Running Over Depression: A Monroe County Man’s Story

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It's "running season" right now, a time that people are participating in 5k races or busy training for fall marathons.  One man from Monroe County is among them, but he's not exactly training for time.  He likes to say he's running for his life.

Each year, in the fall, the Steamtown Marathon draws thousands of runners from all over to tackle the 26.2 mile course between Forest City and downtown Scranton.  For the last seven or eight years--so many he can't remember--42-year-old Jim Shoopack, a teacher from East Stroudsburg, has been one of them.

"In soccer when I played, I played goalie so I didn't have to run all that much. Well lo and behold, God has a sense of humor because it's now 26.2 at a clip!" Shoopack said.

How he got into running in the first place is what Jim wanted to talk about. Fifteen years ago, he says something changed out of the blue.

"I could snap at any moment. The littlest things would bother me.  (I was) sad, sullen, thoughts of suicide," Jim admits.  And he kept those feelings in for months.

"How am I gonna tell somebody? There's a stigma. Who do you talk to about this stuff?" he wondered.

He eventually found a doctor he trusted, who diagnosed him with depression. He says medication did work for him, but his doctor also had one more recommendation: exercise. So one step at a time, he started walking.  The walk turned into a jog, and the jog turned into running a bit faster.

"One mile became two miles. Then I trained for a 5K."

These days, Jim has his sights set on marathons.

"That's why I want to do 100 marathons, to get back the 100 days I lost being depressed," Jim told us.

As of today, he has run 21 marathons.  With his wife's support, he's done four in just the last four months.  One of his favorites?  The Run for the Red in the Poconos, which is practically in his backyard.  And his depression?  It's in check, which he attributes to lacing up those running shoes and hitting the pavement.

Shoopack started a website back in 2005.  It's  You can find him on Facebook and Instagram at Run Over Depression, and on Twitter @HelpYouOvercome.