by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
Thirty-seven athletes from the Seattle Frontrunners, Seattle's running and walking club for Gay men, Lesbians and friends, left for Copenhagen, Denmark this week to compete in the 2009 World Outgames.
Seattle Frontrunners track coach Len Tritsch says the team is ready to represent Seattle while in Europe.
"We compete as a team, as the Seattle Frontrunners," said Tritsch, who has coached the team since 1993. "We've really built up a team attitude because we do a lot of relays."
This year's World Outgames will be held from July 25-August 9 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Outgames is an international event for the body, mind, and the spirit that celebrates the talents and contributions of GLBT men and women from every corner of the globe.
Getting 37 athletes from Washington State to Denmark wasn't easy, says Tritsch. He said room and airfare was around $2,000 for each team member. The Frontrunners had to do a lot of fundraising to make the trip possible.
"This is my fifth trip [to Copenhagen], but for over half the team this will be there first time there," Tritsch told SGN. "They're excited and you just have to feel good about it."
He said the athletes have been practicing as a group every Sunday since January of this year as well as training on their own whenever they could fit it in. He said they are a highly competitive group and train very hard. With over 300 members, Seattle Frontrunners is one of the largest running and walking clubs in the Pacific Northwest.
The track coach maintains the Seattle Frontrunners have a long, proud history and represent a broad spectrum of the LGBT community.
"In the past we have faired very, very well," he said. "We had 60 competitors in 2002 at Sydney, Australia. We came home with over 130 medals."
Tritsch is no stranger to the Outgames or the Gay Games. He took the first team of athletes from the Seattle Frontrunners to the 1994 Gay Games in New York. Since then, he's seen his runners compete in Amsterdam, Sydney, and Montreal.
The youngest competitor with the Frontrunners is 28 years old, while Tritsch is the oldest at 84.
"I'm a real health nut, and I just love running and I like the competition of track," he said. "In the past, we dominate the 60- to 65-years-old age range on up."
The team arrived in Denmark July 25 and will stay until August 3. The track competition will take place over the course of three days, July 28-30.
"[Outgames officials] have done a super job of planning," said Tritsch. "They've invited five cities from around the world to have a 'city square.' So throughout Copenhagen, you will be able to walk from one city to another, and that will be especially important on opening night."
He said the city squares are important because of what they represent.
"Tel Aviv is coming," he adds. "The attitude towards the Gay community as a whole in that part of the world is pretty restrictive. It is symbolic and impressive to have them represented at the Outgames."
While participating in this year's World Outgames, the coach and team will also be a part of a documentary called The Boys of Summer, Tritsch said.
"They chose six different people from around the world to be in the documentary. I was lucky enough to be one of them," Tritsch told SGN. "But I would not do it unless the whole team was involved. The filmmakers agreed, and so the whole team will be featured in the documentary."
If you are interested in how well the Seattle Frontrunners are doing at the Outgames, Tritsch said the results will be posted on their website (www.seattlefrontrunners.org) daily once the competition starts.
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