By Frank Greally
Close to four thousand participants are expected to arrive in the Phoenix Park on Sunday morning (10am) November 12th for the annual Remembrance Run 5k – Walk or Run event organised by Athletics Ireland and supported by Silverstream Healthcare.
This is a unique event that is very much about participation – with no pressure or focus on placings or finishing times. It’s an experience – that includes Choirs, Music and a Special Wall Of Remembrance on which participants write the names of loved ones- family and friends passed-as well as heartfelt messages.
The inaugural Remembrance Run 5k Walk or Run event took place in the Phoenix Park in November of 2012. That year’s event was dedicated to the memory of the legendary sports writer Con Houlihan whose columns for many years graced the back page of the Evening Press and later the Sunday World.
In those days Con was King Of The Back Page at the Evening Press and his three times a week sports columns were considered essential reading for all sports fans. On days (Monday-Wednesday and Friday) when Con’s column was published people would gather in the evening at newsagents in towns and villages all over Ireland waiting for the Evening Press van to arrive. They would say that they were- ‘Waiting for Houlihan’.
I first met Con on a wet day in Limerick in 1979 as we both watched John Treacy win the World Cross Country title on a mud-soaked Limerick Racecourse. It was the beginning of a beautiful and enduring friendship.
The following day Con wrote about the race on the back page of the Evening Press. The piece was headlined- The Magic Fox That Got Away. I can still recall one passage from the piece in particular.
“On and on he went until in the mist and rain he was away out in front like Tied Cottage in the first three quarters of the Gold Cup,
And like Tied Cottage he came down- but it was only a slip at a splashy bend and in a few seconds only his muddy knees reminded one of it. In the last mile as the powerful Pole, Mallinowski, began to make up ground, he seemed like a leading dog in a very scattered pack.
But the magic fox never looked like being caught- his biggest danger was the tumult of small boys that went out like tugboats to meet him.”
As in so many of his columns over the years, Con captured completely the true essence of that great day in Limerick.
Con used to say to me that we all have a primal need/wish to be remembered- even in some small way. He also used to say that- ‘The Last Time’ are probably the three most poignant words in any language.
Con died in St James Hospital while the 2012 Olympic Games were taking place in London. I felt it would be a fitting tribute to his memory if- along with Athletics Ireland- I could organise a Walk or Run event that would be a little different to regular road- race where participants strive for places and best finishing times.
The annual Remembrance Run 5k is a different experience where participants Walk or Run at their own pace- remembering loved ones- family and friends passed and celebrating with gratitude their own Gift Of Days and Good Health.
“It’s hard to fully define it, but the Remembrance Run 5k experience is something very special, RTE broadcaster Ray D’Arcy said.
“There’s a great sense of people coming together to remember loved ones passed and the Choirs and the Wall Of Remembrance help to create a great atmosphere. There’s no focus on finishing times- it’s all about quiet remembrance and community. The souvenir candle you receive at the finish of the event is another nice touch.”
Over the years many of the participants have told me how taking part in the Remembrance Run 5k has helped them cope with grief and loss and also find comfort and healing by joining together with others in the event.
There are lots of families who make the Remembrance Run 5k a special day out each year- taking part in the event and later going for dinner together where they talk and remember people who were special to them.
A couple of years ago I combined with my friend Noel O’Grady to compose a song for the Remembrance Run 5k. It’s written from the view of what we feel someone who has passed might like to say by means of a message to us. The song is called- I’m Still Close By:
The falling leaves are golden now
And golden too my precious time with you
I’ve gone to sleep- but I’m still close by
For as long as I’m remembered-I will never die
I believe that is the way we would like to be ‘Fondly’ remembered.
Each participant in the Remembrance Run- Walk or Run event on Sunday, November 12th, will receive a souvenir candle. It gives an extra dimension to the day when you go home and light the candle and keep the flame and the memory alive for loved ones passed.
Sunday November 12th will be a Special Day in the Phoenix Park- a day to remember loved ones and be grateful too for The Joy Of Living.
You can register for the event at: remembrancerun.ie
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