Minutes from the Sixth Front Runner Forum**
Orlando, Florida
October 17-18, 1997

Saturday, October 18, 1997

I. General Session called to order by Gary Fracassi at 12:00 noon on Saturday.

II. Clubs represented and their representatives:

Ann Arbor Front Runners, Rick Jensen

Baltimore Front Runners, Bob Gerchalk

Baylands FrontRunners, Patrick Champagne & Denise Cranney

Berlin FrontRunners, Stefan Huch & Wolfgang Klare

Frontrunners Boston, Alden Clark

Denver Front Runners, David R.

Front Runners Ft. Lauderdale, Phil Bochman

Gainesville Front Runners, Mark Hove

Frontrunners Track Club of Greater LA, Jim Roach

Omaha Front Runners/Walkers, Jim Ogden

Orlando Front Runners, Liz Calio & Bryan Kellenberger

Front Runners Philadelphia, Mike Zuzu & Tim Stockert

Frontrunners Rochester, Phil Amato & Martin Schafer

Front Runners San Diego, Ben Fabian & John Lockhart

San Francisco Front Runners, John Kruse & Jon Borset

Shoreline Frontrunners of Long Beach, Brad Miyasato & Brian Eggert

Sydney Frontrunners, Wayne Morgan

Tampa Bay Frontrunners, Paul Gardner & Nita Ostermann

DC Front Runners, Warren Snaider & Joan Bellsey

III. Patricia Nell Warren, author of the Front Runner, gave opening remarks.

Not long ago this would not have been possible. Not just that people who were gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender were thought of as crazy, but because they were long-distance runners, too. Women weren't allowed to participate in marathons. In 1968 twelve women ran the Boston Marathon, the first women to do so. In 1974 women were sanctioned to run up to 50 miles.

Back then [referring to her time as a distance runner] gay people were still in the closet and still running alone. Now, we have these races in great big cities with hundreds and thousands of people participating. Front Runners has made us proud of and changed many peoples perceptions of crazy.

Ms. Warren and her publicist, Ross DeCastro, spoke of the marvelous network of front runner clubs and the advantage that this network provides as an introduction into the gay and lesbian community in almost every major city they visit. They encouraged us to become more active and more visible in our communities.

IV. Tammy Gappen of Orlando Front Runners gave a talk regarding membership issues and the things that worked and didn't work in Orlando's efforts to grow their membership. Of importance was the emphasis on women in our clubs.

V. A general introduction of each club's representative and a brief description of the size and activities of each club followed.

VI. Brad Miyasato gave a report on the website.

History of the website, its ancestry in the directory and the related problems of a static directory in a dynamic world.

The website has been up for about two years. It currently gets 40 to 100 hits per day.

It currently includes a directory of clubs.

Particularly of use to front runners who are traveling.

Information on individual club events is published to the extent he has it available.

An additional benefit is the interest sparked by people starting clubs in other areas.

Brad asks that we encourage other clubs we know about to submit information if they aren't already represented.

Also, each club is asked to visit the website and check the information presented there regarding their club to make sure it's up to date.

In addition, efforts are underway to get our own domain name such as

VII. Wayne Morgan made a presentation regarding the issue of IFR representation at the Federation of Gay Games. Currently the federation board is made up of 41 people. Some represent a region, some represent a sport, some are just representing themselves. The board meets once a year.

Some questions were raised such as

Why aren't we [IFR] represented on the board?

Why is the 10K being run on a track in Amsterdam?

Sydney has considered starting an IFR Alliance and suggested this idea be the starting point and wishes US clubs to participate. He also pointed out that there is a cost to be a member of FOGG. Currently it is $100 for a two-year membership.

In addition to simply agreeing to become a member, there are rules that we would have to follow such as: the group must be international, must have a stated purpose and function, must have bylaws and must have a written history.

VIII. This led to a discussion of the advantages/disadvantages costs/benefits of becoming more organized. It was pointed out that IFR became more organized and loosely run by a committee formed out of the Forum held in San Francisco in 1995. The committee was organized by function.

Other points of discussion included budget, regionalization, involvement of a majority of the clubs, involvement of women, involvement of North Americans vs. Europe, Asia and Australia. Issues such as whether all FR clubs would be required to "join" IFR.

Finally, a list of reasons pro-formalization was developed.

1. Membership in FOGG

2. Tax benefits in many countries

3. Become more well-known by virtue of being better organized

4. Ability to attract more corporate sponsorships

5. More consistency for the FR Forums

6. Better support network for clubs just getting started

7. Better communications

8. Financial advantages to smaller clubs

9. Outreach programs.

The issues against formalization centered around

1. Would individual club autonomy be sacrificed or compromised?

2. Would IFR have rule making authority over individual clubs?

3. Do runners naturally resist organization?

4. How do we achieve gender parity?

It was noted that the point of bringing this issue to the group was to get a representative on the board of FOGG.

After some additional discussion, it was motioned and agreed that IFR is the organization best suited to represent runners' interests on the board of FOGG and to that end, we would take the necessary steps to become qualified.

The main points that we needed to meet were

1. A mission statement

International Front Runners is an affiliation of Front Runner clubs which promotes the sports of running, walking and related athletic activities for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders and their supporters; which supports the formation activities of Front Runner clubs; which supports communication between Front Runner clubs and the wider community; which facilitates interclub events; and which selects a representative to the Federation of Gay Games.

2. Annual meetings must be held

3. Bylaws will be adopted

The various representatives and other volunteers would communicate as necessary to develop a draft of bylaws to be discussed and approved by the clubs.

IX. Selection of the next International Front Runner Invitational

Presentations were made by Baylands FrontRunners and Berlin FrontRunners to be chosen to host the next Invitational in 2000. After several ballots, Berlin won.

Sunday, October 19, 1997

X. Discussion of the upcoming Gay Games in Amsterdam. The suggestion of social events such as a picnic, fun run, etc. was made and it was suggested that Vondel Park was the logical choice for location. Other questions as to logistics would be worked out such as the day (probably Tuesday), time (probably noon) or after the 10K. Also, alternative plans in the event of inclement weather.

XI. Discussion of money followed. Currently IFR has no budget, but is incurring costs which are funded by individuals or individual clubs. It was agreed that the costs associated with IFR and the priority of funding these costs was:

1. Registration of the domain name $100. Subsequent annual costs to maintain the website and renewal of the domain name $400.

2. Cost to produce and mail packets with organization information to new clubs $200 per year.

3. Membership to the Federation of Gay Games $100.

Since we currently don't have a treasury, the suggestion was to donate money to defray these costs. It was agreed that Brad would handle the money to be applied as listed above.

X. Alden gave an update on new club packets and would coordinate with Brad to place all critical information online. It was also suggested that where necessary, the information be translated into English.

XI. It was unanimously decided that the name of this organization would forever kept "International Front Runners."

XII. The US was divided into three regions and delegates volunteered to represent each region.

Region I (loosely the north east) is represented by Warren Snaider

Region II (the south and central) is represented by Rick Jensen

Region III (the west) is represented by Brad Miyasato

XIII. Selection of the club to host the next Front Runner Forum

Past forum sites were

Chicago 1989, Toronto 1991, Washington DC 1993, San Francisco 1995, Orlando 1997.

Two cities made presentations for consideration: Philadelphia and San Diego.

Philadelphia was chosen.

A further discussion took place in light of the FOGG requirement that we hold annual meetings and would it be necessary to hold a Forum every year? In general, it was decided that we should think about it, but that the bi-annual forums would also constitute the business meetings in those years. In the alternating years, a business meeting would be held coincidental to the Gay Games or the Front Runner Invitational. This meeting would address the necessary business of IFR but would not be of the same scope as a Forum.

XIV. Club Operations

A general round table discussion about the current operations of each club including cost of membership, what the membership includes, organization of the club, election of officers. Does the club have liability insurance and where does it get it. Does the club do any training or conditioning for the benefit of members who run races. Does the club hold business meetings? How does the club get and keep volunteers?

The Forum was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.


** These minutes have been modified slightly for online publication.