We kick off our series of We Run As One interviews by talking to Jonathan and Gareth from Frontrunners – London’s inclusive LGBT+ running and triathlon club. They’ve been welcoming runners of all abilities and ages for more than 25 years and are part of an international community of Frontrunners clubs across the globe. They tell us what they group is doing for Pride month, and how they like to keep a sense of celebration and togetherness all year round!
Tell us about London Frontrunners…
We have weekly runs all over London, taking in some of our most beautiful parks and green spaces, whether that’s Hyde Park in central London, Regent’s Park in the north west or Victoria Park in east London, so we’re really accessible to the capital’s LGBT+ community. We also hold coached and track sessions, so there really is something for everyone.
And we have a growing number of enthusiastic triathletes, from beginners upwards.
We’re also a really friendly and welcoming bunch, and the social side of the club is very important.
Why running? What are the benefits for your wider community?
Running is what brings us together. Running with London Frontrunners allows people in the LGBT+ community to meet others like them in an inclusive and supportive environment. It lets us come together to do something really positive and beneficial for our physical and mental wellbeing. Our members often forge strong and lasting friendships.
There’s also a chance to take part in some incredible events, races and trips, where there’s a great sense of camaraderie in participating together.
What are London Frontrunners doing to celebrate Pride month?
Usually at this time of year we’d be marching (and running where space allowed!) in London’s annual Pride Parade. This year, the event has been moved to September, but we’re keeping all our fingers crossed that we can come together with the rest of London’s LGBT+ communities in this important event.
The fact that all our regular runs are back up and running after so long, and we can finally come together to run, is cause for celebration itself.
Do you run together? How do you support each other?
Running together is central to our ethos as a club.
One of the great things about being in a running club like ours is that you’ll find no end of people who are happy to talk about all things running. Just by chatting to other members, you’ll get a wealth of tips, advice and support.
We have a private Facebook group where our members can ask questions and share experiences and achievements. And we have an incredible team of coaches – all volunteers – who are on hand to dispense their running wisdom.
Whatever your level of ability, you’ll gain a fantastic amount of knowledge just by coming along to our runs and chatting with other people.
What would you say to someone who’s finding it hard to stay motivated to exercise, particularly with all that’s going on in the world at the moment?
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to run with other people. You’re far more likely to get out for that run if you arrange to do it with others – for example by committing to turn up to one of our weekly runs – and you’ll feel amazing afterwards!
Recently we’ve noticed quite a few people coming for the first time who took up running, or started again, during lockdown. Taking that next step and running with London Frontrunners is the perfect way to make sure motivation stays high.
And what about people from the LGBTQIA+ community who might want to try running but feel self-conscious or think they might not be fit enough?
We welcome new runners of all abilities, and we’ll do everything we can to make your first run with us a great experience. We’ll make sure you have someone to run with who’ll show you the route and who will run at a pace and to a distance you’re comfortable with. All our routes can be easily adapted.
For anyone who’s thinking of coming along to their first run, we have a ‘Your first run’ page on our website which explains everything you need to know. And if you get in touch with us by email, we’ll make sure we look out for you and give you a friendly welcome before your first run.
What does We Run As One mean to you and your community?
After the year we’ve all had, coming together to run as one has never been more important. It was heartbreaking to have to cancel all our weekly runs, social events and races. We couldn’t even properly celebrate our 25th anniversary as a club. And while we did everything we could to keep members engaged through virtual events, nothing beats coming together in person and running with friends.
None of us will ever take for granted the ability to run together as a club. And we’re more determined than ever to make this year a great year for London Frontrunners.
How are you engaging with The Big Half this year?
We’re extremely excited about the event. We already have 150 members signed up for places, and we’re hoping this number will increase. We had a massive turnout at the last event too.
London is our home and the place we love to run. There’s no better feeling than running over Tower Bridge with hundreds of people cheering you on. And the chance to pull on our London Frontrunners vests and come together to run with London’s other communities in this wonderful event is a real privilege.
How can people get involved with London Frontrunners?
Come along to one of our runs! Have a look at our website, read the ‘Your first run’ page and get in touch if you have any questions. We can’t wait to welcome you!