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    Happy 40th Anniversary, SF FrontRunners!

    tonyThe San Francisco FrontRunners, the founding chapter of the world’s LGBT and straight allies running organization, is an impressively strong franchise. SF FrontRunners is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with a grand dinner and celebration on December 6 from 6 to 11pm at the General’s Residence at Fort Mason. Members hope to attract many prior years’ participants to join in the celebration. One of the presenters will be SF FrontRunners co-founder Gardiner Pond.

    The name of the organization was taken from Patricia Nell Warren’s 1974 book, “The Front Runner,” about an affair between a coach and his gay Olympic runner. When Warren wrote the book, she identified as straight, but she came out as a lesbian later in her life. The book was a popular novel read by hundreds of thousands of primarily gay men, and it has been translated into ten languages.

    The title of the book (and name of our local organization) comes from a nickname for someone who tends to run near the front of the pack in a footrace, particularly at the early stages of longer races. Often, a front-runner ends up much later in the group of runners as a result of exhaustion from pushing too much at the beginning.

    The biggest run of the week is every Saturday, with as many as 85 runners participating. There are smaller runs in the financial district on Tuesdays and in the Castro on Thursdays. People sometimes gather after runs for brunches and other things. There are movie nights, a Halloween gala, and additional regular social events. The organization is not only a great resource for runners, but it is also a resource for those who are seeking walking events. Their website, www.sffr.org, even lists events in Europe.

    Ned Moran, a current officer, was quite helpful in telling what he values about the FrontRunners. Ned has participated for the last 6 years. He became involved with FrontRunners just 2 weeks after having moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles. As a result of his local participation, he will now seek out runs by other FrontRunners clubs elsewhere. Ned said that the hardest part for him is making the time to train and run while maintaining a busy work schedule.

    Ned’s favorite aspect of the organization is the camaraderie. “The sport itself is a solitary endeavor,” he said, “so adding a positive social aspect with it is a netting that brings so many runners together.” He added that most of his friends here have come through the club.

    One annual event that is particularly amusing is the Little Black Dress Run, which took place this year in September.  Not only is it a silly run through the park, but it also has post-run awards for such things as “Most Matronly” and “Most Flamboyant.” Ned said that he wore Jackie Onassis sunglasses with his little black dress this year. He joked, “My only known appearance on YouTube happens to be in my running dress from 2009.”

    Ned reminds that visitors, tourists, and newbies are very much welcome. There is also a significant outreach to recruit more women. Ned is proud that the organization attracts people from so many different backgrounds. As he indicates, San Francisco FrontRunners, which got its start in the 70s, is still in its prime. For more information about the organization and its 40th anniversary event, please visit http://www.sffr.org/page/show/477310-home

    Tony Jasinski is the former president of the San Francisco Gay Basketball League.