Rob Krar: Running with Depression

Author: Movember
 
Legendary Canadian ultrarunner Rob Krar has joined forces with men’s health charity, the Movember Foundation to raise awareness of the crisis in men’s mental health.
 
In a new documentary called Rob Krar: Running With Depression commissioned by Movember, the 41-year-old endurance athlete reveals how he contemplated suicide last year following an injury threatened to end his running career.
 
The short film by award-winning director James Q Martin, offers a glimpse into how long-distance running and talking about his mental health have helped Rob from Hamilton, Ontario, deal with the pain of his chronic depression.
 
Rob, who became a star in the ultra-long-distance running world after winning second place in his first 100-miler in 2013, said: “I've struggled with depression nearly half my life. I was silent for too long, cycling through phases of denial, anger and shame. I met my wife in 2009 and Christina was the first person I'd ever spoken to openly about it.
 
“Soon after my life took an unexpected turn and I found myself running 100-mile races. I felt comfortable in the trail and ultra-running community, enough to share with others the darkness I feel when depression seems to have a strangle hold on my hope and happiness. I've been afforded a small platform to make what I can of it and breaking the stigma of mental health and depression is at the forefront of my effort.”
 
In July 2017 during a 50K race, Rob hyperextended his leg, requiring major knee surgery (cadaver cartilage replacement) after which he was told by his surgeon that he might never run again. The film explores what Rob describes as the darkest moments of his life.
 
He said: “Last year was a pretty fascinating and difficult year coming off a nearly career-ending injury and having some difficult dark spots. I went through an amazing journey in overcoming my darkest demons, while working hard to get back into running form.”
 
In early 2018, Krar began to run again, which led to his August win in the Leadville 100, the 100-mile ultra in the Colorado Rockies.
 
He said: “It was the most meaningful race of my life both physically but also mentally. It inspired a lot of people, not just in the sense of performing well, but in knowing that you can come back from a dark place.
 
Rob, who is now based in Flagstaff, Arizona, has backed the Movember Foundation’s Man of More Words campaign which encourages men to open up when they are struggling with their mental health.
 
Being a man, so often we’ve grown up in an atmosphere where we’ve felt that we need to hold our feelings close to our hearts and not be vulnerable. But I know it takes more courage and strength to allow yourself to be open and vulnerable. 
 
He adds: “Certainly I’ve been open about depression for a while but last year I had the darkest time of my life. It was the closest time I’ve ever come to taking my life. It’s only been this year that I’ve actually spoken about suicide.
 
“It’s the next level for me of being open and vulnerable. Hearing myself say that in the film was pretty dramatic. It’s something that is important to speak openly about. There is a taboo associated with depression, and when you mention the ‘s’ word it almost takes it to the next level. Hopefully that’s another threshold to cross to create open communication.”
 
He added: “When Movember reached out I was impressed with the work they do, and one of the things I’ve found most rewarding is having this platform. I want to do a little good in this crazy world so sharing my struggles has been important for me.
 
“I don’t have all the answers but knowing there are other people out there feeling the same way can bring a lot of solace and encourage others to keep on keeping on. Letting people know that they aren’t alone and there are so many people suffering in a similar way.”
 
Filmaker James 'Q' Martin said: “When Rob asked me to be part of Movember's film project, I knew we were going to cross the line and venture into the dark place and talk openly about his deep struggle with depression and his thoughts of suicide.

“Working with Rob for the Movember film was eye opening and heartwarming. I believe I learned a lot about my friend and this disease. I am honored that Movember chose to trust me and allowed me to make a film which goes beyond the surface level of depression. It is my hope this piece will help educate and inspire, thus saving lives from the disease of mental illness.”
 
 • To find out more about the Movember Foundation’s work in mental health and suicide prevention visit www.Movember.com/talk