Want to learn to run? Returning after a long time away from running? Our 10-week Couch to 5k programme could be just what you need. Free of charge, it starts on Wednesday March 18th and comprises three sessions per week (2 with us and 1 on your own or with other programme participants). Booking is essential as places are limited – check out our dedicated page by clicking below.
Posts by Russell :
Russell / News / Dave Music Cafe, gay runners, gay sport, International Frontrunners, LGBT, LGBT runners, LGBT running club, LGBT sport, LGBT5k, LGBT5kFest, newcastle frontrunners, NFR, Pride Radio, runner bio /
In 2019 we have featured biographies of lots of our members – male and female, gay, lesbian, trans, hetero and bi. We finish the year with gay royalty – our very own Pride Radio DJ. Meet Mr Dave Ryan…
“I’ve been running on and off since the age of 13. I even got involved in the school cross-country races, something I don’t do anymore – I can’t be doing with all that cold and mud! Before I moved to the North East, I lived in Edinburgh for almost ten years and spent my time running by myself. It’s one of my big regrets. During all those years I could have been a member of a running group which would have made me more confident, more motivated and have people around me to share my passion for running and socialising. Well, there’s no point dwelling on the past and what could have been. When I moved to the North East, Newcastle Frontrunners was recommended to me by one of my husband’s friends and it was just the tonic I needed. I’ll always remember my first running session with Newcastle Frontrunners with great fondness. From the moment I set foot into the reception area at Gosforth pool, I immediately felt so welcomed. What I love the most about them is that there is never any pressure to run fast or be competitive. The club is fully inclusive of all genders, sexuality and abilities, which makes it such a warm and friendly community.
It’s over three and a half years since that first session and I haven’t looked back since. Within six months of being a member of the club I was elected to the committee and took charge of organising the busy club social calendar. It felt so good to be able to give something back to this lovely bunch. The club encourages its members to get involved in all aspects of its life. One of the big events that the club organises each year in June is a fundraising quiz and I relished the opportunity to be a part of the team. I jumped at the chance of becoming the resident Quizmaster (well I do like to talk! More on that later). I’m also proud to be a qualified Leader in Running Fitness, something the club helped me achieve. I really enjoy leading groups on different routes and helping my fellow runners to improve on their running technique and fitness. I do have to admit that my orientation skills aren’t the best and I haven’t always kept my groups on the right track, but thankfully that’s all in the past now. Well I guess it should be, I’ve been a run leader for three years!
For me, running isn’t about entering races or trying to get a personal best, it’s about pulling on a pair of running shoes and being able to just get out there in the fresh air and forgetting about all the stresses and strains in life. Running is my therapy. If you take one thing away after reading my bio, the most important piece of advice I can give somebody who might be suffering mental health issues is to give running a go. Take it from someone who has struggled a bit with their mental health in the past. Running is accessible to everyone and certainly rewards me with much-needed endorphins and has taught me that I do have control over my mind.
The biggest highlight so far as a member of Newcastle Frontrunners is being part of the club’s annual Pride running festival, which takes place on Newcastle’s Town Moor. For the past three festivals, I’ve had the great opportunity of being race Compere. The atmosphere is electric and I get to dress up in a silly costume and best of all, I have a captive audience! Last Summer I decided to dress as my music idol. I even managed to get everyone involved in the infamous Freddie ‘ay-oh’ crowd chant. It almost felt like the real thing!
My running goal for the year ahead is to finally get myself out of bed on a Saturday morning and run in a parkrun. I do wish they would start the parkrun at 10am instead! I do like my weekend lie-in. As for getting back into cross-country running, I think I’ll need a lot more persuading before I go back down that road or should I say up that muddy hill!
Now you’ve read a little about me, how about listening to me! I did mention earlier that I do like to talk. I’m live on your radio every Sunday afternoon on Pride Radio 89.2fm from 2pm playing a great mix of music from the world of musicals and film. My show is called ‘Dave’s Music Cafe’ and you are cordially invited to come inside, where just like Newcastle Frontrunners, everyone is welcome.”
In our latest member bio, we feature mother-of-4 Siobhan who is a fantastic ally to the LGBT community and a valued member of the club (after all, she is one of our star bakers!) Here is her story, in her own words:
“With a degree of trepidation we set off for Gosforth Pool on a cold dark winter’s night in 2017 asking ourselves what we were doing and why?
The why was relatively easy; we’d indulged way too much over Christmas, were feeling lumpen and from boxing day Tom (son #2) and I had been walk / jogging every other day. Within a relatively short period we’d reached the dizzy heights of jogging for 7 minutes and walking for 1 over 3 miles. That’s when I saw a Facebook post on a friend’s wall something along the lines of “Your running Club Needs You”.
And so we come to the ‘what are you doing?’ You see I’ve run before, largely a fair weather runner I’d begin ‘training’ in May-ish, get round the Great North Run in September then at best do some pretty intermittent runs or most likely stop. I knew that running made me feel good and was important for my mental health (I’d had a period of 9 months off work in 2011).
In 2016 I did a C25K course with my youngest two and again stopped until heading out with Tom on that Boxing Day. I was keen to break the ‘stop start’ pattern and the post for trying out a club came at just the right time.
It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made.
In the first year; I ran my first 10k, took 20mins off my GNR time, did a half marathon on road, trail and moorland, ran my first XC and got to see Tom named ‘runner up’ as the Club’s most improved runner for the year (proud mum moment overload).
2018 and this year have been equally good. Alex (son #1) joined the club and I’ve gone on to try new things; taken part in the Good Friday Relays, entered a fell race, been in Jesmond Dene for pre breakfast circuits, acted as a guide runner and finally, properly christened my trail shoes running through deep clarts and icy puddles and enjoying the experience, yes really!
The running is a huge part of it but, for me, there are two other reasons for being a member of NFR.
Firstly, I’ve developed incredible friendships, people who’ve celebrated my successes, sung me up hills or chatted me round when I wanted to give up, coffees, cake, celebrations, a wedding…
Secondly, I get to learn how to be a better ally – listening, being visible and loudly positive about a world where everyone, everywhere is valued and appreciated for who they are.
I’m proudly part of a community and have moved on from thinking of others who are faster, fitter, younger…as ‘proper runners’. I’m a runner and my club is Newcastle Frontrunners.”
Main image courtesy of the fabulous Maggie Davison, MDPhoto.
UPDATE December 1st 2019: Over 70 people came along to run or volunteer at our run on World AIDS Day, with a sea of red streaming across the Town Moor. It was a beautiful sight, and we raised over £250 for Blue Sky Trust, our chosen HIV support charity. See more photos at the end of this post…
Newcastle Frontrunners are well-known for hosting the LGBT5k each summer. This winter we are hosting a new free event – a 5km fun run to commemorate World AIDS Day. Over 101,600 people are living with HIV in the UK. Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
World AIDS Day has taken place every year since 1988 and has been dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic, caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease.
We would like to invite anyone wishing to show support for World AIDS Day to come along to Exhibition Park, Newcastle, and join us for a free, non-competitive 5k run/jog around and across Newcastle Town Moor, ending back in Exhibition Park. You will find us near the gate where parkrun assembles on a Saturday. Volunteers to assemble from 9.30am, and runners 9.55-9.55am with the run starting at 10am. There will be a lead runner, a tail walker, and lots of marshals on route so it doesn’t matter how fast you are, you will be catered for and have great support. See at end of the post for final details…
We have our amazing photographer Maggie on board to take group and individual shots so make sure you look your best!
The route is mostly flat, and will be adjusted according to the weather! We’d encourage everyone taking part to wear red as this is the traditional colour of HIV awareness. There is no charge to take part, although any donations would be welcome.
At the end of the run there will be cakes to buy, after all, it wouldn’t be a Newcastle Frontrunner run without cake. Although the run is free, it would be good to have an idea of numbers for cakes, so please drop us a quick email if you are thinking of coming.
All proceeds raised will go to Blue Sky Trust, a local charity which supports people in the North East and Cumbria living with HIV, and there will be representatives from the charity present on the day if you wish to speak with them.
The forecast is looking good for Sunday, but chilly. Feel free to come in warm jackets or hoodies and leave them with us at the start – the cake table will be manned throughout. The run is not officially timed, so bring a phone or GPS watch if you want to ensure you record your time.
Russell / Uncategorised / #exerciseformentalhealth, #mentalhealthrunner, #runhappy, #runintoagoodmood, anxiety, benefits of running, depression, exercise, frontrunners, gay running, LGBT, LGBT running, mental health, MIND, newcastle frontrunners, Newcastle upon Tyne running, runandtalk, running, running club, runningismytherapy /
October 10th is World Mental Health Day. MIND, the mental health charity, recognise that the LGBT population is more likely to suffer mental health issues than the wider population. Exercise is recognised by the UK’s NHS as positive for mental health and a significant contributor to positive metal well-being. The NHS Choices webpage states “exercise helps boost levels of chemicals called serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which can lift your mood. Exercising on a regular basis can boost self-esteem and confidence, which can help to relieve symptoms of depression.” With this in mind, we asked one of our members to give their own reflection on how running has helped with his own mood control.
“Hi, I’m Andrew – a 40-something gay guy who was once very overweight and struggled with depression.
I started running many years ago with the primary intention of losing weight. I ran alone due to being self conscious of my weight but also I didn’t have the confidence to run with others as I didn’t feel I was good enough. Although I could see the physical improvements from running such as weight loss, improved speed and I could actually run reasonably far but I wasn’t aware of the hidden improvements with my mood and mental health.
Jump a few years and a break from running, I pushed myself to join Newcastle Frontrunners. I did this because I wanted to get back into running but also because I was lonely. For years my schedule was to go to work and then come home; I made very little effort in going out or reaching out to others and I knew this had to change.
I threw myself into running and attended almost every session possible during my first year with NFR. I found the social aspect of running extremely positive and I don’t think I truly appreciated this until I was injured and couldn’t run.
I had a couple of short breaks due to injury and although the first time was only a couple of weeks, it felt like months. It wasn’t until the second time I was out of action for around 9 weeks I noticed my mood was slipping and I was beginning to spiral downwards. During this time I focused my attention on maintaining contact with the club and supporting them in other ways. I also tried to do the odd run here and there. Even though this did not have the same impact on my mood as running with others and being competitive, it helped pull me through.
I’m back to running now but with a different focus. I’m more focused on the doing and supporting others rather than trying to increased my speed.
NFR have become my family and I am glad I can continue to support them whether I am running or not.”
Running will not magically solve all of life’s problems, but it certainly can help. There is some evidence that experiencing (i.e. participation in an activity), and belonging (having something to belong to, and identify with) are great for promoting a sense of wellbeing. So having a club that encourages runners of all abilities to participate in whatever way they can – and that meets regularly – helps people feel a part of something. The added benefit of lots of support from other members and trained coaches alike is one possible way of promoting good mental and physical health. Once running has become something we do, many of us find that after a stressful day at work, or when struck down by anxiety, just getting our trainers on and going out for a short run can help. It’s a good thing to keep in mind – not just today but every day.
Russell / Uncategorised / Athletics, bi, Bi Visibility, bisexual, Bisexual Awareness, bisexuality, frontrunners, Holly, LGBT, LGBTQ, newcastle frontrunners, North East, north-east England, Northern Frontrunners, OutRun, Run, running, running club /
In Bisexual Awareness Week 2019, we bring you our latest bio. This one is written by Holly, one of our bisexual members, and an enthusiastic eater of cake.
“My running ability as I entered 2019 had recently edged from ‘couldn’t run a bath’ to ‘could probably run for the bus’. I had a mediocre Race for Life, a just-about-not-terrible Great North Run and a handful of parkruns to my credit, but I had no real motivation to go out and start running regularly due to a combination of anxiety that I’d drop dead alone on the roadside and good old fashioned bone-idleness. On New Year’s Day, with the sort of mindless optimism that accompanies having been overfed and drunk for most of the previous week, I decided I could probably get rid of both of those obstacles by joining a running club. Decision made, I messaged Newcastle Frontrunners on Facebook asking if they’d be willing to accommodate me.
Frontrunners appealed to me not only for its infamous attitude to running as an excuse to carb-load on obscene amounts of cake, but for its inclusive nature as Newcastle’s LGBT+ running club. At the time I was an ‘open-secret’ bisexual – married to a man, had never ‘come out’, but had a look in my eyes when looking at Margot Robbie that definitely wasn’t just admiration. It’s an unfortunate fact that biphobia is common even in the LGBT+ community; too often we’re seen as either too gay or not enough, depending on who’s accusing. I therefore went along to my first club meeting not just wondering if I was a good enough runner, but if I was a good enough LGBT+ member.
Happily, I wasn’t tested on either of these things, and I enjoyed my first ‘rainbow run’ immensely. It was encouraging to be recommended to join the orange group, which made me feel I wouldn’t be the newbie dragging the rest of the group down, and I left feeling accomplished, healthy and that I might actually fit in with the ‘proper runners’. I’ve been a member of the club for 9 months now and that feeling gets stronger and stronger after every session.
The variety of sessions and club trips is excellent, and mean running and training are always interesting. Having a couple of non-serious but nevertheless annoying health conditions means that a lot of the time I feel that my body is working against me, but training with the club has helped me appreciate what I can do and how much I can improve – even if I still can’t plank to save my life! We’re also socially an amazingly friendly bunch – our Pride party and trip to Glasgow have been some of the highlights of my year (although we’re a lot better at running than we are at ceilidh dancing!) Becoming more involved in the LGBT+ community through the club led to me recently ‘coming out’ officially, which felt more liberating than I ever expected it would. I feel very lucky that three fantastic communities I’m part of – LGBT+, running, and Newcastle, one of which I entered by birth, the others by choice – can intersect in such a positive, fun and supportive way.
I’d recommend that anyone who’d like to improve their running, get fitter and healthier, or even just pick up a new hobby and meet people come along to one of our trial sessions and see what we can do for you. If nothing else, you won’t leave hungry!”
Led to the start by a bagpiper…joined at the finish line by a man-sized dog called Jog Scotty…dancing the Gay Gordons . not your typical race weekend! Since 2015, Glasgow FrontRunners have hosted a 5-mile race called OUTrace in August each year. As it takes place early (9.30am) on a Saturday morning, it gives us an excuse to go up on the Friday and spend the weekend in this great city. This year, to enable more people to attend, the club paid for a minibus with driver to transport a group up north. In total 19 of the club took part in the weekend, with many doing their first trip to this race and their first 5-mile race – it is an unusual and interesting distance to run.
The minibus trip started in typical Frontrunner fashion , with some wine passed around and cake on tap. Some of us had an early night, but others sampled the Glasgow nightlife. Happily everyone made it to the race start line on the Saturday, in the amazing amphitheatre of the Kelvingrove Bandstand. We were welcomed by local drag artiste Miss Bella Houston who gave our club a big shout out before helping lead a mass warm-up to get us all ready. We were then led by the bag piper to the start line on a beautifully rainbow-decorated Prince of Wales bridge.
Our runners came from all abilities of the club, with 2 finishers in the top 20 and others spread right throughout the field. No matter how fast you ran, the route was a green, lush, undulating beauty – and the difficult hill at 4 miles was rewarded with a drumming band at the top 🙂 One of the other fab elements of this race, apart from its route through the amazingly scenic Kelvingrove Park and Kelvin Walkway, is that it loops back on itself so team members can cheer each other on – which we certainly did!
After the run there was a charity cake sale with proceeds going to LGBT Youth Scotland (over £1000 was raised on the day via cake sales and texts). We then made our way back to our various hotels for a weekend of shopping, sleeping, drinking or, in one case, a tour of the Oor Wullie statues which had been placed throughout Scotland for the summer (https://www.oorwullie.com).
The FrontRunner love continued on Saturday evening with a group dinner at Arta restaurant, and then a free ceilidh for all visitors. The dancing started with the relatively simple Gay Gordons but got increasingly tricky, and increasingly fun! Some of the team went on later to the Polo Lounge for further dancing, while others had done quite enough for one day!
On Sunday morning we were invited to join a regular GFR Sunday run, where there were options of 5k. 7.5k, 10k and 16.5k, and we finished up with a group brunch at Bar Square in Merchant City and a group photo with Our Wullie. What a great time. Thanks GFR and see you next year!
Hi my name is Carolyn. When I started running in 2012 I decided I needed a club but being a trans woman was nervous how I would be treated. Going to Pride that year I saw leaflets for Northern Frontrunners and after a couple of months decided to pop by and see what they were like. It was a small group and I was the only female but everyone was really friendly. When we went out for the run I was left at the back but Cameron pulled back to stay with me and this was the start of our “never leave anyone on their own at the back” policy. At the end of the run I was asked by all if I was going to stay; I did and became the first female member. With Steven Duffy’s and others’ encouragement I tried to increase the female membership, making sure I was always at the pool to meet and greet even if injured. They also encouraged me to be on the committee and become a LIRF (Leader in Running and Fitness), where I concentrated on those who had not run before or coming back from injury.
Whilst on the committee I made sure we had more female products in the goody bags for the LGBT5k and also brought in the medals – designing the first 2. This is the ethos of the club where if you have an idea you can put it to the club and they will listen which makes all members feel they can improve the club. The club became Newcastle Frontrunners in 2017, and that year at the AGM I received a Special Achievement award for my 108 races in the year.
I feel that the club has not only improved my running but brought out more in me as I’ve never helped to organise an event before this or wanted to be on a committee. It makes me proud to see how the club has grown over the years and especially the amount of females and the diversity of the club.
Continuing our theme of introducing club members and showing the diverse backgrounds and motivations they all have, this month we feature Callum.
Having finally reached that age when I couldn’t eat what I wanted and stay as thin as I wanted I was on the look out for a form of exercise I could do. I started with most peoples first port of call – the gym. At first, I was motivated enough to go a couple of times a week but with lots of bits of equipment that I didn’t know how to use, no help or guidance available without paying for an expensive personal trainer and the same monotonous routine it wasn’t long before I got bored. I decided to give running a go outside rather than in the gym on a treadmill. I quite enjoyed the endorphin boost I got from a small run outside but again without any guidance I soon became unmotivated as I didn’t see myself being able to run any further (and more to the point had no idea what I was doing?!). I decided to look for a running club which could help me in my endeavours to find a form of exercise I enjoyed.
As a member of the LGBT+ community I had heard of Newcastle Frontrunners and decided to give them a message and see what was involved. I received a prompt response offering a very detailed synopsis of what the club offered and putting me at ease that my lack of experience would not be an issue. I arranged to take advantage of the clubs two commitment free runs starting by taking part in their Monday night run development session followed by the Wednesday night rainbow run. The whole process was easy – being organised through Facebook and very welcoming to a novice runner.
I turned up for my first Monday night session not sure what to expect and quite frankly a little nervous! This didn’t last long as I was met by an amiable group of runners of various abilities who put me at ease and promised not to leave me behind. My first session started with a very gentle jog from sports central to exhibition park followed by a hill rep session. I was worried that I would hold people up or be a burden to the more experienced runners, but the sessions are all designed to cater for all abilities. There has been no point whilst running with the club where I have ever felt out of my depth and there is always plenty of support and advice. Throughout my first session, Allen who was leading the session was asking me questions to find out what I was able to do, and he recommended that I run in the orange group (3 miles) at the Wednesday rainbow run. The prospect of having to run 3miles was pretty daunting but I took Allen’s word for it and decided to have a go.
When I turned up on the Wednesday I was greeted by a much larger crowd than the Monday night but again everyone was very welcoming and after talking with other people I discovered that many people had been in my situation before. The evening started with a group warm up followed by being introduced to the leaders of the orange group. The leaders assured me that I would not be left behind and that there was no pressure to run at a pace that was to fast for me. The run itself was hard work having not done this distance before but the sense of achievement that I got made this one of my favourite exercise experiences. With the support of the club I had discovered that I could run further than I thought. Plus, there was cake waiting at the end!
As with all runners I haven’t been without my new runner ailments. Having had some bother with shin splints at the start, there was plenty of advice available from my fellow runners and the leaders. They were able to recommend shoes etc and other advice to help me. The support offered from the club has be invaluable in helping make running something I enjoy rather than another failed attempt at finding a form of exercise that suits me. Having enjoyed running with the club I was looking for other runs that I could take part in. Andrew, a fellow runner, asked if I would like to do a park run with him. These are great 5k runs on a Saturday which offer good experience in running with large groups of people in a race type setting (although you can walk them if you want!). The club has provided a really good place to find people to do other runs with and there is always someone willing to run! With all the help and support I have been given (for a lot less than the cost of a personal trainer) I have recently made the jump to the yellow (4 mile) group. There was no pressure but plenty of friendly encouragement to make the jump!
In summary, joining Newcastle Frontrunners has supported me through taking up running ensuring my longevity in the hobby rather than having another failed attempt at finding a fun form of exercise. The advice and wealth of experience available have been welcomed and have made running something I want to do rather than something I force myself to do. I have made friends, attended socials and found an inexpensive form of exercise that I enjoy in an environment that is supportive of those from the LGBT+ community. I would recommend the club to any new or experienced runner alike. Why do it alone when you can benefit from the support, knowledge and social aspect of running with an inclusive club that caters for all abilities.
Since this is National Volunteer Week in the UK, it seems appropriate to feature our Training Co-ordinator Stephen, better known as Stevie G, who is responsible for making sure we have a full roster of volunteer run leaders available at all of our sessions.
“When I joined Newcastle Frontrunners in 2014, I wasn’t driven by any desire to be a serious/competitive/dedicated runner – I joined when a friend encouraged me to enter the LGBT5k that year, and I figured I ought to do some training to save me from embarrassing myself/putting myself in hospital. I attended semi-regularly as Wednesday runs clashed with my tennis club, but as the autumn and winter rolled round, the weather made outdoor tennis unplayable and I found myself running every week. Tennis was long forgotten about.
Fast-forward 5 years (nearly) and I’d now consider myself a competitive and dedicated runner – I now run every week (or try to at the very least) and I love to challenge myself. The club has enabled me to do that, and through the support of the club, I’ve been able to achieve things I would never have thought I was capable of! I’m proud to be able to give back to the club and help my fellow Frontrunners through my work on the committee and as a Coach and a Leader – again something that I would never have done if not for the encouragement of others who saw something that I didn’t know was in me.
I can’t imagine NOT being a member of NFR at this point in my life, and it’s only when I’m writing the reasons down for this bio, that I realise exactly how important it is to me. Running of course has its health benefits in that it helps to offset damage done by cake and wine, and it de-stresses me after work. What I don’t often give a second thought is that being a member of NFR makes me an active member of the LGBT+ community – prior to running with NFR I didn’t have many friends who were LGBT+, and I half-heartedly supported Pride, seeing it as a reason for a party. Since becoming a member of NFR I now realise how important it is to be a visible member of the LGBT+ community, and how important it is to be LGBT+ and visible in sport, where LGBT+ individuals are still few and far between. Being in the club has shown me how fundamental and important this is – we’re fortunate enough to live in a country where LGBT+ individuals have rights and protections and safe spaces, however not every LGBT+ individual can say that, which is why clubs like NFR need to exist and why I’m proud to be a member. I’m proud to call the members of Newcastle Frontrunners my friends, and can’t imagine the past 5 years any differently.”