Celebrating Pride Month with London Frontrunners

As part of Pride Month, England Athletics is celebrating the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community within athletics and running, especially those clubs and individuals whose positive impact goes beyond the realms of our sport.

We caught up with London Frontrunners, an affiliated England Athletics club and part of the International Front Runners family to find out more, including what the club has planned for Pride of London 2023, the UK’s biggest Pride event on 1 July.

Our thanks go to Andrew Corti, co-president of London Frontrunners along with Ash Harwood, for taking the time to speak with us. Read on to find out more…

England Athletics (EA): “Andrew, please can you start by giving us a little background to London Frontrunners - When did the club start? A little about your membership and on average how many runners train with you per week?”

Andrew Corti (AC): “The first ever club run was in February 1995 after our founder had come back from working in Chicago where there was already a Front Runners club. We now have nearly 600 members living across London and beyond - we're unusual in not being based in a specific location. We regularly have around seven runs each week (depending on how you count a run) with the larger ones attracting 50+ runners. We are also London's LGBT+ triathlon club!”

London Frontrunners at an event

EA: “With June being Pride Month, can you tell us a little bit about what Pride means to you?” 

AC: “Although running as a sport is invariably very welcoming of LFR as a club and our runners, it wasn't always the case that LGBT+ people were as accepted by society and there are still issues for us as a community, as exemplified by the current debates about trans participation in sport. Pride is a chance to remember those involved in the fight to get us accepted, past and present, and to remember that there are still some things that need to be moved forward.”

EA: “Are your club taking part in anything special to mark Pride this year?”

AC: “We will, as usual, be taking part in the London Pride march on Saturday 1July, and trying to be one of the most entertaining LGBT+ sports groups on the march as we normally do. If you haven't seen the Pride Parade before, come along and see us, or go to your local pride parade if you're outside London.”

EA: “What advice would you give to those who perhaps are not part of the LGBTQ+ community who want to be positive allies?”

AC: “Treat us as you would anyone else and if you want to find out more about us as a community please ask (but be sensitive - we are human!). If you experience instances of homophobia, transphobia, or any other anti-LGBT+ abuse please challenge it or report it to the appropriate authorities. You might also want to wear a pair of rainbow laces on your running shoes.” (Find out more via Rainbow Laces – StonewallUK)

London Frontuneers on an outdoor track

EA: “What is your favourite thing about being a part of London Frontrunners?” 

AC: “It might sound a bit cheesy but the people; it's really nice to be at a post-run social and see so many people just happily chatting away with each other, and I never have time to catch up with everyone I want to catch up with.”

EA: “How important is your club in creating a safe and inclusive space for people from the LGBTQ+ community to train and be together?”

AC: “It's really important.  Many of our members are happily first or second claim members of other clubs so it's not that they feel unwelcomed elsewhere, but we provide somewhere where people can really be themselves without having to make an effort or risk being misunderstood. Many of our members grew up in less welcoming environments or are part of less understood sections of the LGBT+ community.”

London Frontrunners at a track session

EA: “What has the club given you aside from running? For example, has it helped with your confidence or your expression?”

AC: “I started my LGBT+ sports career in football and really became part of the LFR set up after I stopped playing, but you can see that for many of our members we provide an environment where they have been able to grow as people, for instance becoming more confident in general. LFR has given me many friends though!”

EA: “Do you have any outreach ideas or ways of promoting your club to others in the local community? Do you have any advice for other clubs looking to support and welcome new people from the LGBTQ+ community and introduce them to running?”

London Frontrunners on a track

AC: “We try and promote ourselves as opportunities present themselves through publicity and collaborations with other groups, for example we have expanded the number of runs we send volunteering crews to and are regular attendees at the Out for Sport annual sports fair aimed at introducing LGBT+ sports clubs to new university students and others in London. We undertook some joint events with GoodGym Tower Hamlets last year and are working on a collaboration with a well-known sports retailer.”

EA: “Do you meet up or liaise with the other Front Runners clubs throughout the UK?”

AC: “We have tried one or two events with our closest club, Brighton and Hove FrontRunners and are planning to attend the World Gay Games in Mexico this year where we should be able to meet up with a number of clubs from around the world. In the meantime, as club members travel around on business or holiday, we often get visiting members of other clubs "guesting" on our runs and our members turn out on other clubs' runs.”

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