Tell us a little bit about yourself, how long have you been in Brighton and what do you like about living here?

Hi, I’m Gary, I’ve lived in Brighton since 2019 having wanted to move here since I was 19 when I would visit with friends for nights out in revenge. It took 22 years but I eventually managed to transfer work here from London in early 2019. I love living here as there is always something to do or take part it and being different is embraced. Being gay there are loads of support and activity groups with like-minded people. I love music and there are always some live music events on. I’ve really got into local bands and music artists since moving here and love going to see them live. I haven’t been back to revenge since moving here but have regularly been found busting some moves in Legends.

How long have you been running and what is it about running that you enjoy?

I first started running 10 years ago in 2012 when I was living in Portsmouth but then stopped when I moved to London in 2015. I started running again in 2019 when I moved to Brighton and joined Front runners after the lockdown last year. Running really helps me keep on top of my mental health and anxiety. I love just ‘zoning out’ with my headphones on and running along the coast or up to Devils dyke. 

Gary running at devils dyke

What made you decide to join front runners and how did you hear about the club?

I really struggled with my anxiety in lockdown and despite living in Brighton for over a year didn’t push myself to join any social groups in the area. It took another frontrunner pestering me to join for a year before I apprehensively went. My worries soon dissipated as the group is so welcoming and friendly. Going through medical retirement with the police and leaving the work and social life policing brings, front runners has really helped me transition into the real world.

Have you run any races before? Have you signed up for any upcoming events and what are your goals?

In 2013 I ran 3 half marathons but then moved to London and put on weight. My next race was after joining front runners and losing that 3 stone in September 2021 when I completed the Brighton marathon. I honestly believe had I not joined front runners this wouldn’t have happened. I completed my second marathon in December in Portsmouth and raised nearly £2000 for the Terrence Higgins trust. This week I finished the Brighton marathon again and knocked 15 minutes off my finish time. One more marathon booked in is Brighton trail in June… Not sure how I feel about that now with my legs in full recovery mode!. With 4 marathons in my first year of proper running, I think I will need a break but will still be booking in some half marathons for the year. I have Plumpton trail half marathon in November with a group of the front runners which will give my legs a slight rest but keep me motivated.

How did the COVID-19 lockdowns affect you and your motivation to run?

Working from home in lockdown was a real struggle. I actually knew I had to focus on my fitness more so to keep my mental health in check, rather than do less I focused on physical and mental health. I increased my running, got a personal trainer who trained outdoors with boxing and used fitness to distract me from anxiety. I also took at as an opportunity to explore the south downs and went on regular hikes with just my music for company.

Why do you enjoy being a front runner?

I really enjoy being a front runner as it is so inclusive and has helped me transition from 17 years in a job that was my work and social life. Front runner sessions are fun and social as well as focused and structured. I love how supportive we are and even if we are not in a race, runners regularly turn up to cheer and support. I love how there is a great social side to it with lots of social events always on offer which vary from other sporting activities to pub nights. I have made some great friends from the group and it has brought a sense of community which was much needed.