At CARA, it is our members and their diverse backgrounds and experiences who help shape the “Power of the Group”. We run together, no matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, or background.
In honor of Pride Month, we will be featuring inspiring stories from LGBTQ+ members of the CARA community. Get to know CARA members Brian Kim and Clifford Massie!
Tell us about your running journey! How did you start running?
Brian: I started running in 2013 shortly after moving to Chicago. I lived near the Lakefront Trail and that sort of became my "backyard." I started to train for the Shamrock Shuffle 8K, followed by a 10K, then a half marathon, and by then was fully addicted to running.
Clifford: My running journey started in earnest in my early 30s. When I was 35, I decided to train for my first marathon, which was Gay Games V in Amsterdam in 1998. Not only was it my first marathon, but my first trip abroad! I've also run in GG VII Chicago 2006, GG IX Cleveland/Akron 2014, and Brian and I both competed in GG X Paris 2018. Hopefully, we'll both be back for GG XI in Hong Kong 2022.
What is your personal connection to CARA?
Brian: I joined CARA in 2014 when I was training for my first ever marathon, which was Chicago. Since that first marathon, I've trained with CARA every summer and look forward to being able to train for another marathon again.
Clifford: My personal connection to CARA is Brian! He had already run with CARA when we met, so I decided to join CARA too in 2015.
What role does running play in your life?
Running plays a big role in both our lives. It's how we stay fit and sane and actually how we met! We met at the Soldier Field 10 Mile race in 2014. We were introduced by a mutual friend, Megan Schliep, a CARA alum. All three of us ran the race that year. Brian and I started dating, and when we decided to get married, we knew that running had to be involved. So...we decided to get married at the same race where we met. At the 2018 Soldier Field 10 Mile race, at nearly the exact same spot where we met, our friend Megan officiated the ceremony.
You are on a mission to run a half marathon in every state. What sparked this idea and what has the experience been like? How many states have you completed?
It started in 2015 when we had signed up for a series of spring half marathon races, which included the Derby Half Marathon in Louisville, KY, and the Door County Half Marathon in Wisconsin. Early on in our relationship, we realized that we loved to travel, so we ended up trying to tack on a half marathon wherever we visited. So, later in 2015 that included races in Washington, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Missouri. Before you know it, we were planning trips to different states and running half marathons all over. The experience has been great; for the most part, we choose races in larger cities, but we have also enjoyed smaller and scenic races such as the Key West H.M. in Florida or the Red Rock Canyon H.M. in Nevada. We have completed 26 states together with the last one in 2019 in North Carolina. Despite the hiatus in 2020, we will pick things up again next year!
What does pride mean to you?
Pride Month reminds us of all the progress made by our LGBTQ+ community, but it also serves as a reminder of work that still needs to be done to overcome homophobia and racial discrimination, exacerbated amidst Covid-19 and the numerous events of racial violence and hate crimes against our black community. Sometimes, we forget that the Stonewall Inn riots in 1969 were actually started by a group of black and brown trans women! We wouldn't be able to celebrate Pride today if not for their bravery and sacrifices. And for that, Pride is a reminder that we are able to be who we are, but that we also need to continue to fight for all those who are disadvantaged in our communities.