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Behind the Scenes of World Mental Health Day 5K: Our Race Director’s Story

If you’ve been following Still I Run for a while, you’ve likely gotten to know some familiar faces of the Still I Run community. Megan Jaromin is one of those familiar faces. As a SIR ambassador and the race director for the World Mental Health Day 5K, Megan has been involved in the SIR community since 2018.

Over the past 5 years, Megan has helped SIR founder, Sasha Wolff, grow the SIR World Mental Health Day 5K from 30 to 400+ people, expand the event to go virtual, and has helped to grow the Ambassador program from 20 to nearly 200 people.

Megan’s Mental Health Journey:

Megan’s passion for the SIR community stems from her own experience with postpartum depression (PPD). When her daughter was born in March 2017, she knew before leaving the hospital that something did not feel right but didn’t quite understand what it was yet.

Megan had experienced panic attacks in college but didn’t know at the time what they were.

Within a week of being home from the hospital, Megan was experiencing panic attacks nightly.

Fortunately, Megan knew she needed to contact her doctor immediately to get help. Her doctor prescribed medication and connected her with the Mother & Baby Program for evaluation. The program connected her with a therapist who understood PPD and allowed her to bring her daughter with her to the sessions, which was very helpful for her.

Through this treatment plan, Megan worked hard to address her postpartum depression and eventually returned to her normal life, including going back to work. Megan felt strong enough to work through the rest on her own, but once Megan stopped going to therapy her PPD took a turn for the worse. It was a very dark time in her life.

Finding SIR:

About a year after her daughter was born, Megan found the Still I Run Community. Megan had been a runner prior to her daughter's birth and followed other runners on social media. One day, Still I Run popped up on her feed, and she felt compelled to get involved.

She reached out to SIR and asked if there was any way that she could help and that turned into a meet up with Sasha Wolff, SIR’s founder. At that time, Sasha was in the process of growing SIR. Megan still remembers how she felt during that meeting, so energized by Sasha’s passion and excited for her future with this amazing community.

Building the World Mental Health Day 5K:

Their first project together was the launch of the World Mental Health Day 5K, a group run to raise awareness for mental health and get people moving together. This race is not only special for the mental health awareness it raises, but it’s also a celebration of Still I Run’s birthday, which just so happens to be on World Mental Health Day.

Megan and Sasha planned the inaugural World Mental Health Day (WMHD) race in less than a month, with a few different locations throughout West Michigan, where they both live. The event was promoted organically through Facebook events. Megan still remembers going out to chalk mark the courses that very first year. It was such an exciting time for SIR but also a turning point for Megan in her own recovery.

In year two, the race expanded into a few more locations and offered a promotion, providing free registration to the first 100 people, to make it accessible. As the SIR community continued to grow, the WMHD race got more exposure through community member shares.

Then came COVID-19, and like many race directors, Megan knew they needed to pivot in order to continue this event. As virtual events were blossoming, they too went the virtual route and it was a big success.

Today, the event still operates as a virtual event, however the SIR run chapters provide a local component. There are a handful of chapters across the U.S. that are running in groups in person, which offers the best of both worlds. Megan shared that she loves how the virtual event gives people the accessibility and flexibility to run regardless of where they live and what their schedules allow.

Megan’s daughter has come to some of the races and sees her in action. Megan feels strongly about leading by example to ensure that the next generation understands that vulnerability is bravery. She knows that she wouldn’t be here today if she hadn’t put her feelings of shame aside and sought help. Her daughter has even completed a few children’s races and loves following in mommy’s footsteps.

Making more Voices heard:

Megan’s vision for the WMHD race is to continue growing the event virtually, while solidifying it as a staple event in the West Michigan area. She would love to have more resources to give to local run chapters to help it spread its wings in other areas.

Megan encourages others, “Even if you’re running this WMHD race virtually, you really are not running alone, there is a whole community running it alongside you. The impact you make even if you are by yourself is still huge. Everyone's voice needs to be heard.”

What’s next for SIR:

As WMHD festivities wind down, we encourage others to check the SIR Ambassador Program which is opening for applicants on October 11th.

SIR Ambassadors are special people who really want to connect and share and take the community one step further. The Ambassador program has grown from 20 to nearly 200 people and it’s truly an organic program that can’t be forced, nor duplicated.

If you are interested in getting involved, please reach out! We’d love to have you as a part of the community and the opportunities to give back are endless.


By Richelle Horn

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