PROVINCETOWN — The second annual Pride Weekend “Feet Over Front Street 5K” wound its way down Commercial Street last Sunday, June 4, in its own happy Provincetown way: a handful of elite runners took hold up front, trailed by about 120 others, including one Independent reporter, amid a sea of rainbow garb, a billowing trans flag, and dogs of various breeds.
Participants checked in at the Harbor Hotel before race time, pinning on timekeeping bibs and sipping caffeine from Joe Coffee, one of the Provincetown Business Guild’s sponsors of the race.
As the start time approached, we made our way toward Commercial Street’s fork with Bradford, where the town crier rang his bell, and off we went, a vibrant cavalcade against the 8:30 a.m. grayness and defying the ominous warnings of severe weather that had halted the weekend’s ferry service to and from Boston.
From the sidelines, spectators and passersby lent doses of encouragement to panting competitors.
High on race adrenaline, I felt alive to being a gear in a multi-speed mechanism zooming, loping, and strolling its way along Provincetown’s main artery. I also left all my timekeeping devices behind at the start, which left me blissfully unaware of pacing myself until, about halfway through, I was winded. I eased up but jogged on. I was there for the fun.
So was Keegan Gleason of Millbury, who won the race. He was satisfied with his performance before he knew his official time. “I was just vibing out,” he said right afterward. Gleason’s 16:17 finish broke last year’s inaugural race record — which was also his — by 22 seconds.
The two-time winner is a rising junior at Tufts, where he competes on the cross country and track teams. He likes that the Provincetown 5K brings together Pride and running: “two things I’m passionate about,” he said. He’s also the school’s team Athlete Ally representative, making him a go-to person for queer athletes considering matriculating at Tufts.
Gleason’s high school coach, who is also his father, planted himself at the midpoint of the race, shouting encouragement and tips. “Turnover!” he yelled — a reminder about maintaining cadence and form — when the frontrunner was the first to veer sharply left toward Macmillan Pier.
That wharf addendum to the Commercial Street strip was necessary to meet the 3.1-mile distance, said race organizer and PBG associate director Trevor Pittinger. After a smooth start down Commercial Street, participants were directed left down the wharf, and left again to the pier’s very tip, where, after a loop around a race attendant, we made our way back up to Commercial Street and all the way west, to the Provincetown Inn.
Brad Motta and John O’Grady, second-time pride 5K participants decked out in identical rainbow rompers, had six grandchildren cheering them on from the sidelines.
Another pair in eye-catching ensembles were Kurt Uccello and Matt Cieslowski, clad in sequined slacks and a tutu, respectively. Entering the race required compromises.
“I like dressing up but hate running,” said Uccello, a performance artist.
“And I love running but I hate dressing up,” said Cieslowski.
Alexa Kanbergs, a resident physician at Mass General Brigham originally from Portland, Ore., was the top female finisher. She completed the course in 19:45. If not for the fact that she’d had quite a bit of fun at her first tea dance the night before, “I might’ve done a little bit better today,” she said, after changing out of her race garb and joining the other runners at the Provincetown Brewing Co. afterparty. There, prizes were announced, and race bibs could be exchanged for a 10 a.m. ale.
As participants milled about, Pittinger noted the winners. “Last year, we were sweating in the corner trying to figure out who won the race,” he said. The PBG implemented official chip timing this year.
Having entered without the faintest intent to actually race, my own casual 27:30 finish feels fine. But as the people closest to me know, I am wont to find hints of sporty competition intoxicating. It’s good news, then, that there will be a Commercial Street 5K every month this summer: the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod is hosting one in July, and PBG will hold its second annual Carnival weekend “Feet Over Front Street 5K” in August. I plan to race against myself at them both.