Megan Searfoss is certainly a familiar face around town – you can find her helping customers in her Main Street store, Ridgefield Running Company; encouraging participants at the starting line of Run Like a Mother; or leading a group run on a Saturday morning. Searfoss, who’s store was recently voted Best Running Store in America, wants people to know that she’s here to stay. “I’m in this for the long run,” she says. “I love the “long run” and what it can do for my fitness, but I’m also committed to being in this town as a contributor, a community person, and a retailer for the long run.”
Searfoss, who also owns Darien Running Company, is no stranger to long runs. She began her own running journey when her sister challenged her to train for a race – a marathon no less. Since then, Searfoss has become a competitive athlete, having completed over 20 marathons, 9 Ironman distance events – including the Ironman World Championships, and countless other races. While she excels at the long-distance races, she also loves introducing and encouraging people to take their own first steps to move forward. “What I love about my business is that we’re here for the health aspect. Everyone who walks in our store wants to move forward in some shape or form,” says Searfoss.
“Forward Together” is the main motto of Ridgefield and Darien Running Stores, as symbolized by the store’s logo the triskelion. It is a Celtic symbol dating back to Neolithic times and appears to have three legs that are in motion. The symbol represents movement and is believed to embody a tale of forward motion in order to reach life understanding. Searfoss knows the importance of moving forward – in a literal sense, move your body – and in the figurative sense, don’t get stuck. “You can’t go anywhere today and not know that moving is good for you,” she says.
Searfoss is passionate about encouraging all people, but especially mothers, to make health and movement a part of their daily lives. Her Run Like a Mother race offers training and support to women looking to conquer their first 5K race – either in person or virtually. “Taking the time for yourself, leaving your phone behind, and just being out there and having your heartrate beating quicker than it was before, is priceless,” says Searfoss.
Another program aimed toward getting people moving is RRC’s Frozen Feet Challenge, which launches in early January and challenges people to get outside to run or walk a mile outside every day for six weeks. “It gets people out there and committed to moving every day,” Searfoss says. “We’ve had over 1500 people sign up for this program and many of them continue with their moving streak.”
Searfoss and RRC’s most recent collaboration was with the Prospector Theater this past summer. RRC partnered with On Shoes and put together a running program, hosted three runs for the Prospects, and culminated with a “Reel Run” complete with a finish line arch and medals. “To share that feeling of ‘I can do this’ with the Prospects was great,” says Searfoss. “My team and I support anything that helps people find their forward.”
Another example of encouraging moving forward is RRC and DRC’s involvement with Kicks for Kids and the Bridgeport Field of Dreams Foundation. In 2021, Jeremy Susi and Mina Rasmussen, two coaches from Bassicks High School in Danbury, contacted Searfoss to see if she had any leftover sneakers they could buy to outfit their newly formed cross-country team. They had only 13 members but many of them didn’t own running shoes. “We decided to fit these kids with brand new sneakers and spikes,” says Searfoss. “We immediately saw the magic of these kids and their investment in themselves to run.”
After this successful first event, Searfoss and her team realized that there were a lot of other students in the area who could benefit from the Kicks for Kids program. “Now I include a postcard in every FCIAC coach’s packet that they can give to a student who might need assistance in getting new shoes,” says Searfoss. Ridgefield and Darien Running are committed to getting kids into properly fitting shoes and allowing them to compete on an even track with other athletes. “It’s really very rewarding to
feel like we’re making a difference,” says Searfoss.
This spring, Searfoss and RRC will be the title sponsor for ArtFul Kicks Public Art Event, which will raise money through the auction of artist-designed fiberglass sneakers that will be displayed around town. The kick-off event will coincide with the Run Like A Mother race in Ballard Park on May 12th. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the Artful Visual Arts Initiative and Kicks for Kids. “Supporting causes like Kicks for Kids – getting shoes to athletes who need them – represents everything I believe in,” says Searfoss.