|Frontrunners Rhode Island|
by Keith shields
Avid marathon runner, ironman triathlete, and dedicated member of Frontrunners Rhode Island.
On Saturday, August 11th, the final day of the 10th annual Gay Games in Paris, Brain Mulligan, John Kershaw and I lined up at compete in the marathon (Brian) and half marathon (Keith and John). The event started and ended just steps away of one of Paris’s most idyllic landmarks, the Arc de Triomphe. The course passed mostly through the Bois de Boulogne which treated runners to a mix of large tree canopies covering hard packed dirt paths, asphalt road that hugged beautiful parks and quaint cobblestoned streets closer to the start and finish of the race. The Rhode Island Frontrunner contingent was treated with cheers and fandom from Jeffrey Fuller, Scott Mirani, Tim Engels, Ed Pendola, Emma Kershaw and towards the end of the race, Peter Quesnel and Tom Koch.
My strategy was to try and keep up with future marathon silver medalist, Brian Mulligan as long as I could. However, nearly from the start of the race, I know it was going to be tough task. A week of touring Paris that consisting of 10-12 walking miles and 16-30 flights of stairs a day had taken its toll on my legs. From the first mile, I knew it would not be a day of personal records. That said, I was able to stick with Brian for the better part of the first half of the race and finished in a respectable time.
After finishing, cooling down and getting a few refreshments, I joined the FRRI spectators to cheer on John and Brian. The music was pumping, the announcer was psyching up the crowds, screaming encouragement to each finishing runner while temporarily slowing down marathon runners completing another lap by sharing a quick fist-pumping dance with him/her. The mood just seemed so happy and at that moment, it hit me how happy I was.
We weren’t the token ‘gay runners’ of a race, but a race full of brothers and sisters from all over the world, who happen to love someone of their own gender, who love to run and who just like me, seemed so happy. I found myself laughing, smiling ear to ear and tearing up, all at the same time.
The Arc de Triumphe, commissioned by Napoleon I was built to celebrate the many victories of the French Army. Leaving the race, and seeing the iconic monument, I couldn’t help but think of the many battles and victories in those battles that the GLBT+ community have made to all get us here to the 10thGay Games… where men and women could compete, celebrate, be themselves and be happy doing it.