News - 8th August 2018

Farewell to an unsung hero


My first memories are of bright sunshine, blue seas and strange accents. I belonged to Patricia who is now the Event Director of Lough Key parkrun. When we moved from Australia to Ireland she no longer had any need for me so I was stashed away in a dark attic. I thought life was finished.


One morning the attic door opened. “Ah, there you are, well you are perfect for parkrun”. Of course I had no idea what she was talking about, but freedom lay beyond the attic door. I soon discovered we were set for a different type of travelling experience and it did not involve airplanes.


I was loaded up with laptops, hi-vis vests, megaphones, watches, scanners, plastic boxes, pens, pencils, clipboards, balloons, tape, all kinds of paraphernalia, even a selection of hats and umbrellas. I was loaded into the very tidy boot of Patricia’s car and off we headed bright and early for a place called Lough Key Forest Park. Apparently there was a weekly event there which involved lots of people running and walking around a 5k course. Along with Patricia there were other members called Liza, Helen and Deirdre. They were all very excited about the whole event and I was ecstatic to be a very important member of the team too.


To be honest, I was the most important part of the parkrun team. Without me and my contents there was no parkrun. Life became a whirlwind of travelling to and from Lough Key in the various car boots of the team. I got to stay in their houses and the care I received was very heartwarming. I especially enjoyed staying with Liza and Deirdre as they hoovered my interior and tidied my contents every five minutes. I heard Patricia mention obsessive cleaning but I didn’t know what she meant.


During my time as team leader at Lough Key parkrun I met hundreds, probably thousands of lovely people. As the Core team grew in numbers I also got to stay with Melissa, Dean, Gerard, Adrian, Graham, David, Rachael, Ann and Aideen. I was the centre of the whole event. They would gather around me every Saturday morning seeking the hi-vis vests, scanners and watches. I heard all kinds of interesting conversations. I met many celebrities, even Karl Henry and Jamie Killeen. The most famous person I probably met was the Lion King aka Adrian. He even took me home with him when it was his turn as RD. RD means Run Director and that person took me home with them for the following week’s parkrun. The best friend I made at parkrun was “golf bag” who was also part of the team and carried all the poles and cones. He was very nice but not as important as me! Lately there is a youngster called “Token Board” – a handsome fellow.


One day a lovely lady called Sarah, a first time parkrunner, arrived late to the start area to find me all alone in the clearing. She thought it was very odd that someone would leave a lovely navy suitcase in the middle of the forest. I experienced all kinds of weather during my time as team leader at Lough Key parkrun but most of my memories are of happy, sunny, fun-filled days. I regularly joined them for coffee in the Lakeside restaurant where they processed the results. Then it would be time to pack up again and head for my new RD’s home until the following week.


Last week was my last day as Team leader. No longer will this “Suitcase” join the merry Lough Key parkrun team. Rachael, who was my last RD, reported that my handle had broken and I was no longer suitable for the job. It was with a heavy heart that I witnessed Deirdre transfer my contents to the new “Suitcase”. He is a young whippersnapper, grey in colour. His only claim to travelling fame is a few trips to Canada. He is simply not me.


The team was sad to let me go and put me into retirement where I will live with memories of many happy parkrun teams. I was the first “Suitcase” at Lough Key parkrun, and honestly, in my opinion of course, I was the best “Suitcase” ever!

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