Danny Silk PT meets the Leeds Frontrunners
Updated: May 20, 2018
I had the honour of training with Leeds Frontrunners on Saturday 4thNovember 2017 and meeting up with Andrew Fraser to ask him a few questions about the Leeds Frontrunners.
I arranged to meet Andrew Frazerthe organizer of Leeds Frontrunners and ask him a few questions regarding the group.
“It’s a running group, an inclusive running group. However the majority of the members are from the LGBT+ community.”
Hi Andrew, what are the frontrunners?
It’s a running group, an inclusive running group. However the majority of the members are from the LGBT+ community. We are affiliated to England Athletics. The frontrunner name has been going for about 40 years, starting in America in San Francisco. They’re a numerous frontrunner groups across the world.
I have noticed myself when ‘hash tagging’ Leeds Frontrunners that there are a few in the UK alone, as well has across the globe.
Yes we had a couple that was over on holiday from Canada the other week that asked to join us on a Saturday run. So if you go to another country such as New York, Paris you will be able to tag along with them
What made you start the Leeds Frontrunners?
Well, obviously I like running. But one aspect was to social side of it, you have met my partner we both moved to Leeds and we didn’t know many people on the scene. I tried to join other groups within the city but none of these groups were LGBT, so there was always that introduction that had to be made. It’s not what it used to be like but there were always those difficult questions and answers that were too personal that you didn’t want to give. Even if you were a regular to a group, when new members joined it would be repeated and the same questions asked. That isn’t expected in the LGBT community, there is a degree of respect to your personal life people doesn’t tend to ask awkward questions. But at the same time why shouldn’t you talk openly about your life. We have had numerous messages from our members saying that it was great coming to an LGBT+ inclusive group. You tend to find you get more inquisitive people in the straight world, who are curious about the LGBT world.
Because being Gay is so exotic..lol
When you wanted to use the Frontrunners name did you have to contact anybody to be able to use their name?
Yes the idea came about 6 years ago. I think I may have contacted Manchester Frontrunners regarding contact details to Frontrunners, has I had made contact with the group and run with them previously. I contacted the frontrunners website and created the group Leeds Frontrunners as the only other groups close to Leeds were at the time Manchester, Newcastle was starting and I think Liverpool.
Six years that’s amazing!
That’s when I contacted the Frontrunners and created the group. But as the group stands at the moment I would say its been going for 2 years. When I first started the group we did a couple of runs along the canal but it never really took off, but with no support it declined. I kept the page open for another 3 years and it wasn’t until someone made contact about joining us for a run and it grew from there, each week we seemed to have more people joining us.
I was amazed about the social aspect of the group! I noticed after my run that there were members who arrived for a coffee and catch up who actually didn’t run.
Yes, the social aspect is great with the group, there has been some great friendships formed. As you are aware the Abbey Dash 10k run was the day after so some were saving themselves for that, some may have not been feeling well enough to run, but still make the effort to pop down for a coffee and chat. When we do a Leeds and Liverpool canal run we all meet up for brunch afterwards. We have visited ‘Archie’s’ a few times but we are looking for new venues close to the area.
How many members do you have? It was pointed out that your Facebook page has reached 300 members…congratulations.
Yes we have 300 members we have over 40 members who actually run and pay for membership. But we have other people who are members of the Facebook page, who maybe part of another Frontrunners group or people who would never run, but chose to be part of the Leeds frontrunners page to keep up with social information
Where do you run?
We mainly run in Roundhay as we find it is more central for our members to get to and then we do the Leeds and Liverpool canal run. Now and again we’ll do a ‘Park Run’ either at Woodhouse, Roundhay or Temple Newsham. There are different challenges to each location. Some people prefer the canal run as its 30 minutes out and 30 minutes return so we all finish at the same time, where Roundhay is more a route we complete, and there’s more routes we can do Roundhay but certain routes can be quite boggy this time of year. Possible track runs, with joining the Valley Striders in the future.
What challenges do you have with the Frontrunners?
Getting people involved, initially getting people to help launch the group and help promote the events. But it just fell in place July 2015. Making sure the runs had leaders so having to send individuals on leader courses as for legal reasons you need at least one leader on each run
If you had a nervous person who wanted to join the group but isn’t as confident in themselves to make the first move to come and join the group for a run. What would you suggest?
This is a common theme, there is nothing we can do apart from show we are a friendly group. We post photos before, during and after a run where we try to capture the relaxed atmosphere. But there’s not much you can do, you cannot force someone to attend and it is entirely up to them
Do you get support from the LGBT community?
We are part of the LGBT sport inclusive hub that is all really from the council. But we try to aid Leeds Pride in 2016 by taking over Park run and this year we joined Leeds LGBT Sport Fringe Festival, which offer an inclusive Festival, which raised money for DAZL – Dance Action Zone Leeds. Which is another inclusive club for the youths of Leeds. We also have Claire Senior PT who is part of Valley Striders who is part of who supports us with separate running groups.
What obstacles do you get from the community, were there any other LGBT running groups in Leeds?
No there were no other running groups based in Leeds. The nearest was Manchester and Newcastle. People ask why are we isolating ourselves just running an LGBT running group. But to be apart of England Athletics you need to be an inclusive club to be apart of them. You cannot exclude anybody and you need to accept everyone, you cannot expect acceptance while excluding a group.
I believe there needs to be a barrier broken down on both sides, to expect the sporting community to accept the LGBT+ community but at the same time the LGBT+ community needs to accept the sorting world. Both need to stand up to homophobia and bullies!
A few people probably still do perceive the Leeds frontrunners as being an LGBT+ exclusive club, but we are an inclusive club and though majority of our members may be from the LGBT+ community we do have a few members from the straight community. Our website does state we are an inclusive club.
What other running events do you get involved in?
There are many other runs we take part in such as Leeds 10k and Abbey dash 10k. This year we have tried to take part in a race each month as a trial moving forward next year we are looking at completing a race each quarter. Manchester Frontrunners do their own run in April called ‘The cake run’ which we go over and support, sometimes we will stay over or get the later train back and join the after party at New York, New York. Recently we did the ‘Spooked Out – Run’, which was a success.
Do you have specific uniforms?
Yes we have our blue t-shirts with the Leeds Frontrunners logo on the chest. We have always had shirts from the beginning and slightly changed over time but they make sure that they stand out.
How involved do you get in Leeds Pride?
We have got involved in Leeds Pride for the last two years taking over a Park Run and supported Leeds LGBT Sport Fringe Festival and also including a Thursday evening Leeds and Liverpool canal run. We are looking forward to supporting Leeds LGBT Sport Fringe Festival 2018 and Leeds Pride this year
What press coverage have you had?
Apart from this…we have been in Made in Leeds, which was linked to Leeds LGBT Sport Fringe Festival.
How much does it cost to become a member of Leeds Frontrunners?
The membership costs £32, which covers costs for the club and pays for your membership to England Athletics. Which gives you discount towards official races, discount in certain sport shops.
How much training does a person need before becoming a member?
You cannot wake up one morning and expect to be able to run a 10k run without completing any training. But you can join with no previous running experience, as we have a leader at the front and a leader at the back to support and motivate the slower, less experienced runners. Couch to 5k is a method we use and Claire Senior has run a few of these in the past
Do you do any charity work through Leeds Frontrunners?
We have done a few charity events. Leeds LGBT Sport fringe Festival, Abbey dash and Leeds 10k and much more
How would you suggest to somebody if they wanted to increase their speed and stamina?
Run with someone, you’ll find that you will try to beat each other’s times and push/ support each other. Track would be a great running method as you can time your distance
Where is the best place to shop for your running equipment?
So many places to shop, The Up and Running Shop tends to be a little more expensive but a few people have suggested get your measurements there, see the footwear you like and shop online for a cheaper source.
What is the best running brand out there?
I have Brooks now; I do like the ‘Underarmor’ gear also
How often would you get your feet tested?
I would suggest every time you change footwear. Muscles change so it’s a good idea to get them tested each time, as it is free.
How many hours a week do you run?
3 hours per week split over 3 runs
What are the running orders of the run?
There’s the leader of the run who sets the pace and another leader who supports the runners at the back.
What suggestions do you have to anybody who wants to start running during the winter months?
Wrap up but at the same time wear lightweight clothing, which you can remove if you get too warm and tie round waste. Light gloves are good to keep your hands warm while it is cold
What is the best time for a 10k run in the group?
Does the group receive any homophobic abuse?
No not really, I don’t think has a group we have received any homophobic abuse
What online presence do you have?
Our Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Meeting the group at Roundhay Park near the café I was gearing myself for a challenge. With previously working with Leeds frontrunners I knew that they were a friendly, social group that were major figurehead within the community.
So 9am arrived and has I was driving up towards Roundhay I was amazed by the number of runners heading towards the park. Quickly discovering ‘Park Run’ was running at the same time at a different location in the park. As I arrived at the meet up location I was greeted by members of the group, noticeable by their ‘Leeds Frontrunner’ running tops, great warm welcoming by the team who were running that day, even though it was cold, wet and slightly muddy after the previous evenings bonfire festivity at the park. Andrew Frazer and Paddy Gallagher were the leaders of todays run and both gave a breakdown of the run, explaining who was leading the run and who was supporting the run from the back, Paddy then started the warm up session where there were a variety of warm ups such as jumping jacks, stretches and jogs on the spot.
Roundhay is a really good run, I personally run with my clients I run nearly once a week but I get defeated when I see a hill, I stayed at the back and ran with Andrew while he supported the back, so I could chat to him and also another member. Andrew was great supporting the slower, less experienced runners giving advice and motivating. They kept the run short due to the Abbey Dash on Sunday 5thNovember.
After completing a 2.67 mile run around Roundhay we ended up back at the café, where Paddy completed some stretches and cool down exercises.
After the run everyone went into the café to enjoy a coffee, cake (even a bacon butty was spotted) and a chat/catch up. A great atmosphere, a great experience. As a social group goes there was no negativity, everyone was made to feel welcome and definitely a great start to Saturday morning.
For more information on Leeds Frontrunners follow on Facebook or Twitter (@LFrontrunners).
“Yes the idea came about 6 years ago.”