Seattle Frontrunners

History

Seattle Frontrunners is a running and walking club made up of gay and lesbian members and their friends. We welcome everyone's participation at our bi-weekly meetups in the Greater Seattle Area, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or athletic ability. 

As part of an international running community, we are one of the oldest, largest and most successful LGBTQ running clubs in the world, with several hundred members of all ages.

We got our start in 1983, when the Lesbian Resource Center sponsored Seattle's first annual Gay Pride Run. From this event Seattle Frontrunners was formed shortly after by those who participated. What began as a celebration of our club members has evolved into an important annual fundraiser, now called Run/Walk with Pride, providing us the opportunity to support others in the LGBTQ community.

Check out our 30th anniversary Video to get more insight into our wonderful club

 
 
Seattle Frontrunners have a long, proud history and represent a broad spectrum of the LGBTQ Community.
— Coach Len Tritsch / Seattle Gay News / July 2009

1974

The first Frontrunner Club was started in San Francisco by Jack Baker & Gardner Pond. It was listed as an Introduction to Jogging group in the bi-monthly publication of Lavender U. Bud Budlong and other “joggers,” inspired by Patricia Nell Warren’s book The Frontrunner, named the group Frontrunners.


1980

2nd Frontrunner group forms in New York City. 


1981

Los Angeles Frontrunners is organized.


1982

First Gay Games (I) held in San Francisco promoting Frontrunners and gives way to other Frontrunner clubs springing up around the U.S. and around the world.


1983

Tom, Virginia H. & Rob M. organize a Seattle FR group. They meet discreetly behind Evans Pool. Larry Yok drives from Tacoma to run. That group does not survive.

The Lesbian Resource Center sponsors Seattle’s First Gay Pride Run, which transitions into the now famous, annual Run/Walk With Pride 4K/10K organized by Seattle Frontrunners.


1984

Dick Todd, Kit Warfield and Sue Schafer reincarnate a small SFR group.


1985

“Third time’s a charm” - Sabina Havkins, Phileo McAlexander and Greg Fischer unite in June of 1985 to provide the “kickstart” needed to get the club going and officially begin the Seattle Frontrunner club that continues on to this day.


1986

Meredith Channel promotes our welcoming club, “I found out about SFR through an announcement in the SGN. I had only been in Seattle since July of 1985 and it was a great way to meet new friends and to become a part of a great community!”

 

In March there were 33 members, 17 women (51%) and by November there were 55 members, 13 women (29%). SFR has it’s first T-Shirt, teal with an outline of the Seattle skyline, designed by Phileo McAlexander.

The first Wednesday night seasonal (nice weather) run was started. Attendance was light.

SFR has two, 5 runner teams in the Falls to Gasworks 50-Mile Relay, starting at Mt. Si and ending at Gasworks Park. SFR continues to have teams through the 80’s. 


1987

SFR finds a home at Mae’s Phinney Ridge Café. Someone in the Saturday circle was designated each week to bring a quarter for the pay phone to RSVP for the group.


1988

SFR Saturday morning runners experience a schism with some abandoning breakfast at Mae’s for pastries at the Honeybear coffee house in Wallingford.

 

SFR makes its first memorial gift to Children’s Orthopedic Hospital (now Seattle Children’s Hospital) on behalf of SFR member James Calvo who died in a motorcycle accident.


1990

Gay Games III held in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. SFR, including many women, run the 5/10K . There are some good relay races and individual performances by the SFR Track Team.


1994

Len Tritsch comes on as SFR track coach and prepares the track team for Gay Games IV in New York, which becomes the first time track goes to Gay Games. 


1995

Nicholas Honner moves from Atlanta and revitalizes the now, highly successful, Wednesday night run which attracts 40 -70 runners each week all year round.


1998

Gay Games V held in Amsterdam; SFR dominates track & field events.


1999

Saturday morning coffee after our run and walk moves from the Honeybear to Zoka's.


2000

Seattle Frontrunners goes digital; SFR website was established. Turnout for runs is in the 20’s on Wednesdays and the 70’s on Saturdays.

 

SFR Mark Nagen passes and his parents set up the Mark Nagen Award to be given to a SFR who excels in promoting the club’s mission.


2002

Gay Games VI held in Sydney. A record number of 108 Seattle Frontrunners compete and return home with the, now traditional, a large number medals (over 130 from track & field) outnumbering Sydney Frontrunners in their home city. Many SFR set Gay Games records which stood for many years!


2005

Russell LaMar Jarquet-Acea comes on as the SFR Field coach, helping many Seattle Frontrunners to try, succeed in, and have fun with several field events.


2006

Gay Games VII held in Chicago. SFR sent only a handful of track folks to Chicago, but they brought back plenty of medals and featured in Seattle Gay News, Aug. 11, 2006.

Out Games I held in Montreal. Overall attendance is smaller due to the splitting up of Gay Games and Out Games. About 70 Seattle Frontrunners compete and again SFR dominate track & field events.


2008

SFR participates for the first time in the Ragnar Relay and has had Ragnar teams every year since. In 2014 SFR had 3 teams. The 2 competitive teams finished 3rd and 5th out of 422 teams. Our fun team has also performed well and had lots of fun doing it!


2009

 

Out Games II held in Copenhagen. 37 SFR athletes, age 28 to 84 compete. An unexpected hate crime caused a hand injury to SFR teammate Dean Koga. “SFR resumed competition because they were determined not to let the incident succeed in stopping the OutGames" reports Seattle Gay News (SGN). Dean competed in a relay run the following day.

 

SFR first Underwear Fashion Show hosted by Matthew Love, was and continues to be, a great success raising over 18K for our Run/Walk with Pride beneficiaries.


2010

Gay Games VIII held in Cologne, Germany. A small number of SFR competed in both Laufen (road running & marathons) and Leichtathletic (track & field) reports John Longres.


2012

Go Long is started by Jon Nicholson and Andrew Williams as a long distance training group. In 2015, their Facebook Page (GO LONG) have 114+ members. Trail running is added to the Go Long training runs in 2014. 


2013

Out Games III held in Antwerp, Belgium. This was the track’s last meet with Coach Len. SFR brought back over 70 medals, and Len made sure each SFR got at least one.


2014

 

 

Gay Games IV held in Cleveland/Akron, Ohio. SFR compete in road running and track and field events bringing home medals as well as Frontrunner pride. 

A record of 7 Seattle Frontrunners run the Boston Marathon.

Regular attendance on Wednesday night during the summer grows to 40 people and up to 70 - 100+ on Saturday morning.


2015

February 7th over 140 SFR gather at the Mt. Baker Community Clubhouse to celebrate 30 years of Seattle Frontrunner magic!


To Date, Seattle Frontrunners Have Donated approximatelY $170,000 to the LGBTQ community from the club's Run/Walk with Pride 4K/10K race and Underwear Fashion Show.

Beneficiaries throughout the years have included: the N.W. AIDs Foundation, Lesbian Mothers National Defense Fund, the Yes on Campaign 7 Campaign, Lambert House, The LGBT Community Center, Rainbow City Band, Safe Schools Coalition, Seattle hosted International FR track event, PFLAG, Center for LGBT Health, Team Seattle, Gay City, Chicken Soup Brigade, Three Dollar Bill Cinema, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), and Seattle Area Support Group.