This Nurse Broke a Record for Running a Marathon In Scrubs for an Important Cause

Samantha Roecker broke a world record and raised more than $43,000 to support fellow nurses.

Image of marathon athletes Samantha Roecker (R) and Bethany Sachtleben (L) pose for pictures after Lima 2019 Pan American Games
Photo: Getty Images

If the COVID-19 pandemic has proven anything, it's that nurses are essential. While some people refer to them as superheroes, at the end of the day, they are people who struggle with the same mental health issues that everyone else does — they just do so while maintaining jobs as caretakers, even under the toughest conditions. That's why Samanatha Roecker, a nurse from Philadelphia, ran the Boston Marathon in scrubs to raise awareness of the mental health crisis nurses currently face. (

Not only did Roecker run 26.2 miles in scrubs (the outfit she wore is from Moxie Scrubs), but she did so in 2:48:2, breaking the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon run in a nurse's uniform, reports Today. She also raised more than $43,000 (and counting) for the American Nurses Foundation's Well-Being Initiative, which supports the mental health and wellness of registered nurses in the U.S.

Roecker, who has been a distance runner since middle school, shared her goal on Instagram earlier this spring, opening up about her motivation to break a world record and bring awareness to how the pandemic has impacted health care workers' mental health. The runner was inspired by a friend and physician assistant who suffered from PTSD, anxiety, and depression after working in an adult COVID unit, she explained in the caption of an Instagram post last week. "I wish her story was unique, but I don't think it is," she added.

Research confirms that her friend's story is one faced by many health care workers. A systemic review published in 2021 found "moderate and high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, and burnout" among health care professionals working on the frontlines of the pandemic. Another systemic review from the same year found nurses were "prone to psychological disorders that can compromise mental health" during the emergency phase of the pandemic.

"This pandemic has shed light on the dangerous consequences of nursing shortages. We are seeing how critical having hospitals fully staffed with rested, respected, and supported nurses is to the sustainability of the entire system," wrote Roecker in an Instagram caption last month.

"Over the next few years we are projected to see a mass exodus of bedside nurses, which could deliver the final blow to an already battered system strained under this global pandemic and staffing shortage," continued Roecker in her caption. Her solution is simple: Support nurses. "[It's] one of the most important ways we can secure the stability of our health care system and start to undo adverse effects a failing system has had on our society."

While support for nurses is needed on a greater scale, you don't have to run a record-breaking marathon to help health care workers. You can still donate to Roecker's fundraiser for the American Nurses Foundation, and most importantly, you can treat nurses with kindness and respect. They may seem like superheroes (especially when running marathons in scrubs), but they're only human and need the same rest and care everyone else does.

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