It’s been just over two years now that I have been able to run 5k. Sometimes it’s a bit more, sometimes less but give me enough lead time and I can work up to run that distance without too much issue. I have run by myself, run with my dog, run with my friend and run with my 13 year old on her bike, keeping her judgemental eye on my time and the redness of my complexion. I have run in a few races and I love how they motivate me.
There is one race, however, that motivates me best, the Pride and Remembrance Run, held each year in Toronto on the last Saturday of Pride Week. It was founded in 1996,
The Pride and Remembrance Run has become an annual tradition promoting and fostering community spirit, goodwill, volunteerism and sportsmanship in the LGBT community. (http://priderun.org/remembrance/)
I would like to share the things I love about this race.
First of all, it starts at 10am. This is both good and bad because if it’s going to be a 30 degree day, it’s already 25 by 10. However, asking a few thousand Queers and their friends and allies to show up any earlier than 10am on a Saturday morning of Pride is a joke so go on, sleep in until 8. Have a leisurely coffee and your pre-race snack of choice. Then, start on your hair, make up, ribbons, feathers and rainbows. I personally can’t run in this stuff but it is amazing what people are willing to put on for the show.
I love sneaking quietly out of my friends’ apartment at 9:15 and leaving a fresh pot of coffee for them as they begin to wake up. I love the walk to the starting line at Church and Wellesley, the heart of Toronto’s Gay Village. The runners converge from all corners of this unique residential and commercial neighbourhood. We line up together, teams, individuals, partners, lovers and friends. There is a giddiness to the crowd because this is a Big Gay Run and we are all here together sharing in the serious silliness, coupled with a deep knowledge of past struggle and tragic loss.
Lined up with us are a city counsellor, the Premier of Ontario and two Mayoral candidates. The shifting political sands of the city feel hopeful under our runner clad feet.
There are two start cannons (full of confetti, of course). The first is for the serious people, the under 15 minutes people, the “I’m on my second lap of Queen’s park before you even make it past Bay Street” people. After the second cannon, we are off, trying not to wipe out on multi-coloured paper littering the street and feeling like the wind.
After the first 10 minutes of elation, it’s like any other race. It is too hot and too sunny and I feel like I want to die. But I run, full of joy and of community. I run with these people, who are still too often “those people”, and they are my people.
I finished with a time of 35:30. My phone said it was a 5.5k run. If so, that was about a 6:30/km pace, which is outstanding for me. Or maybe it wasn’t that fast. It doesn’t matter. I’m full of Pride.