Hello again Front Runners! This week we’d like to introduce you to a homecoming story of sort. Richard Ervais is long time Front Runner joining us from his previous groups in San Francisco and New York. Richard is very involved in international Front Runners and up until recently, has served dutifully as the International Front Runner’s communication’s director. As always, come meet Richard during one of our social events or during one of our runs!
So Richard, when did you start running?
I started running in 2001. Newly single after a 10-year relationship with lots of time on my hands, I was a bicyclist and a walker but did not enjoy running and only would run because I was late for something (which was quite often). I had done a couple of AIDS Rides bicycling from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and one day on the bus to work I saw an advertisement for the AIDS Marathon Training Program. I figured what the hell and went to the meeting. A short plump older woman was in charge and said to the group – “I’ve run 8 marathons, and if I can do it, so can you.” I was convinced, ha ha. Her name is Linda Francisco and we’ve stayed friends to this day (she is one of my Facebook friends). So I joined 1,600 other new runners in the Bay Area training for a marathon 6 months later in Honolulu and found myself having a great time. I made some really good friends and one in particular changed my life – Mike deLeon. He dragged me into San Francisco FrontRunners, got me waking up early to meet him at the gym at 6 a.m. (I was previously NOT a morning person), talked me into buying a motorcycle and after we ran Honolulu, what I thought was going to be my only marathon,told me that we were running another marathon 3 months later in Washington, DC. So, while my ex quickly gained 60 pounds and became an alcoholic, I became obsessed with running and working out. Probably a better life choice.
What is your proudest running accomplishment?
Tough to say. I spent 3 years trying to qualify for Boston, but by the time I did I had already run 19 marathons, so that was a little anticlimactic. I’ve now run 7 Bostons. Running Antarctica and the Polar Circle were very cool (pun intended!). Finishing the 7 continents and running 172 marathons so far has been great. Probably the proudest accomplishment is that I have been able to combine my running and biking with fundraising and have raised over $40,000 for charity. I’ve also had a number of friends start running and perhaps I was an influence for them.
What does being a Front Runner mean to you?
When I joined San Francisco FrontRunners in 2001, I was at a low point in my life. Depressed by the end of my relationship and not sure what my future held. Suddenly I am friends with a bunch of crazy people who run 200-mile relays and travel around the world for races. Crazy but really nice! In 2003 I became an international marathoner and it was a thrill to show up in cities like Paris, London, Berlin, etc. and join a Front Runners run. Instant running buddies, instant friends, instant social activities. And they would visit me also. Such fun! I had not lived in Philly since the 1980’s, but when I visited my parents I would join the Philly Front Runners starting in 2002. Philadelphia was my third official marathon in 2002 and my PR to that point. And when I moved to New York in 2003, my competitive juices were amped up considerably by the Front Runners New York (FRNY) and their uber-competitive program (Tuesday night training, Wednesday night fun run informally called Wednesday Night at the Races, Thursday night training, Saturday fun run, Sunday long run). I was running about 8 marathons a year plus lots of other races when I met Zander Ross at FRNY in 2006 and we quickly became inseparable travel and running friends. Zander is now my husband. He decided that we would run a marathon a month (which sometimes became more than one a month) and we have now run over 150 marathons together. I love going to the International Front Runners (IFR) annual meetings and at the Cleveland Gay Games meeting, I was asked to become the IFR Western Region Representative. When I moved back to the East Coast, I became Communications officer but am now scaling back my IFR duties to more of a “help out where I can” status. Time to turn the committee over to a younger generation I think. However, I did suggest that Zander become one of the IFR reps to the Gay Games and he loves the position, so traveling with him to the FGG annual meetings will remain a part of my life. I am so happy to be a part of three Front Runners chapters (San Francisco, New York and Philly) and love that Philadelphia Front Runners has had an influx of wonderfully energetic runners in recent years. Thanks!
What do you do when you’re not running?
I am often asked why an individual Front Runner chapter should belong to International Front Runners. I think in the past, the clubs may have been a little forgotten by an organization that was more focused on Gay Games (and, at the time, Outgames) and perhaps felt like lonely outposts. But we’ve seen a recent shift in how IFR and its member clubs interact. Part of this is due to the incredible interconnectivity in our world today due to the internet and cheap travel. And part of this is due to the young people who are now running the clubs and are becoming part of the IFR administration. I think that the recent Gay Games in Paris demonstrated how cool it is for all of us LGBTQI+ (did I get all the letters?) runners to be connected and friends. I really do believe that runners may be able to help (in a small way and in the long run [another pun]) bring peace to the world because runners all over the world seem to get along and understand each other. IFR and each individual Front Runners chapter can and should be a part of this movement.
My favorite marathons are New York (this year is my 13th), Honolulu (15th this year), Boston, Paris, Berlin. Running Antarctica twice and hanging out with penguins (on my lap) was amazing! Running the Polar Circle as the sun rose over a vast frozen landscape and incredible aurora borealis at night was unforgettable. In 2019, I am hoping to run the Mt. Everest Marathon at Base Camp.