Greetings, SF FrontRunners!
Mid-October found me in St. Louis for the International FrontRunners Conference—plus a Rock N Roll Half-Marathon and playoff games between the Giants and the Cardinals. My race time was relatively swift on an unfamiliar course with lots of twists and turns thanks to my very dignified strategy: sport a Giants jersey and taunt the Cardinals fans in the pack: “you gonna let a San Francisco fan twice your age overtake you? C’mon, pick up the pace!” It was very motivating for all parties. And the course was largely scenic. The sun poked out over the famous Arch as we all crowded into our corrals for the 7am start. Stately brick Victorian mansions lined the streets of the Soulard and Shaw districts, with thick canopies of oak and gingko trees dropping their fall foliage onto still lush lawns. And I’ve never seen so many school-age children turn out for support—doing choreographed gymnastics and ballet routines, brandishing homemade signs (“Run, stranger, run!” and “Paul Ryan ran by here 2 ½ hours ago!”), distributing water and Gatorade with great earnestness, and cheering loudly.
Back to the International FrontRunners Conference. Given the Midwestern location, it’s not surprising that most of those in attendance hailed from the Jello Belt (a blobby line running north-south, just west of the Mississippi). Delegates from clubs in Kansas City, Austin, Chicago, Houston, and of course St. Louis were there, plus reps from DC, Boston, and patched in via Internet, Sydney and Ottawa (think the “cone of silence” from old Get Smart episodes; technology has not come as far as we’d like to think. Sigh.). In addition to planning for major gay sporting events happening next year in Antwerp, Belgium and Akron, Ohio, the most engaging part of the four-hour meeting was sharing best practices among the clubs. Our friends from Austin (link) have a whiz-bang registration system in place for new members. The folks from Boston (link) have a well-organized model for charity runs that’s been in place for over two decades. And in St. Louis, FR board terms are two years, instead of just one. I regret that there were no reps from cities with larger FR populations, such as Seattle, New York, Los Angeles. It would have been terrific to hear what keeps them running strong.
As we are the founding chapter of FrontRunners worldwide (link), other clubs look to San Francisco as a leader. And we don’t disappoint. Relative to other clubs, SFFR offers social events practically every week, boasts about 220 paid members, allows members to recoup their dues (and actually make money) through discounts with multiple businesses (link), and spans the broadest spectrum of “bipedal activity”—from walkers to runners to track and field competitors.
Huge thanks go to current and former vice-presidents Brian Ray and Dominic Paris, who have spent inordinate amounts of time—and still do—on SFFR’s dazzling website and communications. The branded membership and outreach cards that Brian designed always impress, and the FrontRunners from other chapters were eager to see them.
Be proud of SFFR! We are a national leader. If you’re reading this column, you’re probably among the club’s more active members. Support SFFR by running for office next year (link) and buying tickets to the end-of-the-year banquet on December 7 (link). What are you waiting for? Pick up the pace!
San Francisco FrontRunners