Virtual 5k Festival of Running 2020

The 2020 festival was set to be special with Newcastle Pride hosting UK Pride and Newcastle Frontrunners being an integral part of the Pride plan, but it ended up being special in a very different way. The organisational baton was passed to us, Jo and Patrice, from Russell and Nat who arranged a very successful 2019 event. They left us with a lot of great advice, with step by step plans of what needed to be done when and things to watch out for that had been sticking points in previous years. But no mention of what to do if the event is cancelled due to a global pandemic!

By March planning for the festival was well underway. We’d had the go ahead from the council, entry and timing was in place, medals had been ordered and arrangements with Pride were nearly finalised. So much so that we were invited to the launch of Pride in February where our festival was launched with a gaggle of drag queens running to a rousing rendition of Chariots of Fire.

Then at the end of March all arrangements came to a grinding halt when the world went into lockdown. We kept our fingers crossed that the festival could still go ahead but we had to make the hard decision in April to cancel the event. For a while we thought there was no way we could put a race on this year but then was a glimmer of hope. Lockdown rules had been relaxed enough that virtual events were able to take place. With it being our first year organising the race and no one in the club having organised a virtual race before we weren’t sure if it was the right thing to do. Would anyone want to do a virtual race? It turns out they did.

When we decided to give a virtual race a go, the entry company we had on standby to do the original event were doing virtual races so they helped set everything up. Entries opened in June with only 3 weeks until the event. But the entries rolled in and we ended up with 704 sign ups. 11 frontrunner clubs were represented and the great thing about it being a virtual race was that international runners from 9 countries were able to join in.

The event took place over the weekend of 17 – 19 Jul and during that time Alan and Russell manned the photo zone in Exhibition Park where there was a stream of runners passing through in traditional NFR 5k fancy dress. It was great to see that the spirit of the 5k wasn’t lost with a huge array of costumes on display. And in true NFR style prizes were awarded in a number of categories, the winners being:
Individual: Lee Elder – Statue of Lee-bity
Pairs: Nuns – Julie and Liza
Teams: Saltwell Harriers
Location: Ottawa

Usually the running festival is one of the club’s main sources of income for the year but this year with outgoings being drastically reduced the committee decided that once all the costs of putting on the virtual run were met any additional income would go to this year’s club nominated charity, Rainbow Homes. We were delighted to be able to make a donation of £4,995.94.

We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped and supported this year’s festival, everyone who volunteered for the festival that wasn’t able to go ahead and everyone that took part in the virtual race. You all really did make it a special year.



Patrice - LGBT5k organiser


Jo - LGBT5k organiser