By Nicole Abrams
After two years of going virtual, the Front Runners & Walkers San Diego Pride 5K returns in-person on July 16. People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to participate. They are also encouraged to wear their wackest rainbow outfit. The run starts at 8 a.m. at the corner of Centre and University Ave. in Hillcrest and follows the San Diego Pride Parade route along University Ave. into Balboa Park. The San Diego Pride Parade starts right after the run at 10 a.m.
Front Runners & Walkers San Diego (FRWSD) was founded in 1981to create fun and healthy activities for runners and walkers who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community or are allies. For decades, people would gather together in July to run or show support for Pride, but in 2020, the event had to go virtual. Although they could not meet in-person, participants were still able to form a community of supporters online that spanned all across the country and even in different parts of the world.
In 2020 and 2021, 2000 runners participated in the 5K and $48,500 was raised for charity. According to Andy Kleinke, the San Diego Pride 5K race director and Front Runners and Walkers San Diego board member, “Going to the virtual event over the last two years, what we found was that we had participants across the world…And we wanted to continue to allow anybody to participate, wherever they are. So we’ve kept a virtual event this year…10% of our registration so far have been for the virtual event.”
Kleinke has been involved in the Pride 5K since 2013 and took over as race director in 2020, the first year of the pandemic. Kleinke described that year as incredibly rewarding because of the decision of so many people to participate in the event despite the circumstances of the pandemic.
“I was driving to Belleville Park to go run my version of the 5K and I saw people in rainbow tutus and their program T-shirts and they had printed out their numbers…they were running their own pride 5k in the streets of Hillcrest…one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen is people getting out there during the pandemic and running and celebrating Pride,” he said.
Proceeds from the event will go to the San Diego LGBT Center’s Youth Housing Project and San Diego Pride programming. For years, the proceeds from this event have gone to supporting LGBT youth.
“I think it’s still really challenging for LGBT youth to find community and to feel supported,” says Kleinke, “There can be a lot of negative rhetoric directed to the LGBT community and I think that youth are particularly susceptible to that…providing them with services and access to communities is hugely important to make sure that they know that that there is a place for them and that they are just fine and perfect the way that they are and that they’ll find people that will support them no matter how they identify.”
This year, the Pride 5K is aiming to donate over $20,000 to their charity partners. The organization is expecting a record turn-out this year. Registration for the event this July is already outpacing the registration for in-person events in previous years. They are expecting over 1300 runners and walkers on July 16.
“We’re very excited to be returning to an in-person event this year,” said Kleinke. “The Front Runners and Walkers of San Diego has held the Pride 5K for over 30 years, and with the support of our participants and sponsors, even during the pandemic we raised much-needed funds for our charity partners. This year we’re grateful that we’ll be able to come together, to celebrate Pride in a fun and healthy way by running and walking through our community as one. Our event is inclusive of all and we invite everyone to join us on July 16th.”
Registration opened on May 2 and stays open until the morning of the event (if there are still available spots). Participants receive a Pride 5K T-shirt, medal, and race bib.
For more information about the San Diego Pride 5K and how to get involved, visit pride5k.run.
— Nicole Abrams is an intern for San Diego Community Newspaper Group and attends Del Norte High School.