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.
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.
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.”