HOPE written in large letters on a banner, lit up the grass in front of Marlay Park at 4am last Saturday morning. Along with over 2,000+ others, I set my alarm early, put on my yellow DIL t-shirt and silently made my way to the park. Along the way I passed Lamb Doyle’s pub and was surprised to see people outside. I thought they might be parking there and walking to the DIL event, but as I passed I realised they were still partying, just outside smoking and drinking. A pre-race party perhaps or just the last laughs of Friday night? Two very different worlds collided very briefly. Not my scene these days (10 years ago in Holland I was more likely to be coming home at 5.30am, but now I get up for a morning swim at that time).
There’s an amazing calm at that time of night/morning. No traffic, no radio, no rush. Just the birds starting to awake, chirping away. Nationwide over 120,000 people joined us in over 90 locations to walk or run the 5km. Running is not de rigour – it’s not a race! Just relax and enjoy it. People do it in memory of those who’ve died by suicide and to help prevent these tragic losses by raising awareness and fundraising for Pieta House, which does great work with people in dark places and in need of help.
I was surprised by how many young kids and entire families took part. It was great to see. People of all ages, including grannies and dogs. All there in good form, no complaints. Even the rain held off.
Luckily I brought my headtorch as the path was pretty dark. But then you’d be surprised by a volunteer cheering or a mini choir singing in the bushes. Such selflessness and happiness. The run was largely silent – just time to think about loved ones, or share a few words with a friend. I remembered John a lot. He would have liked the idea of running around a dark park in the middle of the night.
It wasn’t a race, so no pressure. I enjoyed just being there with everyone. Crossing the finish line you could see the sky brightening up. That’s the great message about DIL: there is always hope. Just like the sun will always rise. Don’t give up – get up and look at the sunrise. Be thankful for what you’ve got – how can you put a smile on someone’s face today?