It’s been a long wait, but today (July 1st) we are re-starting official training in groups. Initially in groups of 4 including a qualified Run Leader (LiRF), our Rainbow Groups defined by pace will meet at different locations and run different routes, but we will be training with others at last. We have taken advice from England Athletics, produced Risk Assessments and advised all runners on the rules for running in this COVID-19 socially-distanced era. We can’t take on any new members right now, but if you’re interested in joining us please email and you will be added to our list – we have around 10 people already waiting to join up as soon as we have the capacity to expand. Let’s get the first few runs successfully completed and we can do more.
Posts by Russell :
Virtual LGBT5k Festival of Running
Following Northern Pride’s announcement that there will be a Northern Pride Online on July 18th, and demand from our followers, we are super excited to announce that we will hold a Newcastle Frontrunners virtual LGBT 5K Festival of Running on Pride weekend (July 17th to 19th).
Obviously, everything is hugely different this year and we all need to ensure that we abide by the rules of social distancing in our local jurisdiction.
However, we are determined to ensure that the event keeps to its principles of having fun, supporting and celebrating the LGBT community and supporting our chosen charity, Rainbow Home.
As such this year’s event will be virtual, with entrants running any distance they choose to earn the much sought-after 2020 medal.
Details will be published shortly, so get your tutus dusted off and ready.
There are a lot of virtual runs around this year…but there’s only one LGBT5k Virtual Run…
COVID-19 has “run riot” through the spring events and training calendar at all running clubs, with many runners losing motivation when faced with tight restrictions on when and where they could run. To combat this situation, at the end of April the committee of Glasgow Front Runners asked other UK clubs if they’d like to join in a virtual run across the country. It was a very well-received initiative with over 100 runners from 11 clubs participating.
May was turning out to be another depressing month, with both Glasgow and Newcastle Frontrunner clubs announcing the cancellation of their summer races (OUTrun and LGBT5k respectively), and GFR again turned the mood around by initiating another cross-UK run. The last Thursday of the month was again chosen (before lockdown, GFR regularly had a Big Club Run at the end of each month) so on May 28th runners donned their club vests, found beauty sports near home to run in, and jogged as far or little as they wanted while capturing an all-important selfie.
Turnout was again tremendous, with video messages of support posted throughout the day from the leaders of Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester Frontrunners.
Aided by the glorious weather the turnout was tremendous, with even newer clubs like Dundee getting several members involved, and Newcastle Frontrunners alone having over 30 runners. As restrictions are relaxed we look forward to being able to run in small groups, but as it’s unlikely that whole clubs will meet in the near future, and certainly not come together for races, these virtual events are a great way to keep in contact and be #alonetogether.
We are all realising that both sexual and gender identity are complex issues, and on IDAHOBIT Day 2020 it is fitting that we feature a bio written by one of our members Jo about her own growing awareness.
“I started running at age 39 in an attempt to get fit and lose a bit of middle age spread after 2 kids, a love of food and drink, and too much inactivity brought on by driving to work and sitting at a desk-based job (and possibly also some form of mid-life crisis on the approach to turning 40)!
By 2015, without being part of a running club, I’d managed to self-motivate myself to train for 3 Great North Runs (2013, 2014 and 2015) and had started to become a regular at Newcastle parkrun.
Unfortunately, after the GNR 2015, this initial burst of motivation was seriously lapsing – Winter 2015 was approaching and with the colder darker nights, I was finding it harder and harder to maintain any sort of enthusiasm to keep running.
I’d looked into local running clubs but was put off by everyone seeming to be fitter and faster than me – I was genuinely worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up and would feel out of place.
My good friend Tracey, who had recently taken part in NFR’s couch to 5k programme, suggested I try Northern Frontrunners (as NFR was called then) because they were so inclusive, really did welcome all abilities, and made sure that no one was left behind.
I joined the club in late 2015. My first memories were how welcoming everyone was, how chatting to people was a wonderful distraction and therefore made running much easier, the amazing bakers and cake after every Wednesday night run, and taking part in the Christmas 2015 fancy dress run in fairy wings and a red tutu adorned with multi-coloured lights.
Some people won’t know this until they read this bio, but NFR has also had a big impact on me personally. Being part of a LGBT+ club, taking part in Pride and other LGBT+ social events, and the friends that I have met, talked to, and confided in at NFR have helped me to recognise and work out my own bisexuality/queerness (which is probably still a work in progress but that’s ok).
I was born in 1973, so growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s, homophobia prevailed, there were so many negative stereotypes about gay men and lesbians, and bisexuality didn’t get any mention at all – I didn’t even know it was a thing! It’s only more recently that I’ve looked into it and read around the subject, and started to appreciate that sexuality (just like gender) is not binary and can also be fluid over time. It has helped me to make sense of a lot of things in my life.
Bi Visibility is still an issue, which is partly why I decided to write up this bio. My own journey has helped me to become open-minded about myself and others, and has taught me not to assume anything about other people based on outward appearances or the partner/s they are with. I’m happy to have reached a place where I can say that I am not struggling with, but celebrating bisexuality as a gift – Living by the mantra ‘What would Brenda Howard have done?’
Back on the subject of running – and the rest, so they say, is history. Here I am in 2020. NFR has absolutely rekindled and then grown my love of running, so much so that I have now gained my parkrun 100 and 25 volunteering T-shirts, become a ‘LIRF’ (volunteer leader with NFR), completed 7 GNRs, 2 Marathons (a massive sense of achievement), 4 seasons of NE Harriers Cross County League, too many other events to mention, and become a Guide Runner. I’m now hoping to complete my 8th GNR as part of a VI Runner and Guide pair with my friend and running buddy Richard (we’ll start ahead of the other runners, so this will be our only chance to be ahead of Mo Farah, albeit momentarily!)
I get so much joy out of running with NFR and motivating other new members, just like others have helped to motivate and inspire me over the years (and who continue to do so). I don’t think I would still be running without NFR, yet here I am now closer to 50 than 40, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon!”
Since we posted about Rainbow Home’s fundraising drive last week a good number of runners and walkers have signed up. Typical is Kirsten, who says, “After seeing a post about supporting Rainbows Homes, during these exceptional times, I wanted to help in any way I could. I know that NFR support the charity via our #LGBT5k and knowing we have 2 members in our club who access the services of Rainbow Home, it just felt right to help out. So I’ve linked my Strava to record my mileage, but most importantly donated funds.”
You run, walk or cycle as far or little as you like, and all your mileage from now until the end of June counts towards the final total, with the aim of covering enough miles collectively to cover the equator.
Another member, Joszef, comments: “I signed up for the challenge to show my support for Rainbow Home. While I am not that familiar with charity, I feel that whenever one can help, they should do so. There is always someone needing a hand, or a smile, or a good word. By doing this, I hope that I can contribute in my own little way to keep this amazing charity going, to provide help to those who need it, to show that there are people who care, and no matter the hardships, they are not alone. ”
The target is to raise £7500 to secure the immediate future of the service, and so far collectively we have raised just under £2000. Let’s give it a helping hand – you can sign up here.
Pictured is Alessandra from Rainbow Home with our club Treasurer Eddy giving her a cheque for £1000 at last year’s LGBT5k. With doubts about whether any races can go ahead this year, we are supporting this virtual run instead to ensure Rainbow Home continues.
While we all struggle with the demands to stay home and not meet up with friends, at least we all have a place to call home. Some are not so lucky. Newcastle Frontrunners have supported Rainbow Home (RH) for several years, and now they need our help more than ever. One of our club coaches Russell explains why he has signed up to run the equator with Rainbow Home’s Virtual Freedom Run.
“Through the club I have met several of the people whom RH supports. These are people who fled their homes in fear of their lives from countries where homosexuality is not just frowned on by society, but in some cases punishable by death. Arriving in a strange country, often with poor English, they struggle to make their case to remain. Rainbow Home provides a welcome, signposts them to legal services that can help, and provides a network including introducing them to our club if they want to run. It’s been a privilege to see how people grow in confidence given a little support, and the lucky ones have even been given leave to remain and get jobs – thus paying tax and contributing to the society that has taken them in. Many are not so lucky and lurch from hearing to hearing, being moved with no warning from house to house, and constantly at threat of deportation. Rainbow Home is now itself under threat as a result of funding being in short supply, so I am keen to do my bit to help protect these lovely and desperate humans and this much-needed service.”
Russell / News, Uncategorised / #GFRBigUKClubRun, Birmingham Swifts, Brighton and Hove Frontrunners, Edinburgh Frontrunners, Glasgow FrontRunners, International Frontrunners, It's a Piece of Cake 10k, LGBT runners, Manchester Frontrunners, newcastle frontrunners, NFR, Out runners /
“Don’t meet up. Don’t get close to others. Don’t race. Don’t sit-down mid-run on a bench…” With all the restrictions on activity during the UK’s lockdown it would be easy to think “why bother”, yet we know that running is good not just for physical but for mental health. Across the UK our Frontrunner family of LGBT+ clubs has found creative ways to motivate their members.
Some are weekly ideas, such as Edinburgh Frontrunners weekly challenge (last week: hill runs). Some are daily, like the Birmingham Swifts “take a selfie of something with the letter (x)” – see below their creative ideas for the letter R!
There have been lots of online events such as Zoom quizzes (within and between clubs – thanks Liverpool Frontrunners to the invite to your quiz the last 2 weeks) and aerobic or strength and conditioning sessions (who needs Joe Wicks?) Brighton and Hove have had various challenges, from publishing training sessions to Strava Word challenges (run so that your run route forms a word – see below:)
In the past week even more expansive events have started. Glasgow Frontrunners kicked off by turning their monthly Big Club Run into the Big UK Club Run, encouraging all LGBT+ club members to run and upload photos. Over 100 runners from across the UK took part, with 31 just from Newcastle.
This was followed by Manchester Frontrunners holding a “virtual” It’s a Piece of Cake 10k in place of the cancelled physical race, encouraging runners to run 10k and then eat some cake, posting selfies of their cake munching.
Within NFR four of our runners got together and devised a Bingo challenge for the month of May. 4 Bingo cards have been created around different themes, and runners need to complete all 6 challenges on a card before shouting “Bingo” and uploading their evidence on our Strava club. Each successfully completed card earns a place in a raffle at the end of the month. The idea has inspired several runners who had lost their mojo and not run since lockdown, with one saying, “this is fabulous!! Such a brilliant idea – I needed a fun and exciting way to encourage my running shoes back on… can’t wait to get creative! Thanks.”As distancing continues there are bound to be further initiatives to keep our clubs motivated, and we look forward to stealing the best ideas 🙂 Stay healthy, stay fit, stay strong.
Russell / Member Bio / International Frontrunners, Lesbian Visibility, LGBT, LGBT runners, LGBT5k, LGBT5k Festival of Running, LGBT5kFest, newcastle frontrunners, NFR, Out Sports, running club, women in sport /
Last year for Lesbian Visibility Day we featured a bio of recent member Jo. Since then she has joined our managing committee and helped both with guiding our LGBT5k preparations and representing our lesbian cohort. For Lesbian Visibility Week 2020 she’s written an updated piece about her experience in the club:
“It’s been a year since my first lesbian visibility week as a member of NFR. Before that I didn’t realise there is a week like this or see how important it is. I’ve been very lucky in my life that I haven’t faced any challenges due to my sexuality. I thought I was very open about it, but using this week to reflect made me realise that I wasn’t as open about myself as I thought. I’m not sure why that was; maybe it was lack of role models or a little bit of fear about what happens when people find out you’re ‘different’. I’m not sure if that was the same for other lesbians in NFR, but even within the club lesbian visibility was minimal. I think things have changed in a good way since then. We’ve had representation on the committee, social media contributors and coaches, and just those small actions where lesbians have made themselves visible has made the club feel even more welcoming than it already was.
Personally, I joined the NFR committee and have had a really good time being part of it. It’s very interesting to see what happens behind the scenes to make the club work and I am part of the team organising the LGBT5k Festival of Running that was planned to take place in July. With social distancing it doesn’t look like it’s possible for that to go ahead in the usual way, but we will see what else we can do to encourage running and LGBT participation in 2020, and I’ll be there next year supporting the 2021 event in conjunction with the rescheduled UK Pride in Newcastle – something I never imagined doing. I’ll also continue to be a positive influence within the club to help anyone who is worried about being visible to see that it’s ok showing the world who you are.”
Russell / Member Bio / Claremont Road Runners, frontrunners, Glasgow FrontRunners, International Frontrunners, lesbian visibility day, LGBT, LGBT runners, newcastle frontrunners, OutRun, running, This Girl Can /
During Lesbian Visibility Week 2020 we are delighted to introduce a comparatively recent lesbian member of our club – Emma.
“I ‘came out’ fairly recently in the grand scheme of my almost 35 years on this Earth & although I didn’t make a big deal or announcement of coming out, I’ve been a very excitable and proud lesbian since. Looking back I think it must have always been there but I didn’t realise it at some points or didn’t let myself realise it at others. I know I pushed some thoughts to the background at least. But I’m so glad it’s a thing now as it’s been like coming home and I’m so grateful to my family and friends for not batting an eyelid when they realised & fully supporting me.
I have been running for about four years now and started off my journey with the fantastic This Girl Can, where I met some amazing ladies who are still great friends now and even got to train as a run leader with this wonderful group. I then had a brief stint with Claremont Road Runners who are a lovely bunch and showed me how welcoming and not-scary affiliated clubs can be. My journey from couch potato to loving running was in full swing and about two years ago I ran my first Marathon in the Brecon Beacons, along with a few half marathons and some other fell races. Being up in the hills or muddy is my favourite type of running, as is anything sprinting based.
Newcastle Frontrunners has always been on my radar for a while – mostly because they always looked like they were having loads of fun when you would see them at events and they organise one of the most jolly events of the running calendar – the Newcastle LGBT5k Festival of Running over Newcastle Pride weekend. I, however, wasn’t ‘out’ as gay when I first started noticing them and so didn’t think it was the club for me, although I now realise it is inclusive for all.
It was on splitting up with a partner around this time last year, that I decided to integrate myself more into the LGBT community. I hadn’t really done this before as I thought “why, when I am happy with the friends I have now? I don’t need to be part of the LGBT community just because I am gay”. Then I realised it’s not about that, its not an us-versus-them type of thing. In being gay, I am already part of the LGBT community so it would be nice to get to know others who are too – I also appreciated the support and knowledge that came from it. I love all my non-LGBT friends and this doesn’t change that, but its always great to widen your circle. I don’t, however, label my friends into categories based on their sexuality (I hope I’m making sense here!)
So, this time last year, I noticed that Newcastle Frontrunners were celebrating Lesbian Visibility Week and they were inviting non-members to join them for a run followed by a social. I thought this was a fantastic opportunity to go and see what it was all about. Unfortunately, something came up so I didn’t make it that week but I went along the next week for a trial session. I was lucky in that I knew a couple of members already (Hannah and Jocasta) and Hannah kindly took me to my first session and a few after and this was great to have that comfort (thanks Hannah!) As soon as I stepped through the door on that first session, it was amazing. I felt so welcomed and during the run, a few people dropped back to chat to me and introduce themselves. And it wasn’t like you needed to prove you are gay, prove you are bisexual etc. thing, it was just, “We are pleased you’ve joined us no matter what sexuality you are, we’re happy you’re here”. There is also cake after every Wednesday session! I have made some great friends now in the club and in the wider LGBT community.
It is also amazing that Frontrunners are everywhere in the UK and the rest of the world and you are welcomed if you are on holiday there. I joined Newcastle on a trip to Glasgow for the Glasgow Frontrunners OUTrun race last year and they put on an amazing weekend for any travelling Frontrunners with a free ceilidh.
As this is lesbian visibility week, I want to encourage lesbians to join if they are looking for a club. I think some of the concerns – which I had too – is that you don’t feel you need to join a specific LGBT club just because you’re a lesbian. And this is true – look around all clubs and make an informed choice on which suits you best. But what I will say is that with Newcastle Frontrunners, you don’t feel like you are there because you’re a lesbian, you feel like you’re there because you’re a friend. Pride or LGBT isn’t rammed down your throat. Obviously, we do celebrate and get excited about LGBT stuff and fly the flag for equality but a lot of the time you wouldn’t realise that LGBT is the foundation. You would just see it as an inclusive club having fun.
I am proud to be a lesbian and I am proud to be a part of Newcastle Frontrunners and a lot of the time that isn’t mutually exclusive.
In light of advice from the government and England Athletics, we are currently on hiatus. There are no planned meetings – social or running – until at least the end of April 2020. We are supporting and motivating our runners and community via social media.