I received this email on the week before Dublin Marathon last year. You will love it, especially if you are a SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon runner or supporter. It’s a wonderful letter and I encourage you to share it with anyone you know who is involved in the marathon. Have a read…
Dear Mary, I was recently reading an article you wrote last year about the Dublin Marathon and it struck a chord. I live on Crumlin Road and was deeply moved by the Marathon last year. I was one of those people standing on the path with their kids, banging drums and sharing jellies. That day has been replaying in my head since then. I had to get it out on paper as I wanted to share it with other runners, as a gift. I’m sending it to you as you talked about spectators like me and I would love you and others to experience my perspective, the magic.
Maeve Buckley Lynch
Last year on the Marathon bank holiday my house on Crumlin Road was full of cartoons, the smell of toast and the loud sound of small hands sifting through trays full of lego. Hovering in the air above all this was a sense of anticipation. Something was going to happen. The roads were blocked off from early in the morning and traffic was stopped. No cars, just quiet. Every couple of minutes the pedestrian light did it’s thing and beeped, robot like, to itself. I stood in the middle of the road outside our house and could see all the way down to the Coombe and beyond. Sounds that were once deafening were now a hum in the distance. It felt wild to stand on one of the main veins into the heart of Dublin City. Usually it’s impossible as it throbs and rumbles, whooshes and squeals. One stretch of long straight road with nothing on it. Peace.
By 9am there were Gardai at the corner directing people to access points. A hand full of eager people were propped up on a nearby wall, already waiting for the first contestants. The wheelchair entries flew by first with their incredible strength and then the winners, gazelle like runners from east Africa. But there was nothing like what was to come. I went inside and waited, waited until they were all there. When it happened there were hundreds. Then there were thousands. I left my house and stood on the path outside with my three excited children. There they were, thousands of feet, all falling at different times. It was a sound like no other. At times there was no other sound, just feet, so many of them. The foot rhythm with their breathing was like percussion. It was musical, meditative, spiritual almost. I gazed down the road to see an ocean, waves of thousands of people bobbing up and down. They were all on my road, passing my house.
A lot of these people were out running trying to beat their personal best or reach their target time but so, so many of them were running for another person, someone less able. I gazed at all these incredible people who were using their feet, because they can. Their t-shirt was telling their story, their reason for pounding the hard ground for putting themselves through such a trial as they were busy taking deep breaths into their diaphragm, concentrating, focusing. On every t-shirt was a different cause. It went on and on, there were so many causes, there were so many bloody diseases. What the hell was going on!? Why so much suffering? I was moved to tears. I wanted to cry out loud but my kids might think that I’m totally mad crying at a pack of people running down our road? But my soul is so moved I feel I want to be part of it.
So that is when the tambourines came out, the buckets from the beach were turned upside down and banged upon. Toy drums joined in. At one point myself and my three children were a band! We banged and shook and banged and shook. People clapped and we banged louder. My banging was really trying to say, ‘I love you, we are humans, we are all struggling in this bloody mess of disease and love. We are so fragile and we must be strong. We must do this together for each other. The able must help the less able. We are all different but we are all the same.’ The world never felt so ridiculously cruel and so wonderfully kind at the same time.
Then I thought that they might be hungry, so the drums went down and the kitchen was raided. What do long distance runners eat? I had no idea. Fruit? That sounded wise so every piece was cut up into little bowls. Myself, and my children stood at the side of Crumlin Road holding out bowls of apples and mandarins to sweaty strangers. They were so grateful. I felt like I was fueling their engines, boosting their systems. The children kept shouting ‘Apples!’ ‘Oranges!’ until they were all gone. They thought this was the best day ever. Why didn’t I buy more fruit? Then I saw a man running with a small white bag of jellies tied onto his belt. Jellies!? I didn’t think runners were allowed such evils as jellies but my kids thought that it was a great idea so out came the treat box and the bowls of fruit were filled up with cola bottles and fizzy worms. They were so excited to be running down the drive, without their mother screaming STOP! in panic, to hold out bowls of jellies to hundreds of heavy breathing runners. And boy did those runners like the jellies. When the jellies were gone my daughter snuck off to the baking box and filled her bowl up with hundreds and thousands. A difficult choice for a passing runner to get a grip on but I thought it sweet how her kind heart wanted to share everything we had.
All these people, moving me to tears, all this excitement at feeding them. All these causes that drove people to fight like tigers. All these tigers trying to make things better even just by a little bit and then, I SAW HER! It all happened so quickly. She passed right in front of me, she had soft silver grey hair and the words on her t shirt punched me in the heart. DUCHENNE. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, my head turned swivel like up the road to follow her. The back of her t -shirt had her name, Margaret. I filled my lungs with air and shouted as loud as I could ‘GO MARGARET!’, Her left arm went up and she gave me a thumbs up. Margaret gave me a thumbs up! Margaret heard me! Most of the people I know wouldn’t know what DUCHENNE was but Margaret did and I did as I remembered by brother Brian who, in all his 18 years in this world, never gave up. I felt him near. His beautiful self.
For all those running for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in the Dublin City Marathon this year and all the other cruel and unspeakably unfair diseases and illnesses in our world, that make you want to scream ‘WHY!?’ – I will be there. I will be there with my band, beating our drums to the rhythm of your feet. We will fill our bowls with jellies, apples and oranges and so much love, to give, to you. Margaret, I will look out for you and all your other friends in the rhythmic river of magic that passes by my house on the October bank holiday weekend.
On behalf of us all at ForgetTheGym and everyone else who has enjoyed this read, we thank you Maeve for getting us all teary, emotional and inspired about running and marathons.
This was originally posted 2017 and now in 2018 we contacted Maeve again and indeed she will be out on the street this Dublin Marathon and has a few more words for you….
Thanks again Maeve.
If you are a running or a supporter, you might like some more tips from the team at ForgetTheGym