“Joining Dublin Front Runners is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my ‘gay’ life,” says Eric
This article was originally published in GCN Issue 318 (June 2016), which is available to read online here.
Established in 2005, Dublin Front Runners are Ireland’s oldest LGBT running club, with a membership of around 180 people. Runners – and walkers too, since the establishment of a new walking group – of all abilities and ambitions meet weekly to train and socialise afterwards.
As they gear up for their annual Dublin Pride Run, and a training programe, Couch to 5k, to prepare untrained participants for the event, members of the club tell Ciara McGrattan what being a Dublin Front Runner means to them. Photos by Mattia Pelizzari.
“I wasn’t in a good place a couple of years back, but I just kept running and running. I have to say it completely got rid of all my demons.”
Sandra is a sporty 43 year-old who joined the club to meet other people. After playing football with Dublin’s Phoenix Tigers through the years, she decided to join the Dublin Front Runners in 2013 and says she hasn’t looked back since.
When she did her first 5K she though she would die (“I wasn’t running fit, I was soccer fit”) but within a couple of months, with training from the club, she was flying.
She is a strong believer in the crucial role of phyisical activity on positive mental health. She describes running as a “free medicine” and encourages anyone with mental health problems to get involved in sports. Sandra coaches the group’s Coach to 5K.
“What I like is that people don’t look at your ability, that you can run 10k in less than an hour – if you run two hours they nicely will wait!”
Patricia moved to Ireland from the the Netherlands in 2005. After arriving she volunteered in Outhouse in an attempt to become acquainted with Dublin’s LGBT community. She began running to lose weight (evenutally losing a whopping seven stone) and soon became involved with the Dublin Front Runners. Patricia was attracted to idea of running with like-minded people in a group that prizes the enjoyment of running over competitiveness. She says the club helped fill the role of an extended family, something she truly missed after moving to Ireland.
She also likes how the group kindly wait for her finish (she’s normally last across the finishing line) before dashing across to the Phoenix Park’s Vistor Centre for their weekly post-run cake and catch-up session.
Patricia points out that the group accommodates all fitness levels: “We have our walking division, so anybody who can at least walk for half an hour can join us.”
She also mentions that the group is actively seeking some younger members. “We just noticed that our group is getting a bit older and we seem not to attract younger people. I think maybe ten o’clock on a Saturday morning is maybe not the best advertisement we could have! Still, all levels are welcome in our club and we’re all very supportive. We’ll take them under our wings.”
“Joining Dublin Front Runners is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my ‘gay’ life. Now I feel a sense of belonging here in Ireland.”
Eric Reyes is a 41 year-old clinical nurse manager. Originally from the Philippines, he has lived in Ireland for 15 years. He’s been a member of the Dublin Front Runners for a year after spending a long time trying to pluck up the courage to contact the group and sign up.
According to Eric, many gay Filipinos are uninterested in sport, making it difficult for him to connect with potential teammates.
He was attracted to running because it is something one can do alone, but eventually he became tired of running on his own, and so worked up the courage to join the DFR. Eric says found a sense of belonging with the Front Runners that he had been looking for since moving to Ireland.
How To Join Dublin Front Runners
Dublin Front Runners is a running club for LGBT runners and their friends. Runners of all abilities are welcome, whether beginners or experienced, recreational or competitive. Their Saturday and Wednesday runs, along with Fartlek training, offer something for everyone.
Every first Saturday of the month the Dublin Front Runners host a new members run so everyone can get a sense of what the club is all about. Meeting at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park at 10am, you can join them for a run – or a walk, with their newly-established walking group.
The hugely popular annual Dublin Front Runners Pride Run takes place on June 17 at 7.30pm, raising funds for Gay Switchboard. Register at the DFR website to be part of the run now!
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