of what life has thrown our away, through the years, as it led us there.

This same judgement, we apply it to our opponents when we don’t know them, before starting a competition, being a race, a football match or (in my case) an orienteering event.

Maybe due to my mathematical (dash) analytical mind, that evolved from back when I was in school and Mathematics was my favorite subject, followed by 25+ years working in software programming and banking, I tend to analyze and crunch all the results from events I’ve just been to and before that, as I did in 2016 preparing my debut in the City Race Euro Tour, events I will run, comparing and checking out the results from others in my class.

As 2017 went by, and back then I raced both the City Race Euro Tour and its Portuguese counterpart, the Portugal City Race, some of my competitors names started to pop out to my attention, naturally. I would (and I still do) check if those that came ahead of me and those right behind, were on the entry list for my next events.

Without even putting a face to each name, these became my foe, my rivals, my compass to seeing if I did good or bad on that last race. And as the championships went by, as I was trying to fight for some position and trying to keep to my initial goals, these foes became my “fierced enemies”.

Every time I would finish ahead of any of them, either because I did a good race but mostly because they did a bad one (!), it would feel as good as a victory!

Gradually I started to put faces to each of those names, and this is just me being me and building fake stories, in my sometimes over-imaginative head, each one was surely a “bad” person is some way. After all, they were the enemy! It’s stupid, I know, and some of them reading this will probably punch me in the face in our next event together! 😊

By the end of 2017 season and during 2018, I came to know most of them. We started seeing each other so many times on orienteering events, that eventually the cordial “hello” would appear, evolving to some conversations comparing runs and then, all of the sudden we became friends… And me feeling even more stupid than normal for building those idiotic images of these guys that are actually like me, or better than me, and love to do urban orienteering!

We now talk regularly via messenger or on Facebook between events and looking forward to meeting once again on the next race! That’s what happens when your foe has a voice and, when you get to hear what they say, you realize that this person in front of you is someone you really enjoy talking to and spending time with, since we all are really just orienteers!

To meet these guys once again is actually one of the things that entices me to go to that next event. And when I can’t go, now I look at the results and it gets me down to see that one of them does a bad race, either with that dreaded mp or just having lost a lot of time in one or two controls.

It took from a few months to a year or so to change foes into friends and it took that long because we only see each other maybe 6 or 7 times a year!

If soldiers on opposite sides of a battlefield did this first, before shooting at a silhouette in the distance, I’m guessing wars would probably be totally different and most of them would come out of it with more friends than they begun with! Naïve thought, I know, but it sure would be nice…

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