Running with a cause: LGBT club raise funds for World AIDS Day

It’ll be a 5k fun run with a purpose: scores of members of the largest LGBT sports club in Scotland enjoying exercise while also raising funds to mark World AIDS Day.

The event, being staged on Sunday December 4 by Glasgow FrontRunners in the city centre, is one of a number of activities through the year designed to encourage running among the LGBT community.

The Red Run will be accompanied by a bake sale raising money for the Terrence Higgins Trust, the AIDS research foundation.

The 5k run, which takes in a route to the Forth and Clyde Canal,  is interspersed with “boot camp challenges”.  Jason Bohan, president of Glasgow FrontRunners, said this year’s challenges were a secret, but last year’s included “catch Santa”, “a round of British bulldogs”, and also included a “skipping rope”.  So it’s boot camp, if boot camps were fun and silly.

The event is free and open to anyone. All they ask is that participants wear red, the colour for HIV awareness. If you want to join them, the meeting point is the Arc gym, Glasgow Caledonian University, at 10.45am on Sunday.

Jason said the club currently has over 100 members: from competitive runners trying to improve their times, to social runners who just want to get fitter and do it with friends. “We’re trying to support lots of different people with different goals.”

The Red Run is one of a number of events in the club’s busy calendar.  There’s OUTrun, a chip-timed 5k race in August which brings in several hundred runners from all over the UK; the Rainbow Run, a 5k fun run in February celebrating LGBT history; while club members regularly take part in numerous parkruns throughout Glasgow.  Last year, the club supported members with over 700 training runs.

The club’s main aspiration is to get people running in a friendly and sociable atmosphere.  It identifies itself as an LGBT club, but it’s open to anyone. Jason said research has shown that members of the LGBT community are less likely to engage in physical activity compared to the wider population, and specifically they are less likely to join sports clubs, largely because they are afraid of facing prejudice and discrimination.

“There’s a need for a safe space. Clubs are also an important way of building friendships in a way that’s healthy and rewarding.  There are lots of pubs to socialise in, but not many ways for members of the LGBT community to form connections not based around alcohol. An LGBT sports group helps people get fit, make friends, and achieve things they didn’t think were possible.”

couch-to-5k-graduation

For beginners, GFR offers a “couch to 5k” training programme, which gets anyone who hasn’t run before fit and confident enough to do a 5k, starting again on January 5 next year.  Jason said: “The support you get from training in a group is amazing. It helps you achieve things you didn’t think you could.”

Andy Monk, now the club secretary, went from a 5k to a marathon in 18 months.  He wrote on his blog: “I had the fortune of training with some very fine gentlemen who kept me going. I think that is one of the things I love most about Glasgow FrontRunners – taking part in the training programmes whilst enjoying the great company!”

Another member, Heather Noller, reflected on her blog: “I’m about to run the Edinburgh Half Marathon and I’m not sure quite how I got here, but Frontrunners and the people I’ve met through the club are a major part of my transition from someone who couldn’t run down the road to someone who can run that 13.1 miles.”

The first run for new members is free, then afterwards you have the option of joining the club for £28 per year (£16 concession), or pay-as-you-go £1 per run.  GFR meets three times per week at the Arc Gym and every run is supported by one of their 20+ qualified jog leaders.

For more information, visit the club website

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