Profession: U.S. Government
Member Since: 2008
Favorite Route: Reverse Iwo Jima
Ad Hoc Drag Queen Name: Miss Hissy Fit
Meet Richard Eckhart
Richard Eckhart sought out the DC Front Runners booth at the Capital Pride Festival back in 2008, when he recently moved to town from New Mexico. Since then, he has never looked back! Richard served as the coordinator of the DC Front Runners from 2011 to 2013 and has played an integral role in the club’s Pride celebrations – which is what drew him to the DC Front Runners in the first place.
Richard and fellow club member Nina are our newest DC Front Runners parents with young Nicolas, who is now about seven months old. Richard said he’s excited for Nicolas to grow up among the broader Front Runner family.
To Richard, the DC Front Runners give him the opportunity to meet people of all walks of life and interests. Funny enough, I remember my first runs with the group, and Richard was always so nice and welcoming to Mick and me. As he puts it, the DC Front Runners have a place for everyone.
Question and Answer with Rich
Why did you join the DC Front Runners? I had just moved to DC from New Mexico, and there was a very small gay community there so I was very eager to join a gay group. At Capital Pride 2008, I couldn’t wait to find out more about the DC Front Runners so I arrived at the Capital Pride Festival at 1 p.m. and ran to the DC Front Runners Booth. I was met by Jeff Dutton who told me about the Welcome Run in one week. But I couldn’t wait, so I went to the very next run, which was a Tuesday Night run, and they have never been able to get rid of me!
What were your first impressions of the group? The DC Front Runners had me from the start. Everyone was very friendly, and I made some amazing friends the first night (Jeff Gonzalez, Richard Isaacs, and Orlando Adan). It’s not easy to find a safe place where you are celebrated for your diversity by remarkable individuals, especially one that is healthy and doesn’t involve drinking at some judgie bar. The best part was that no one cared about my skill level. The DC Front Runners has a place for those who have never run to the most elite.
What are you most proud of from your time as Coordinator? We had some truly remarkable members who made our organization thrive while I was coordinator, including:
• Jerry Langan developed the first DC Front Runners Pride Run 5K.
• Eddie Valentine and Graeme Joeck coached created the Track Program.
• Seth Kalish continued to spearhead the Dance Troupe and unbeatable graphic development.
• Blake Rushin led running programs for those new to running and helped with membership.
• Brian Beary unwaveringly volunteered for everything and was always present.
• Marcel Acosta took our website into the future.
Those are just a few and there are so many others!
What advice or recommendations would you give to other people joining Front Runners? Break out of your comfort zone. The DC Front Runners can offer so much more than just running. Don’t be afraid to open up and talk to someone not like you. The friendships… no, the family that has accepted me with the DC Front Runners is something I truly cherish. Every run I make and develop new friendships some of the best ones are from people I never expected.
Do you have a favorite Front Runners memory? I have so many memories, but a few years ago, during a beautiful summer evening, we set off for our run, halfway through clouds came out of nowhere and unleashed gushing sheets of rain. Streets flooded and as we finished about 30 of us huddled in the bus stop. My phone was destroyed but it was so much fun. We’ve had a few like that and I love every one of them!
You have been involved in the club’s Pride festivities for many years. Why is Pride special? What do you enjoy most? Pride is where I first met the DC Front Runners, so I owe a lot to Capital Pride. I guess to me, it is an opportunity to introduce someone to the DC Front Runners and maybe a place where they will find a home away from home like I did.
What do you feel about the club’s generational mix? It is amazing, our diversity is our strength! If we all looked the same, dressed the same, or had the same life experiences it would be pretty boring. Plus, I remember when I was one of the young ones!
You’re a dad now! What’s it like? It’s scary especially as a gay man. But when Nina and I decided to do this I took so much comfort in knowing Nicolas would be surrounded by the best DC has to offer with the DC Front Runners. Families come in all different shapes and sizes, I’m honored mine will truly be a DC Front Runner Family.
What are your non-running hobbies? If you have ever been to my place you know I love comic book superheroes! Some would call it an obsession. Also, I’ll add hanging with friends and volleyball.
What is your motto in life? Service before self, Mission before self, Team before self, Always Protect the Important!
Interview by Justin Fritscher. Web design by Marcel Acosta. October 2017.