Stigma Breakers

View of Whitetail Woods Regional Park
A gorgeous view of Whitetail Woods Regional Park, 2016

“To educate, encourage and inspire others about mental health issues and treatments in an effort to end stigma and foster hope.” -Defeat the Stigma Project, goal

Coinciding with National Mental Health Awareness Month, Minnesota’s Mountain Goat Running hosted their 2nd annual Stigma Breakers trail run through the beautiful Whitetail Woods Regional Park in Farmington. The race proceeds went to the local Defeat the Stigma Project, an inspiring organization with the vision:

  • To educate people that depression and mental illnesses are treatable.
  • To encourage people to live a healthier life through education and treatment.
  • To inspire others to talk about mental health issues and create support.

Just like cancer, a broken bone, or any other illness, mental illness (e.g. depression) is a condition that warrants a far more sympathetic response than “hey, just snap out of it” or “hey, your life is so good. why are you so sad?” There are treatment options. Get help, or encourage those close to you with depression to seek help, and offer your support.

May in Minnesota can mean any mix of rain, cold, heat or snow, I’ll consider it fortunate that although we had a chilly start (read: all racers were shivering at the start), the day turned out gorgeous with plenty of sun and blossoming trees.

Jen, our friend Cory, and I all opted for the 5K distance. I’m still not quite sure if a slower-paced 10K would’ve better suited my still-in-50-miler-recovery body, but regardless, the 5K was a much-appreciated short distance. A modest group of 20 or so, we all took off from the start 15 minutes after the 10K group, onto the wide and scenic trails. The course was a pleasurable mix of dirt, grass, a large hill or two, tree-lined trails, and a prairie. To top it off, the volunteers were wonderful! No matter the distance, a cowbell or “you look great!” cheer is encouraging.

At times I could feel what I’ve been feeling over the past two weeks of training since Zumbro–heavy lungs and heavy legs. I still managed an 8:01 average pace and came away with a 1st place finish in the Open (females 39 & under) category and a 2nd place finish in the Overall female category. Jen took 2nd in the Open category (3rd female overall), while Cory took 2nd in the women’s Masters category. Car full of place finishers!

Following the races, Mill City Running provided some fresh pancakes (complete with locally made Buddy’s Small Batch Nut Butter). During the raffle, I received an “ohhhhh…” from the entire crowd after my random ticket number “666” was announced (the number can’t be all that bad if it won me a Brooks singlet, right?).

Thank you to Mountain Goat Running, Defeat the Stigma Project, and all the volunteers for a healing Sunday.

Finish line photo credit: Kelcey and Arielle 

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