Run for Your Life
Run Like a Mother founder Megan Searfoss stress that exercise is not just about staying physical fit.
Megan Searfoss is a six-time Ironman competitor, qualifying for a spot in the world championships in Kona, Hawaii, in 2010. In 2008 Searfoss hatched the idea of getting a group of women together for a Mother’s Day run and finds herself five years later organizing Run Like a Mother in 10 cities across the country, the largest of which is in her hometown of Ridgefield, where she caps attendance at 1,500. For Searfoss this is more than a 3.1-mile run. “I want women to make this part of their life,” says the mother of three girls. “Doing this run builds so much confidence that carries into the rest of their lives. It fuels a woman’s journey toward health and wellness.”
Why did you start RLAM?
Running is the best “habit” a woman can have; it is wonderful from a fitness perspective, the time it takes is most efficient, the ability to be outside, with friends or alone makes for a better person at the end of the day. I want women to realize that you don’t have to look like a runner to be one. I wanted them to see the possibilities that open up when you put on a race bib and step out of your comfort zone even for an hour.
What were your expectations?
To put on a race for my friends and their friends. With a few emails, I closed the race at 500 racers that first year.
Why no men?
Because it is Mother’s Day, I wanted to have an event that honored women. You don’t have to be a mother, but you do have to be a woman. I wanted to create an environment that women felt safe to “try racing” and have a non-competitive atmosphere. Most of Run Like a Mother athletes have never run in a race and I felt it was a perfect day to encourage an “all about me” event.
Did you plan from the beginning for it to become a national event, held in many cities across the country?
I didn’t plan from the get go to have the race national but by year two when I started the training program and saw the response I realized that if there was a way, I would bring it national. It is a labor of love still, 100 percent sweat equity but it pays off when I see Run Like a Mother hats in airports or when a woman tells me about her accomplishments and new love for the sport.
Can you tell me a success story—someone who has greatly improved her life as a result of RLAM?
Most women speak of the friendships they have made, how it has made them more productive, better moms, lose weight, but mostly achieved something they thought they would never do. I ran into a woman at the supermarket who came up to me to tell me she was registered and not only was she participating in the training program but her Mom was too. And Christina Calabro, a local mom, was so inspired after doing our 5k that she made the commitment to qualify for the New York City Marathon by participating in nine New York Road Runner races.
How old is the oldest athlete to date?
Last year an 82-year-old woman ran the race!
In what city is the biggest race?
Ridgefield. The race was in two other cities last year, we started awareness a bit late but both were in the 500 range. This year we hope to have 11 cities and close to 1,000 women in each.
Will the Ridgefield race always be special as the founding race?
I have often been asked if I would go to another race and I just can’t. Ridgefield is my home, the women that run the race and participate in the training program and those that volunteer are my friends and family. Ridgefield will always be the “testing ground” for all things Run Like a Mother. This year we added a weekday training program, and are doing the kids race differently.
Do you plan to get any celebrities involved?
Would love to have Michelle Obama here in Ridgefield as part of her Let’s Move foundations to get kids more active. My plea to her is, “It starts with you”, if we can encourage mothers to run, the kids will follow. Help me get Michelle here!