“There’s a community out there” - striding along Birmingham’s bright bricks

In the third of our series, woo and New Balance meet Sydney, who’s part of LGBTQIA+ running club Birmingham Swifts

In the third of our series, woo and New Balance meet Sydney, who’s part of LGBTQIA+ running club Birmingham Swifts

By Team Woo30 Mar 2023
4 mins read time
4 mins read time

Jogging past the Bullring, striding along the canals, landing at ; the third of woo and New Balance’s series of videos casting a light on the many diverse running clubs across the UK takes us to Birmingham.

This is where we see singer-songwriter Madi Saskia get into running for the first time ever with Sydney, a member of Birmingham Swifts, a running club set up to provide LGBTQIA+ Brummies a sense of community that goes way beyond the bars and clubs of the gay village.

We caught up with Sydney to find out a bit more about the sense of community that the Swifts has given him, as he went from spending days in a row alone to having a group of comrades around him who he ventures through England’s second city with.

It’s a far cry from the competition of school: “I did a few runs during high school sports days but I wasn’t as good as some of the more sporty kids so I stopped doing it and it took me about 5-6 years to get back into it.”

“I wanted to try something new, to turn my life around and be a part of a community - I’ve never been part of any LGBTQIA+ sports clubs before, so I was really excited at the thought of meeting other people like me with shared interests.”

Not only has it brought him closer to the Swifts but running in the club has given him a new perspective on the rest of life: “I think watching the world around me unfold as I’m doing my run - whether that’s seeing people going about their daily lives, bikers and cars going past and even waving to other runners - is the most exciting thing about running here. It’s nice to see things happening, it makes me feel like the world around me is alive.”

It’s this sense of liveliness, of vibrancy, of life hurtling forwards, that propels Sydney to run: “The world is so much more lively when you’re outdoors, you see so many things you otherwise wouldn’t see if you spent most of your time indoors.”

The countryside doesn’t hold a monopoly on the great outdoors, either, and there’s plenty of places to race around in Birmingham, Sydney says: “There’s loads of urban routes I run either on my own or with the Birmingham Swifts - I generally opt to run earlier or in the evening to avoid busy times - I work from home so it’s not too inconvenient to head out for a quick 30 minutes during lunch and even after work I have a lot of built up energy and time to head out.” The running club is more than just company, it’s also a sense of support: “They’re there to encourage you and you feel a sense of comradery with everyone by the end of it, like you’ve all had to go through the same challenge together.

The physical impacts are huge for Sydney, too: “I’ve felt so much stronger, active and healthier since starting and I feel happier and more fulfilled. I’ve also taken on other activities like climbing, figure skating and more. I’ve completed my first half marathon and signed up for a few more this year too!”

But ultimately, it’s the community that keeps Syndey running back into the charge of the Swifts: “I find that I’ve grown my social network a lot since starting which has made me feel a lot less lonely, especially being part of an LGBTQIA+ running group. I’ve met so many people I otherwise wouldn’t have and I’m really grateful to have been able to be welcomed into the running community.”

This article has been brought to you in partnership with New Balance, which is working to get people on the move with its 2023 TCS London Marathon range.