Saturday, Sept. 10 marks the fourth annual Big Bear Stampede, a race organized to raise awareness of depression, lower Montana’s suicide rate, and celebrate the memory of Geoff Faerber, a Gardiner resident and entrepreneur who struggled with depression and took his own life in 2011.
The race also celebrates the lives of others who struggle with or have lost a battle with depression, anxiety, bi-polar and other critical mental illnesses.
Montana has the third-highest suicide rate in the nation, a sobering statistic the community of Gardiner has worked to change with a number of initiatives including programs on suicide prevention for teachers and lay people, bringing counselors to the community, and hosting a day of outdoor recreation for people seeking help at the Montana Mental Health Center in Livingston. Proceeds from the Big Bear Stampede assist with these programs.
The race is held in the Absarokee Mountains on trails overlooking Yellowstone National Park. Runners and walkers will gather at the Eagle Creek Campground 2 miles north of Gardiner to participate in a 9 km race, 5 km race, 5 km walk, or 1 km kids’ run with Smokey Bear. A total of $1,000 in prize money will be awarded to top finishers.
Nikki Kimbal, a highly decorated ultra marathon runner, will speak after the race wraps up. Kimbal has educated herself about strenuous exercise as a way to treat depression and overcome extreme grief. She has said she thinks of running as her medication of choice in a lifelong fight with major depression.
Visit bigbearstampede.org for more information about Big Bear Stampede and its mission or to register for the race.