The usual dress code for gay and lesbian running group Sydney Frontrunners’ training sessions is singlets and shorts.

But when the Mardi Gras festival rolls around, skirts and cocktail gowns enter the equation as the club holds its famous Little Black Dress Run, with participants encouraged to frock up for the day.

And after some early nerves it’s often male participants who are most eager to get in on the act.

People are apprehensive of it, particularly guys -“ they’re apprehensive about wearing a dress. I know I was, because it’s that macho image, organiser Tony Filippi said of the 5km Centennial Park fun run that takes place next Saturday.

But we all have a good laugh before we start.

Most of the guys brighten it up with feathers and wigs. The girls get really involved too but the boys really go off.

Sydney Frontrunners set up the Little Black Dress Run about five years ago, based on a similar event that’s been running in San Francisco for about 30 years.

As in the United States, the Sydney event is a charity fundraiser, with organisers hoping to raise more than $200 for gay and lesbian youth support group Twenty10 this year.

All are welcome at the Centennial Park event. Sydney Frontrunners is hoping up to 50 walkers and runners take part in the fun and joyous proceedings and the post-run breakfast at Melograno Caf?n Surry Hills.

Runners traditionally add to the camp carry-on with wigs, handbags and makeup, and there are prizes for best dressed, most outrageous outfit and special effort.

Drag diva Dolly Wood will appear on the Centennial Park circuit, but participants are advised not to follow her footwear lead.

Some of them will wear high heels but generally people just wear runners, Filippi said. It’s a long way to go in high heels.

The Little Black Dress Run begins and ends at the water fountain inside the Paddington Gate (near Queen Street) entrance to Centennial Park on Saturday 11 February at 9am. Entry is by $5 donation for runners in costume or $7 otherwise.

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