Manchester Front Runners
The Manchester Frontrunners is the only LGBTQ+ running club based in Manchester. The Frontrunners are a community of runners that welcomes members of any gender or sexuality with open arms as part of their goal to make running a sport that is inclusive to anyone and everyone.
“We’re Manchester Frontrunners! The club was formed in 2005 and is part of a wider network of over 100 Frontrunner clubs across the world, 11 of which are in the UK. The ‘Frontrunner’ name comes from the 1974 novel “The Front Runner” by Patricia Nell Warren, one of the first mainstream and commercially successful gay novels. Our club is predominantly a running club for the LGBTQ+ community, welcoming anyone of any gender or sexuality and we currently have c.120 members. We’re based in Manchester, with two main weekly runs; one from the Sugden Sports Centre just off Oxford Rd and one from Longford Park between Chorlton and Stretford.”
How long has Manchester Frontrunners been in action?
“We’re 17 years old. We celebrate our birthday on the first May bank holiday each year with a 10km race – It’s a Piece of Cake 10k – in Boggart Hole Clough Park, followed by a party on Canal Street in the evening. It’s great to celebrate together with our clubmates, and often members from across the UK and Europe travel to celebrate with us!”
Why is the club so important to Manchester and the local community?
“Sporting environments can be intimidating, and this is even more true for some LGBTQ+ people who haven’t had positive experiences of sport in school. Our club provides a safe and welcoming environment for people to be active, make friends and stay heathy. Many of our members are not originally from Manchester and people come to us to make new friends with common interests in the city. We’re lucky to be part of a very vibrant LGBTQ+ sports network in Manchester where there is something for everyone. We also take part in local and regional events, such as the Manchester Area Cross Country League, where we race with and against running clubs from across the region, raising the visibility of LGBTQ+ people in the sport.”
What are Manchester Frontrunners most proud of as a club?
“Being inclusive of everyone regardless of running ability and providing support to everyone to achieve their goals, whilst being mindful of our members’ mental health and well-being.”
What does running mean to you as a member of the club?
“For me, running is about two things; socialising and challenging myself. The club provides an invaluable social support network to all of our members, and some of my best friends have been made through the club. Being part of the club definitely gives a feeling of belonging and being part of something. Whilst our club is very social, running is also very personal, and success is a direct result of what you alone put in to achieving a goal. However, the support and motivation from being part of a club makes this a whole lot easier.”
Do you have any tips for people looking to join running clubs?
“Decide what it is you want to get out of the club first – running has grown in popularity over recent years and there really is a club to suit everyone. Whether you want to focus on serious training, do a weekly 5k with a group of likeminded people, or something in between. At Frontrunners we think we have something for everyone – for example, we have a weekly track session at the Manchester Regional Arena where we focus on speedwork and running form, but we also have 2 post run socials each week where you can go out for a drink, a bite to eat and a chat. Once you’ve found a club that ticks your boxes go along and try it out. It’s always daunting doing something for the first time, and we all worry about whether or not we wont be fast enough etc, but everyone was new once, and any fears will soon be allayed after your first run!”