The London Frontrunners is the largest LGBT sports club in Europe, providing a running community inclusive of diverse sexual and gender identities as well as a range of experience levels. The London Frontrunners were found in 1995 as a part of the International Front Runners which is an umbrella organization for LGBT walking and running groups across the globe.
The first Front Runner club was founded in San Francisco, born out of the Lavender U. which was a publication that advertised and promoted free classes and forms of education. The official first run was in January 1974, and over the next couple years, it would come to establish itself as a formal running club. This first iteration of the Front Runners sparked interest in New York in the 1980s, and soon branches of the club began to pop-up around the world.
The London Frontrunners was inspired by the Chicago branch of the International Front Runners. When London Frontrunner founder Mark Forest moved to Chicago with his partner, he was looking for a way to meet new people and get involved in the community, and it was then he ran across the Chicago Frontrunners. When he moved to London, he figured he could start his own Frontrunner running club here in London.
The various Frontrunner organizations have helped bridge the gap between LGBT individuals and sport, particularly running. While athletics has appeared closed to LGBT individuals at times in history, the Frontrunners bring an openness and positivity that embraces physical fitness and community. The London Frontrunners particularly have made it a goal to pursue the betterment of its members, not just in terms of physical health but mental health as well. Offering LGBT and mental health resources to its members as well as being an active member of the England Athletics Mental Health Ambassador Program, the London Frontrunners aims to promote holistic health.
The London Frontrunners is a membership-driven organization, but it offers three free runs for members considering joining. They offer runs on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday in places such as Regent’s Park, Hyde Park, and the South Bank. And while it is a running organization, the group often goes out to eat and drink after the runs, in addition to various social events throughout the year. For more information about the London Frontrunners, their runs, and community involvement, visit londonfrontrunners.org. Happy running!