Sweat blurred my eyes, branches left scratches one after another on my bare skin, and I am here, dragging my wearing legs to the last control point. "Hold on for the last fifty meters," I told myself. The moment my finger pressed on the timing machine I sighed with relief.
I have dedicated myself to Orienteering for five years. For five years, I only had a compass and a map in my hand, coming up with the best ways to get to control points on the map in the correct order in the shortest time. Five years ago, my coach asked me to join the varsity team. I was just a weak and skinny girl who stood out in the tryout because I was familiar with the park where I grew up. But, I still accepted the offer, due to my curiosity and determination.
The first practice game was a nightmare. Without either practice or technique, I lost completely. The trees, buildings, and muddy paths all looked the same to me. The contours and routes crouched together on the map drove me nuts. I did not even get to finish half of my game by the time they told me the competition was over. Besides the frustrating game, the ten kilometer warm-up tortured me, who had never run more than two kilometers at a time before. I began to think about if it was really the right choice to join the team and doubted myself about whether I was capable of doing it or not.
I thought about quitting, but one practice in an undeveloped mountain with the National Orienteering Team changed my mind. The team could finish a medium-distance course in half an hour, where we could not even find a path to place our feet. I could not believe that they were just born with all the needed skills. During a conversation, I was told that they had been practicing for years to achieve the accomplishments they had today. How could I just give up without giving it a shot? I returned to the primary status where I had passion and determination to do this thing right.
Since then, I have participated in all of the Orienteering games every weekend, whether they are league, regional or national. I have been in the team for five years, and in those five years I have stood on the top of the medals podium. I have also curled up in other people's shadows, congratulating them while I was being introspective of myself; I have been assured of my steps, but I also have ignored my instinct to follow the flow, even if it led a wrong way.
"Believe in yourself, you have been doing great." "Landmarks are your friends." "Maps and compasses will not cheat on you; use them."... All the words I have been told flashed through my mind while I was running my last game in my high school career. Now I stand on the medals podium with the best farewell- a certificate.