Pride Run & Walk: Raising awareness one step at a time

Pride_Run_2014

The annually held Pride Run & Walk in Vancouver will be celebrating its 10th-year anniversary this summer.

The event, organized by the Vancouver-based group Frontrunners, is meant to raise awareness about the LGTBQ community as well as serve as kick-off to pride week.

This running event has grown substantially over the years, from initially just a couple dozen friends getting together to run, to nearly 400 participants last summer.

This year the race hopes to reach the 500 participants mark and reach the $12,000 dollar goal; funds that will be donated and split evenly between Out in Schools and VPS Qmunity Pride Legacy Fund.

Gregg Ambrosi, Co-Race Director said the event hopes to bring everyone together to have fun and be themselves. He added: “People who maybe haven’t felt comfortable with sports in their life, can come out and participate in something that’s fun, low-key, and that can be silly or serious, and for anyone to come out and say ‘wow, here are people from all kinds of backgrounds just doing something that is athletic’.”

This year for the first time in their 10-year history, the Pride Run & Walk has added an option to allow runners to register under a third gender category called “gender variant.” This category is intended to represent those whose gender expression does not conform to dominant gender forms.

Despite the run’s goal to raise awareness about the LGTBQ community, it was not until a participant in last year’s race questioned the lack of options available that the organizers became aware of the problem.

Trying to think outside of the traditional binary female and male options, the organizers hope that this third option — although far from being a perfect solution — is a step towards the right direction.

“Last year was a little bit late to try to change things, but we decided that this year was going to be the year we would tackle that,” added Ambrosi.

“It’s an amazingly interesting and complex topic in terms of how to provide that [option], what it should be called, should there be more than one additional category… there’s lots of interesting discussions in terms of what the category or categories would be called.”

The group also faced a challenge when they realized that one of the registration forms participants need to fill from one of their sponsors, the Running Room, could not accommodate a third gender option in their system and was only able to function with the traditional binary options.

For now, Frontrunners has been able to allow participants to skip that option, but they hope to keep working together with the Running Room in the future to find a solution.

“The Running Room was actually quite intrigued and interested in the idea and they started looking into their software and the software itself would have to be recoded to do that, so that’s something we’ll explore for next year.”

Ambrosi added that unfortunately he was not surprised that the software itself was never coded to accommodate any other options, and that as an experienced runner himself, he has never been part of a race where there are other options offered.

Certain gender stereotypes are so embedded in society that it is sometimes difficult to become aware of them; however Ambrosi hopes that what they are doing will inspire others to follow their steps and work towards more inclusive registration systems.

“We would be thrilled if we did serve as an example, we don’t know that a single third [category] is the right way to go, or the best, but it’s a step in the right direction,” concluded Ambrosi.

The race will take place on July 26. Visit their website for more information.