More than 20 years ago, aquatic sports competitors at Gay Games II in San Francisco had so much fun that they came up with the idea to hold a gay and lesbian swim meet the following year in San Diego. That first grassroots meet eventually evolved into the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA), a successful global organization that promotes participation in aquatic sports by LGBT people and hosts the popular IGLA championships each year in different cities. It's been a big boon to gay swimming and aquatic sports.
Can the same formula be applied to track and field?
Andrew Bundy thinks so. He's the president of the planning committee for the first international Pride Track and Field Meet to be held on Saturday, July 7, 2007 at Cox Stadium at San Francisco State University. Bundy and his teammates on the San Francisco Track and Field Club are creating and hosting this first event in the hopes that, like the first IGLA championship event held back in 1987, it will herald the beginning of a yearly track and field competition for the LGBT community, and perhaps even an international track and field organization modeled after IGLA.
"[I first got the idea] when I competed at the Gay Games last July in Chicago," says Bundy. "I was talking with some friends of mine on Tsunami [the SF-based swimming and water polo team] about how they trained for the Gay Games and how they handled the off time in between Gay Games. They said that they have annual swim meets put on by IGLA."
Realizing that gay track and field have no other major events than the Gay Games and OutGames, as well as far fewer local meets to compete in than more established team sports like soccer or softball, Bundy approached his teammates and asked if they would be willing to host an LGBT track and field event.
They were. And thus a new yearly gay sporting event was born. The Pride Track and Field Meet will be a USATF-sanctioned, one-day athletic competition, including sprinting events from 100 to 5000 meters, a full field of throwing and jumping events, a selection of relay events, and a Pentathlon.
Like the first Gay Games held back in 1982 and the first IGLA event held in 1987, the first Pride Track and Field Meet may be a somewhat modest affair. Bundy says the team is setting a realistic goal of getting 100 to 150 competitors to the first event. But if that seems small, keep in mind that the first IGLA event in San Diego drew 120 people (see IGLA: History" for an amusing blow-by-blow account of the group's formation and growth).
It's perhaps not surprising that the Pride Track and Field Meet is starting with the San Francisco Track and Field Club. After all, it was Dr. Tom Waddell, founder of the Gay Games, who first put together San Francisco's team of track and field athletes to compete in the first Gay Games in 1982. Those athletes enjoyed competing together so much that they stayed together and formed the San Francisco Track and Field Club. Today, track and field remains a popular Gay Games event, and Bundy and his teammates hope to extend that popularity in the LGBT community by holding competitive events every year instead of every four years.
Can it be done? RealJock.com hopes so. But like every new effort in LGBT sports, it needs community support. The Pride Track and Field meet welcomes competitors of all ages and abilities. See how you can get involved below.
Get Involved: Compete, Volunteer, or Cheer
The Pride Track and Field Meet will be held on Saturday, July 7 at Cox Stadium in San Francisco. Registration costs $25 before April 30 and $35 from May 1 to June 30 and can be done online at PrideMeet.org or via mail. Registration after June 30 will cost $45 and must be done on-site at the event. Follow the links below to get involved in the first annual Pride Track and Field Meet:
Or, of course, just go and cheer on the competitors.
The PrideMeet.org web site offers some discount hotel rates and air flights for registrants. The organization will also provide some hosted housing on a first come, first serve basis.
Side Note on Front Runners
If you're a runner and need some people to train with, consider joining your local Front Runners chapter. Front Runners is an amazing international running club for LGBT people (and their friends), with chapters in cities all over the world.