- Associated Press - Monday, July 24, 2017

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A group of brightly dressed runners jogged down the Burlington bike path on Tuesday night, enjoying the mid-July warmth and slight breeze off Lake Champlain.

This is the Pride Center of Vermont’s running group, a social fitness setting for LGBTQ Vermonters and allies to run the streets of Burlington and improve their health.

Travis Miller, the center’s health and wellness coordinator, started the running group in May as a healthy initiative for the Pride Center. They meet every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m., starting their runs at the Pride Center on Champlain street before heading down to the waterfront.

Burlington is a health- and wellness-oriented city, so starting something like this wasn’t too difficult,” Miller said. “Everyone goes at their own pace.”

There are many groups coordinated by the Pride Center, from hiking outings to sober support meetings. The idea is to create a community that is supportive and promotes a healthy lifestyle on multiple fronts.

“We’re trying to expand our reaches of health and wellness,” Miller said. “Rather than being independent goals, things like quitting smoking and running can be linked to each other.”

Previously, the center’s health initiatives were primarily focused on sexual health, testing and education. Miller is enthusiastic about the new holistic approach.

The running group has already seen a lot of interest from individuals both inside and outside the Pride community who were seeking a fitness outlet. More than 15 people participated in the first run in late May.

“I’d heard people asking for a running group, people asking for queer yoga,” Miller said. “Running is a great community builder, we’ve had a bunch of new people show up that we’ve never seen before.”

Burlington resident Paul Kiripolsky hadn’t been involved with the Pride Center prior to the running group.

“I’ve always been active, and being active is so important to health and happiness,” he said. “Running with friends is always a good time.”

The group is open to anyone in the community hoping to run in a judgment-free environment.

“It’s for folks that are looking for that safe space where they can feel comfortable no matter their experience or their body or whatever barrier they might be facing,” Miller said.

More wellness projects are in the works at the Pride Center, including the return of the Stride for Pride 5K run/walk, which will likely take place the day before the pride parade in mid-September.

For Miller, it’s all about making Burlington a healthier and more inclusive place.

“We’re going beyond testing and meeting health disparities in our community.”

The next Pride Run will be at 10 a.m. on Sunday.


Online: https://bfpne.ws/2uR99BX


Information from: The Burlington Free Press, https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com

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