Running2bWell resumes outdoor in-person meetups, regaining participation


Kent Running2bWell group.

Running2bWell resumed in-person meetups on March 15. The return follows several months of Zoom meetings and lowered participation. Now, the organization sees many people returning and operates similarly to the way it did pre-pandemic. 

Initially the running group was formed for people recovering from addiction, but it also welcomes people dealing with mental health afflictions and those who simply want a running group to join.

According to Founder Keith Johnston, running sessions resumed with minimal long-lasting effects from COVID-19.

“As I compare year to year,” Johnston said, “we’re about where we were even two years ago. I don’t think the pandemic has really hurt us per say.”

The organization plans to continue in-person while weather permits and COVID-19 numbers remain low enough for outdoor activity to be safe.

Johnston encourages people to wear a mask when meetups begin and the organization monitors COVID-19 numbers closely. If the number of new cases gets too high in a county where Running2bWell meets, the sessions in that county will be postponed until further notice.

For the founders and mentors of Running2bWell, the organization provides a pivotal service for people with substance abuse and mental health issues.

“People in recovery … they feel that to fit into a regular activity sometimes can be a challenge,” Board President Bernie Rochford said. “So that’s a safe space for them.”

With the lack of safe spaces to gather and the added stress of the pandemic, some people worried that the recovery communities would see a spike in relapses and overdoses through the pandemic. 

“I think COVID has an underreported effect on people’s recovery,” Johnston said. “And I think it’s going to be coming out of the pandemic that I think we’re going to be facing some tough times in the recovery community.”

The organization intends to alleviate some of the stressors that might trouble the recovery community as a result of the pandemic.

“What we’re doing is counteracting the isolation and anxiety that everyone’s feeling because of COVID,” Johnston said.

People looking to join Running2bWell can visit any of several locations listed on the organization’s website and social media. Meetings are currently held across three different counties, Medina, Summit and Portage County, with start times between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Two Running2bWell groups meet in Kent regularly, one at United Methodist Church and another at Al Lease Park.

Anthony Elder covers crisis, recovery, hunger and help. Contact him at [email protected].