There was an ad in the newspaper that caught Bud Budlong’s eye in 1975.

Lavender U was a San Francisco-based periodical dedicated to fostering social and educational opportunities of special interest to gays. Within its pages were ads for what were known as “free universities”—free or small fee-based classes offered for hobbies and skills like art, literature, and yoga.

Budlong saw an ad for a “learn to jog” class hosted by two men, Gardner Pond and Jack Baker. For the last two years, Pond and Baker had led the two-month program, which was actually almost a furniture refinishing class; at the last minute, the two friends decided to host a jogging class instead.

The jogging class met on Sundays in Golden Gate Park, and between five and 18 runners would show up to a single session. They weren’t an official running group; the class technically only lasted two months—starting with a half-mile run, and increasing the distance by a half-mile until the group reached five miles—and then would began again. But even after their sessions ended, people continued to show up for the three- to five-mile runs before socializing over coffee and occasionally pastries afterwards.

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