It’s been quite a year for Jake Fedorowski. The non-binary marathoner first appeared on our radar last June, when they created a special inclusion guide to running, in an effort to ensure that road races create safe environments for all runners.
Today, five of the six largest marathons in the world allow non-binary runners to compete in their own division, including Boston, which Fedorowski ran, and finished, last month.
Now, Fedorowski is taking on a new challenge. This week, they launched the Queer Running Society, a group meant to advocate for LGBTQ inclusion and representation in the world of competitive running.
The group aims to connect queer running communities and make the overall terrain more LGBTQ-friendly.
“We realized we had an opportunity to connect the queer running communities and use our collective voice to push for more systemic change,” Fedorowski told Outsports. “The ultimate goal is for the running industry to affirm all gender and sexually diverse individuals. Queer folks, especially the trans and non-binary community, should be able to participate and thrive as their authentic selves, and QRS is here to help make that a reality.”
While the Frontrunners are the most well-known inclusive running group (operating outposts in 40 states and around the world), QRS’ website includes listings of many other clubs across the U.S.
QRS focuses on all sorts of disciplines, such as trail running and track and field. Fedorowski wants to find out what queer runners need through surveys and research, as well as direct feedback.
In addition to Fedorowski, there are eight other prominent out runners on the board, including Mikah Meyer, who ran across Mississippi for LGBTQ rights.
The formation of QRS comes at a crucial time for the running industry, which is struggling to appeal to younger generations. Running events have seen a sizable decline in participants under 30 over the last five years. According to RunSignup’s 2022 Annual Industry Report, RaceTrends, participation from the 18-29 age group fell by nearly 28 percent between 2018 and 2021.
With 20 percent of Gen Z Americans identifying as LGBTQ, according to Gallup, Fedorowski believes appealing to queer runners is key for the sport’s long-term viability.
“Right now, representation is crucial. Not only does it push back against the intensifying anti-queer rhetoric, legislation, and policies, it shows the next generation that the queer running community has every right to participate as their authentic selves,” they said in a press release.
Along with advocating for inclusion, Fedorowski is keeping up their own race schedule. Early next month, they are running their first half-marathon trail race in Whistler, the host mountain resort for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
“It’s been a wild journey after falling into the world of advocacy,” said Fedorowski. “Running Boston this year was a huge highlight. I’ve met some incredible people and look forward to continuing to push for change .”
You can follow Jake Fedorowski on Instagram.