He’s running south on University as I round the corner that also takes me south. At a quick glance as I’m passing him he looks just like me. He’s my height. My build. My ethnicity. My age. He’s even dressed like me.
I see that he struggles and I consider offering encouragement. But I refrain. Although I’ve appreciated this gesture from other runners when my speed lags behind theirs, I can’t help but mistrust my abilities to convey support. Instead wondering if my passing words would come off smug and condescending.
But before I can complete this mental discourse, my doppelganger passes me.
I turn to face him, breaking into a smile as I do so, and jokingly call out
He smiles in kind, realizing my words are wholly good in nature.
We are both still smiling as I pass him yet again. He picks up the pace. I return fire. After 200 metres we are neck and neck. Strangers somehow unified, we kindred spirits.
At Elm the light turns red. He stays and I let him know I’m turning west. He steps aside, lets me by, affably bantering all the while.
And then I’m on my own again. As is he.
The sun shines brilliantly. The cooling breeze offers reprieve.
It happened in an instant. This very friendly fire. This most amicable of impromptu races.
Our time together lasted all of one minute. And in that minute he pulled out the best in me. Not merely in terms of speed, but also in terms of mutual support, human kindness, and FUN.
And I’d like to think, I did the same for him.