As a kid at home in England, I was not much of a runner. During school cross-country runs, my friends and I would run to my place, go inside for an hour to watch TV, and then go back at the end of the race and pretend we had done the run.
In England, it was so painfully cold in the mornings that when I would go out for a run, I would last about 10 minutes before I would turn around and go back home again. I was at university in Cardiff in Wales and doing quite a bit of running, but the cold was still a problem. When I first arrived in Australia, the climate was so nice and there were so many nice places to run, it was really easy then to get into running.
I moved here in 2000 after travelling through Asia, and my plan was to stay only for a few months and then go back to the UK. Well, that never happened and I stayed. The first place I lived was Bronte, and I remember the first time I ever did the Bronte to Bondi cliff run. I was so blown away by how beautiful it was, and I knew then I had done the right thing in deciding to stay.
I was also running at Centennial Park at the time and kept seeing the Frontrunners, and thought about joining. While I had never run as part of a group, Frontrunners for me was more about meeting people as I didn’t know anyone in Sydney. It took off from there and, four years later, I am still with them.
Frontrunners has about 100 members, and has regular runs in Centennial Park on Wednesday nights, as well as Saturday and Sunday mornings. There is now a Tuesday lunchtime group as well, and we are seeing whether there is the demand for a new Frontrunners group in Western Sydney. If the interest is there, we will seriously look at setting one up. We have another new group with Baby Frontrunners, where parents run together with their children in prams. That’s becoming very popular.
Some of the runners in the group are exceptional and are very encouraging and willing to help out. I always find that really inspiring. There are also some runners who come more for the social aspect and turn up with dogs and even on bikes. After the weekend runs, a large group of us head to Melograno Caf?n Surry Hills for breakfast. It has become something of a ritual with the club now.
Frontrunners has such a great social circle of people. Not only do you get to run with friends, but you are also improving as a runner all the time. I have got so much out of the training, which has allowed me to become a better runner, and I have made some wonderful friends, too.
At the AGM in May, the role of president was available. I figured the club had given me so much, so it was nice to give something back and I took the position. It is a commitment and there is work to be done, but there is a really good committee and everyone does their job, so it does not feel like a hardship.
Whenever there is a big race coming up, like the Half Marathon, our numbers increase and we do longer runs, with both faster and slower groups. What I would like is for Frontrunners to be more inclusive, with our runs welcoming new people, as I do like to think we are one of the more friendly of the sporting groups in town.
Next year is a big one as both the Montr? 1st World Outgames and Chicago Gay Games are on, and we are promoting both equally. Some of our runners are going to both, some just to one. I am heading to Chicago, but I am getting over an injury to my Achilles tendon at the moment. Over the years, the tendon has taken a hammering, so I plan to start off on some smaller runs and in about two months’ time be back on the longer runs. It was interesting that I didn’t realise just how much I love running until I was told I couldn’t do it. The thing I love most about running is that it’s low fuss. You put on your running clothes and shoes, and just go.
Interview by John Burfitt
For more information visit Sydney Frontrunners’ website.