When I was at school, we didn’t get much of a choice in the way of sports. Rugby in winter, cricket in summer and athletics. I can’t recall that we received much coaching … but I do remember that you only made the team if you were any good. If you didn’t, you got sent on a cross-country run. I did get rather good at that!
Fortunately, joining the Air Force gave me access to many other things to try … tennis, badminton, squash, basketball … the ones I particularly liked were archery and orienteering. But, cross-country remained a firm favourite. It was the one that called for the least financial layout for kit, and one I could practice almost anywhere.
That’s anywhere in the world … I vividly remember running along a forest track in Germany, and coming across a wild boar … fortunately, he was more intent on his own business. On Cyprus, a half-marathon was interrupted when I, and one or two other competitors, heard a wail from an adjacent field. We beheld the strange spectacle of an elderly Cypriot hanging by his arms from an olive tree. He had, he explained later, been standing in the back of his donkey, gathering olives in the traditional manner, when the donkey had suddenly taken off.
We found him a couple of fields away, blissfully ‘making little donkeys’ with a new-found friend.
The thing with cross-country running was that I saw much, and had some great experiences, even though I never won anything. But, that’s a sport in which winning isn’t everything:
‘And when the Great Scorer comes to write against your name
He’ll ask not if you won or lost, but how you played the game’
This week’s contribution to the ‘Travel Theme’. See more at https://wheresmybackpack.com/2016/08/05/travel-theme-sport/