Pride Games 2009 Round up

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Pride Games 2009 kicked off in the blazing sunshine with a fun day for all in Alexandra Park, billed as the opening festival and centred around the ever popular Alex Park 5k community run and included; community relay fundraiser (teams of 3 people), school sports day games, skills zone, side stalls, refreshments and quite a bit of sunbathing! This year’s chosen beneficiary was ‘Positively Healthy’, a valued activity programme that’s free to HIV+ people who apply (subject to availability).

Following a hot and very active day in the park, participants headed off to Castlefield for the Pride Games opening soiree @ Lava Bar. Here, participants were greeted with a free glass of wine, a very nice food offer and lots of men from the Gay Gordon’s in kilts warming up for the evening’s big event, the Ceilidh, Scottish Country Dancing to many people, which was generously hosted by Manchester Marriot, Victoria and Albert Hotel. A charity fundraising raffle with some smashing prizes raised £200 for the Booth Hall Children’s Hospital and Positively Healthy. The event was well attended by man, women and children, though not all were sporting kilts. A very special occasion indeed!

Highlights of the week included a few new editions to the Pride Games line up included the much requested Women’s Netball, with a special coach on hand from Netball England!

Returning for the second year was Archery & Orienteering in the beautiful surroundings of Sale Water Park. With Pride Games now in June there was much more time to play and, most notably, when a balloon was attached to the Bulls Eye of the target board, miraculously, almost all the arrows hit the target and the balloons were soon popped – The competitive spirit lives on!

Thursday saw a city walk for the over 50s. A nice easy going friendly group of people from ‘Out in The City’ welcomed newcomers for a gentle city walk passing places of interest along the way and finishing at Taurus for tea, coffee and a chat. It was open to all over 50s.

Thursday also saw a special Basketball taster, hosted by the Slam Dunkin Divas, a new women’s basketball team and one which is set to compete in the World Outgames in Copenhagen -very adventurous for such a new team!

As if that wasn’t enough Thursday and Friday included a sailing programme for beginners and experienced sailors and included a level one training course with certification into the bargain. Held at Hollingworth Lake, a fantastic seaside like place near Rochdale and overlooked by the Pennines, a stunning location by any standards. At one point there were three different groups of sailors each on different boats, plus spectators and including Exposure Photography’s Paul Jones who rode around the lake on the safety boat taking pictures. Four of the new sailors were presented with the Royal Yachting Association’s level 1 certificate, which means they can now take a boat out by themselves.

Friday saw a small but perfectly formed climbing competition at the Manchester Climbing Centre, which is a spectacle in it’s own right! All participants were awarded a Lifetime membership of the Manchester Climbing Centre worth £15 and the event was won by Andrew Eustace of Out Door Lads, with a ten year old super climber in second place and both with extremely high scores. These two scored over 100 points more than their nearest rivals. Well done boys!

In a first for Pride Games, the Pride Sports Open Golf Championship was all set to take place but the course had to be closed because of rain, so the only competition on the day was who could snaffle the bacon butties first. The good news is, this event was only postponed and will be restaged during the August Bank Holiday weekend, with the fantastic trophies and prize monies still to be played for. New entries will be welcomed for this event at help@pridegames.org. This event will be run in partnership with the Fabulous Iron’s Golf club.

Manchester FA ran this year’s five a-side football tournament for men and women at Salford Sport Village, a great facility with astaro-turf pitches and no mud!

Run by Open Athletics, this year’s track and field events were held at the stylish Trafford Athletics Stadium. Javelin, hurdles, races and much more were run to a rapturous applause. At the same venue at the same time was the Pride Youth Games track and field events. The significance of this, is that as far as we know, this LGBT Pride Youth Games is the only event of its kind in the world and next year is being opened up to Europeans – something LGBT Youth North West are justifiably proud of!

Ballroom and Latin Dance Workshops were held for beginners and more experienced ballroom dancers and hosted at the John Thaw Theatre of the University of Manchester. Come tea time it, tea and sandwiches arrived all were able to practice their new skills under the skilful eye of Vernon Kemp, one of the county’s leading dance tutors and all brought together nicely in a very swish venue.

Another new feature this year was a free, friendly, fun swim gala, held in a relaxing environment with all the trimmings and lots of floating toys on hand to play and relax with. This formulae did the trick, with quite a few novices surprising spectators with some amazing unexpected times. Mistakes at this event really were learning opportunities with expert coaches on hand to support and guide swimmers. Such was the success this event will be replicated for Pride Games 2010.

The official Pride games party was a very special club night, delivered by the Bollox Club. It has a broad appeal to straight, gay, men women etc all comers were welcomed and with free entry to registered Pride Games participants. If you’ve never been, Bollox is a celebration of queer cultures, where women and men, young and old, hairy and smooth, black and white, Harvey Nicks and Primark – all unite in a quest for a fun night of drinking, dancing and smiling. Musically you’ll be entertained with a diverse mix of wonky pop, indie, 80s and electroclash. Nice.

The last events of the week all took place at the very beautiful Salford Quays. Beginning with a 10k road race and including participative line dancing and concluding with the infamous and very exciting Pride Games Bell Boat Regatta. Rival teams of ten came together and raced to win the Co-operative challenge Cup and there were some special cash prizes too: 1st Prize – £200, 2nd Prize – £160, 3rd Prize – £100, Best Dressed – £100. Last years winners from Out Door Lads had two teams in the final and were up against previous cup winners from Northern Wave Swimming Club, who won every heat and then the final by quite a margin. Interestingly, the oldest person in the ODL boat was 6 years younger than the youngest in the winning team!

After what has been a very action packed week and with over 30 events and just over 1,100 people taking part over seven days, those left with any stamina attended the closing soiree @ Jackson’s Warehouse in Piccadilly basin, were complimentary wine flowed and nibbles were enjoyed, very nice nibbles indeed, miniatures of dishes from Jackson’s delicious menu and served in very relaxing water side surroundings. Truly a fitting end to an amazing week!

“Pride Games 2009 has been very successful and well attended, especially considering it was at a new time of year, in June, 3 months earlier than usual. I think that took some people by surprise and we had a lot of last minute registrations. I have quite a few favourite bits from this year’s events, so here goes; my highlights would have to be my sailing course, the archery with Sally, an unexpectedly great atmosphere at the swim, the Pride Games Party, I just loved the Bell Boat Regatta and the wine a nibbles at Jackson’s. Oh! Not forgetting the Ceilidh and the wheel barrow race that nearly made me split my sides with laughing. It was fantastic!”

Results from this year’s Pride Games are available @ http://www.pridegames.org Pride Games returns 6th to 13th June 2010.

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