January 15, 2016 at 10:33 am EST | by Kevin Majoros
Mentoring in the Front Runners
Lennie Carter, Socrates Tigalao, D.C. Front Runners, gay news, Washington Blade

Lennie Carter, left, and Sacrates Tiglao in action. (Photos courtesy the subjects)

This week in the ongoing Blade series on the rookies and veterans who make up the LGBT sports teams in the area, we hit the pavement with two gay athletes from the D.C. Front Runners.

The Front Runners hosted the third annual Pride Run 5K this year drawing more than 1,200 runners as part of the Capital Pride events. They continue to offer their walk, run and racing series

Two years ago, a 5K run was too long for Socrates Tiglao to run. In March, he will compete in the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, which will be his third marathon since he picked up running with the Front Runners in early 2014.

A D.C. native, Tiglao was on the crew team and the swim team while in high school. While he was earning his degree at Radford University, he lost interest and left sports behind.

A weight gain prompted him to begin a fitness craze at the gym at the beginning of 2014 and after trying all the machines, he found himself enjoying his runs on the treadmill.

He joined the Front Runners and had to overcome a few things before he hit his stride.

“It was very scary for me at first,” he says. “I was shy, slow and had no experience running outside. It took me a few months to really break into the club.”

In June of 2014, he ran his first race at the Pride Run 5K. By October of that year, he ran the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half-Marathon. He was officially hooked.

“The veterans on the team were very helpful with advice on pace, diet and cross training,” Tiglao says. “They really made me feel included.”

Tiglao, who is 32 and an interior designer, is reaping all the benefits from a healthy lifestyle and being part of a club. He has competed in multiple races at varying distance, lost 70 pounds and was elected to the Front Runners board in September where he is also a race director. Last year he started cross-training with the D.C. Strokes Rowing Club and he will begin competing with its club program in the spring.

“I am gradually improving every month and gradually running more miles,” he says. “One of my life goals is to make the time cut-off for the Boston Marathon within the next two to three years.”

One year after he joined the Front Runners, Lennie Carter ran his first marathon at the 1998 Gay Games in Amsterdam. He promptly threw his running shoes in the trash, cursed his partner Charlie for encouraging him to join the running club and vowed never to run again.

Now 62, married to Charlie since 2013 and a recently retired associate vice president of financial operations at Georgetown University, he has run 35 marathons including Boston 12 times. Luckily, that day in Amsterdam he had a change of heart.

“I started thinking about my next race that same day,” Carter says. “I ran back to that trash can and retrieved my running shoes which thankfully they hadn’t taken yet.”

Growing up in Chillicothe, Ohio, Carter had aspirations to run track and field, but spent most of his free time working on his parents’ dairy farm. After graduating from Ohio State, he moved to Baltimore and then D.C. Sports were never a part of his life, so after he dropped off Charlie at Front Runners runs, he would head to the gym.

That all changed in 1997 and he fully integrated into the Front Runners serving on the board and as race director. He was also one of the coordinators of the first Pride Run 5K in 2013.

Along with His husband, Carter was one of the members who helped create the Race Circuit series for the club. He proudly states that last year’s top three awards went to women.

“It became apparent several years back that we were an aging group of men who lacked younger runners and women.” Carter says. “After some outreach we have had an influx of young runners who also pull in their friends. We are still hoping for more female runners.”

He says the rookies are coming in with more experience than before and the mentoring works both ways. With all of the programs that are offered by the Front Runners there is a great amount of support for everyone.

As for Carter’s future, he will continue to run multiple distances of races including two marathons a year. He also says he has one more Boston Marathon in him and he has been working with a trainer on speed training. He has brought his 5K pace back down to 6:59 per mile.

“Sometimes at races, you do well. Other times it is just about the competition,” he says. “I just love passing 16-year-olds.”

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