During social distancing, many are turning to running for physical activity and social connection
The current COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world of sports by storm and put it on hold for an indefinite period of time. With minimal access to resources, athletes at all levels are using alternative ways to continue training, including running.
Here, openly lesbian professional tennis player Alison Van Uytvanck can be seen going for a run with her mother.
Luckily for openly gay runner Adam Dalton, who recently competed in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, not much has changed about his training regimen. Currently residing in Tucson Arizona, Dalton is still running every day. In order to socially distance, he is running alone and exploring new areas to run, "places no sane person would be outdoors which include: through junkyards, railyards, warehouses, factories, power plants, sidewalks next to highways, and remote Sonoran Desert trails."
While he misses his runs with other people, he feels that he has "been effected much less than athletes in other sports and is fortunate to live in an area where he can still run with minimal risk of being in contact with anyone." Being able to continue his training regimen without any major changes has been important for Dalton as he acknowledges that his "routine exercise is a significant factor in his mental well-being."
As many people are turning to running for exercise, Dalton hopes that more people will recognize its potential to be an "enjoyable way to stay healthy and be competitive as opposed to a tedious required task."
Throughout the world, runs have historically been a way to bring people together for a common cause. There is the renowned Race for the Cure to end breast cancer, the Avondale Run and Walk to support kids with special needs, the Mud Run to give aid to soldiers, among many others to raise money and awareness for noteworthy causes.
Each Tuesday from April 21st through May 5th, the newly launched non profit Out Athlete Fund (OutAF), sponsored by Federation Gay Games, will hold its first Tuesday10K Fundraiser to support college runners through a need based grant. International Front Runners (IFR) is promoting this virtual run as a way for its global running community to come together at this time.
When I emailed IFR president Chris Rauchle about his hopes and expectations for the fundraiser, he replied, "our primary goal was to give our members world wide a virtual run that they could all participate in. We have all seen how successful online and social media fundraising has been in the last decade and it would be great if enough people donated to provide some form of support for a few LGBT+ college athletes. Having been a charity fundraiser for LGBT+ causes over the years I know how powerful it can be to use online platforms to raise funds and we wish OutAF every success in their endeavors."
He also stated that "as an LGBT+ running club, we have a duty to support LGBT+ causes to advance LGBT+ people in sport" and "we want to support LGBT+ athletes where possible and connect in fellowship with them around our shared love of sport."
To have had the opportunity to apply for and receive this grant when he was a collegiate runner at Grinnell would have been extremely significant for Dalton. "It recognizes the nexus of sport and diversity and [I] would have really appreciated being able to utilize [it]." The Olympic Marathon Trial runner was not a college standout in his sport and believes that it is not only "important to recognize people who are fast but also recognize people who have unique and compelling stories." By only focusing on the fastest person, "[we] would be missing out on a lot of incredible opportunities."
When asked about the significance of this virtual run, Dalton said "it would be a great way to increase visibility for LGBT+ athletes in a sport that deserves more representation and doesn’t receive enough media attention." Coming together for a common cause can help build a sense of community during this time of uncertainty. While we may not all be able to physically be together for the run, we are still connected to each other as we share the same mission: to support LGBT+ runners.
There are many ways you can help and support this event. To register for the run and/or donate, use the following link: https://www.outathletefund.org/virtualrun. You can also make a personal plea video and post it on your social media. Like and follow OutAF on Facebook (OutAthleteFund) and Instagram (@outathletefund) to stay up to date on the Tuesday10K, see the personal pleas, and to follow and join in on future work the fund will be doing!