The Pride and Remembrance run started 21 years ago raising $300 for the LGBT community. Over the years, it has raised more than one million dollars for various beneficiaries that serve the community. This year, the goal is to raise a quarter of a million for Rainbow Railroad, the 519 Center and the Inside Out film festival. As part of this effort, Pace & Mind runner’s Mark MacDonald and Fabio Fernandez are fundraising and assembling a team of runners for this challenging 5k race. Here they talk about their efforts to raise awareness and why they love the even so much.
Kim: How did you get involved with the Pride and Remembrance run?
Fabio: Basically, I started running in 2002 and actually the very first distance I ever ran, was the 5k distance it was the YMCA challenge, I did one of the legs of the 20k relay and in training for that, it inspired me to continue running. Over the years, I’ve done several half marathon, marathons, different distances and probably the 5k that I’ve done the most is the Pride & Remembrance run. I can’t even remember the number of times I’ve done it to be honest!
I was co-chair of the Pride and Remembrance Association for one year about 10 years ago. At about that time it was still pretty much a grass root run. It was largely supported by the LGBT community, but what’s great to see is that now it’s more competitive. Way back then we used to have those discussion of how we can make it more competitive and how you attract the running community. Now, it’s a run that is one of the most competitive runs in the city, but all those years ago, we were talking about how to attract people from the running community into the run. It’s always been an important run for me. The other important thing are the beneficiaries that the run races money for every year. It’s great because it raises money for all kinds of organisations within the community. Another interesting thing about the Pride and Remembrance Association is that now they have a foundation, and that is an ongoing fund to support charities at any given point throughout the year, it doesn’t have to be during the Pride run. It’s my favourite 5k run!
Mark: My uncle got me into running, I used to do as much as I can on the treadmill, 2 minutes here and 3 minutes there as well as outdoor running. He’s the one that encouraged me to do my first race which was the Sporting Life 10k. I initially thought we were going to race it together but once the horn when off, he just went into race mode and jet off. He left me in his dust! I promised myself that would be the last time he beat me at a race. Eventually, I joined the Running Room and got into one of their clinics to build up my speed and endurance. I also later teached the clinic to share my passion and experience with up and comers and kept progressing from there.
Like Fabio, I’ve done the Pride and Remembrance run before, the first time I did it was 2 years ago in 2014, the year of World Pride. I came out later in life, I didn’t come out until probably 4 or 5 years ago, so the Pride and Remembrance run was never something I wanted to do because for me doing it meant acknowledging that I’m actually gay. It wasn’t until 2014, until I was comfortable in my own skin and being out with friends and family that I decided that it was the year I would come do it. It was just the most fun race I’ve ever been to! When that horn blows out, the confetti starts pouring all over the place and the street are lined with so many people, it just feels great. This year I decided to join as co-captain and I’m trying to raise awareness for the team. I’m also trying to get all my Durham people to sign up for the race so that they can come out and see just how great this race actually is!
Kim: Do people run at this event for the charity of for the race itself?
Fabio: I think it’s both. I think that people that are within the LGBT community are probably more aligned to the causes that it raises money for. I think for the people outside of the LGBT community they might be inspired to support them and raise money for it. But looking at myself, when I register for a race, I usually register to run the race. I think most people do that, I think that as a runner you will always have your prefered races to raise money for.
Mark: For me, one of the ways that I’m getting a lot of my friends out to this race as well is that I’m trying to create the awareness that this is a race where you can dress as little as you want, or dress up as much as you want or wear the craziest outfit in the world and you’re not going to be judged. This is one of those races where you can come out and choose to have a great time and do it for fun. You can dress up for the cause, or you can come out and race and challenge yourself, this is one of those races where you can try to PB and challenge yourself against others in the running community that are hard core runners, and get an amazing meal after.
Kim: How did the race evolved to be competitive?
Fabio: At the time when I was on the Board, we had started advertising within the running community in places like my nextrace.com. Also, for many years, including this year, the race kit pick-up is at the Runners Shop which is really plugged into the running community. I think that played a big role.
Kim : Why was it important for you to have a team from Pace & Mind in the race again this year?
Mark: I wasn’t part of the team last year when they put it together, but for me, since there are people within the P&M group that are gay, I think it’s important for the team to go out and support their fellow P&M family that happen to be gay as well.
Kim: How do you think this race positions itself within the running community?
Fabio: I think that it has a really good reputation because of the atmosphere, because of Pride and because of the amazing food afterwards. I also think that people truly believe that it’s the hardest 5k in the city. It’s a hot day usually, it’s at 10am, a lot of people are hung over, you are doing 2 loops of Queen’s Park which is not completely flat, it has a little bit of incline and decline so I think it does have that reputation of being difficult. It’s hot and hard!
Kim: Will you continue doing this race for many years?
Fabio: For sure. There are very few opportunities to do something for the community that is related to wellness. This is an event that is around wellness and during Pride where there a lot of parties and beer garden, it makes it different than the other events. It is a separate event entirely from the Pride organising committee, it just happens to be during the Pride weekend. You are giving back to the community but you are also giving back to yourself, whether that’s your first 5k you’ve ever done, whether it’s your favourite 5k or you are walking the course [3k]
Mark: I think it’s a great way to kick off the Pride weekend. You have the dyke march later on that day, you’ve got the parade the next day. It’s a nice intro to the weekend itself!
About Kim Bergeron, Writer
Kim Bergeron – Kim started running during the harsh winters of Quebec City to clear her mind from complex law studies. Her hobby evolved to a passion when she started racing in Toronto in 2012; progressing from a half-marathon to marathon. She loves meeting runners and discovering their motivation and passion for the sport. She writes about all things running at paceandmind.com. Follow her on instagram at: @kiminphotos.
Photo credit: Nathan Monk