How Harry Potter Fandom Changed My Life

How the Hogwarts Running Club helped me get through the most painful year.

Posted Jun 07, 2018

The accident happened 15 years ago. I injured my knee during a rehearsal for a dance competition and after months of physical therapy, my doctor told me that I would never run or dance again. 

I grieved. I cried. I did not question it. I gave up without even trying. 

Then three years ago, my world came crashing down. I was going through a divorce, my father attempted suicide, and I was struggling with another depressive episode. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle it or how I was going to get through it. 

In the middle of my darkest period, I had a glimpse of light. A thought came to me. I was going to try to run a mile. I knew I couldn't do it immediately. I would have to train up to it. 

So I downloaded the C25K application (couch to 5K) and decided to follow it. On June 1, 2015, I started the app. I gave myself the permission to stop when I needed to; I allowed myself as much of a break as I needed so long as I finished the training for that day. 

The training was by no means easy, but it was manageable. 

There were certainly days when I needed to slow down. There were a few times when I needed to stop the training part of the way through due to increased pain. But I gave myself the permission to do it, and the next day I would try again. 

Nearly two months later, on July 20 of 2015, I ran my first mile without stopping. I felt as if I had just climbed Mt. Everest. I never truly believed I could do it until I did. 

I started looking into other training and running opportunities. I partnered up with my dear friends and enlisted them to run with me. I also joined a Harry Potter-based virtual running club, the Hogwarts Running Club, and it has changed my life.  

Hogwarts Running Club
Source: Hogwarts Running Club

The Hogwarts Running Club (HRC) is a non-profit organization, which seeks to support different charities and causes by setting up Harry Potter-themed virtual races. In doing so, the HRC also supports and encourages its members to exercise. Furthermore, the members get to pick the house they would like to be a part of (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, or Slytherin). The members of each of the houses can then compete to win points for their house through running, walking, or biking.

Joining this club gave me the motivation I needed to start training for bigger runs, and training with my friends allowed me the strength to keep going. After completing my first ever 5K in October 2015, I went on to do a 10K in November and a half-marathon in January 2016. 

Being a proud Slytherin (and therefore extremely ambitious), I did not want to stop there, I wanted to train for a full marathon. I trained for 2 years in secret–from everyone except for my HRC friends. It was an extremely difficult journey. I had many months where I wasn't training at all because life got in the way. But there were also months of consistent training. 

There were times of excitement about running and times of physical pain, where I had to learn to let go of my ambition and allow myself to rest, and then get up and try again.

And so, on June 3, 2018, I did it. I ran my first marathon with my HRC friends as well as my incredible partner, with my wonderful friends supporting me from afar. 

It was an experience unlike anything I've ever done before. The runners were all extremely kind to one another; it felt like a tight-knit community. 

The spectators, as well as the volunteers, helped us to stay fed and hydrated along the run. Many spectators also offered to spray us with a water hose to keep us cool, which felt amazing. 

I will admit that there were times along the run that I didn't think I would make it, but the people around me–as well as my dedication to HRC and my loved ones–kept me going.  ​

I finished after six hours and 26 minutes. I was sore. I was tired. And I've never felt as alive as I did that day.