Last Wednesday I took part in the Lisburn 10k road race, part of a series of races involving a Fun Run, Half Marathon and 10k which occur on the same day. The races are long established and increasingly popular.
Every year I take part in the 10k I am conscious of the tragedy which occurred in 1988 when six soldiers were murdered by the IRA after five took part in the Half Marathon and one in the Fun Run.
The pain, suffering and sorrow as a result of Northern Ireland’s troubled past continues today for many. As recently highlighted when Mary McArdle was appointed as a Special Advisor, the need to develop a means to address our past hasn’t gone away and should be tackled rather than dodged by the Secretary of State and our First and deputy First Ministers.
Alongside this issue the event did however provide a great deal of inspiration. Many participants achieved fantastic times, beating personal bests and, for some, bringing home Gold.
When running around the course I encountered many people who seemed to be having a fantastic time. One man was briskly walking around with a smile on his face and walking stick in his hand undeterred by the personal discomfort being experienced or another lady who was overtaking others and not allowing her visual impairment to stop her from achieving success. Members of the gay running club Belfast Front Runners were also present and achieved some very respectable times.
Apart from my own personal desire to improve my running speed, the main lessons I took away from the evening were that conflict merely delivers blood, tears and division whereas building a society where everyone is valued, treated with respect and enabled to achieve their best delivers wins for you, I and everyone across Northern Ireland and beyond.