With its weekly sessions in South Liverpool due to restart this month and new beginner courses on the horizon, we caught up with Mitch Hawkins from Liverpool Frontrunners to talk fundraising, friendly rivalry and why anyone can get involved in running.
So, tell us about Liverpool Frontrunners…
“Liverpool Frontrunners was established in 2015 and from 2016 we have been based in Sefton Park, South Liverpool. We were created to provide a safe, relaxed and fun space for LGBTQ+ runners in the Liverpool City Region to meet up.”
What is it you aim to achieve through the club?
“We aim to encourage participation in running in the LGBTQ+ community, throughout the Liverpool City Region. We recognise that there are often barriers to participation in sport for our community, but we are there to prove that anyone can do it.”
What makes Liverpool Frontrunners different from other running clubs?
“Our main difference is that we are not a formal running club, we are an informal social running group. We are not there to train hard, we are there for a giggle and a gossip whilst we enjoy the outdoors. Our runs consist of up to three short-ish loops back to the start point, so people can do as much or as little as this wish. Nobody is left behind.”
So where does the fun start and how can people get involved?
“Every Wednesday at 6.30pm we run from Greenbank Sports Academy to Sefton Park. These sessions haven’t been going ahead for a few months, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but we are finally getting back to running in the park in August, and we can’t wait!
“We’d love new people to come and connect with us on our social channels, to see all the stuff going on and for details of our forthcoming beginners course. Absolutely anyone can get involved – you don’t have to live around here, you can come from other parts of the city region – and we have runners of all abilities, from those just taking the first steps in running to others who run 100-mile Ultra Marathons in the mountains.”
How did the club manage to stay connected during lockdown and with COVID-19 restrictions?
“Whilst the COVID-19 situation has been a challenge for everyone, we’ve stayed active through Virtual Challenges (in one which we collectively ran from John O’Groats to Land’s End) and Weekly Zoom meetups.”
You’ve recently been fundraising for LCR Pride Foundation – thank you! Can you tell us a bit more about that? We heard there was a little friendly rivalry…
“We saw the Mersey Marauders were aiming to run and raise money for the LCR Pride Foundation, which was an amazing idea, so we thought we would join the party and got the Liverpool Tritons rugby folks on board as well. The aim was for our clubs to each run 500 miles by what would have been the day of Pride in Liverpool. We all reached our 500 mile targets and between us we raised £1,895. Rivalry? I couldn’t possibly comment…”
That’s an amazing amount and you’re all (very healthy and energetic) superstars. Speaking about health. This year our theme is ‘Young At Heart’, which promotes the right for LGBT+ people to live happy, healthy and carefree lives, regardless of how they identify. How important do you think inclusive sport is in facilitating this and how are you breaking down barriers for LGBT+ people?
“Sport is pivotal in physical and mental wellbeing, I cannot emphasise enough how much sport has helped many of our community. We in the LGBTQ+ community are often put off sport very early in life, but whatever age, build, ability you are, inclusive sport can provide a wonderful space to meet new people, have fun and get fitter in the process.”
Are there other clubs like you in the region? Is there good camaraderie with other inclusive sports teams locally?
“There are some great Inclusive Sports clubs locally – including Mersey Marauders Football, Liverpool Tritons Rugby and Touch Rugby Teams, The Rollerbirds and OutdoorLads. Liverpool Frontrunners is one of approximately 130 running/walking groups worldwide linked through the International Frontrunner Community. We have regular get-togethers with the other clubs and have a very close friendship with our sister club in Manchester.”
Image courtesy of Liverpool Frontrunners