All over the world, each and every day, dedicated runners are lacing up their running shoes and hitting the road for a great cause. Come rain, or snow, or sleet, or hail, the run must go on. And this level of commitment must surely take some encouragement, even if that motivation comes from the “wizarding world” of Harry Potter.
The Hogwarts Running Club (HRC), a charitable group of over 25,000 devoted Harry Potter fans/runners of all abilities, goes well beyond the ordinary. The online community, which was started in 2014 by President and Headmaster Brian Biggs, “comes together” through virtual running events designed to not only promote a healthy lifestyle, but help those in need in the process. (#somuchgood) And the club’s motto may be motivating enough for many: Run. Like ‘You Know Who’ is Chasing You.
“HRC is a charity that raises funds for deserving charities by organizing virtual running events inspired by the world of Harry Potter,” says Brian. “With more than 25,000 members in over 35 countries, HRC is dedicated to its mission of ‘changing the muggle world one mile at a time.’ In 2015, HRC raised more than $400,000 for our charity partners who do direct work with literacy, disabled veterans, animals and kids fighting (and beating!) terrible diseases.”
According to the HRC website, here’s how it works: Virtual running, also known as a virtual race, is an event that can be run at any location at any time at any pace. You can walk, use the treadmill, run outside or you can participate in another ‘real-world’ race. It’s completely up to you! You can run your race at your own pace wherever and whenever you like. Is the distance too long? No problem! You can break the distance up over multiple days to make it more manageable. Participants register for “races” on the group’s website, which includes a “magical” finisher’s medal and personalized bib, and even better, all proceeds are donated to charity.
‘“Hogwarts Running Club has ‘Common Rooms” for each Hogwarts House. Along with the ‘HRC Great Hall’ these forums allow runners of all skill levels to exchange knowledge, offer encouragement, and share the joy of running…and, of course, Harry Potter,” Brian explains. Members are encouraged to join the house with which they identify the most. For example, according to the experts, Gryffindor is the house which most values the virtues of courage, bravery and determination.
And this is where the elves at Elfster come in to spread a little of this wizardly magic. To help motivate the members of Gryffindor house, a real-life postcard exchange was organized by house members Michael Bruss and Candi McCane.
“We are using the Elfster site to manage our Postcard exchanges,” Brian says. “Our HRC Houses follow the theme in the books of a tight knit group and people with a common interest and it just so happens to be Harry Potter and running/walking/jogging/cycling/and just being active. We use the site to exchange addresses and send postcards to one another as a way to get to know each other and send encouraging words as we complete races and stay active and healthy.”
“I originally heard about Elfster as I brought the idea of a postcard exchange to our group. Someone mentioned using Elfster for a gift exchange and so I looked into it and we tried it once prior and liked it and so we are doing it again,” he adds. “Our Gryffindor group plans to do 4 postcard exchanges a year. I know other HRC House groups have mentioned using it as well and even for a gift exchange. I think it definitely makes things easier and is something our group will continue to use.”
Friendly competition also takes place among houses, with the goal of logging the most miles and registering for the most virtual events to “take home” the coveted HRC House Cup. In 2015, Ravensclaw took the cup, however, according to the group’s Facebook page, EVERY house averaged more than 100 miles per person for a total of 358,826.2 adjusted miles which resulted in nearly $90,000 for dozens of deserving charities! …And THAT is the number that REALLY matters!
But the real winners are the people they help.
In 2015 alone, HRC made the following amazing donations to a variety of deserving charities:
Miles for Cystic Fibrosis $45,000
Dogs on Deployment $50,000
Achilles International $50,000
Brotherhood Ride $62,500
Harry Potter Alliance $77,500
Noah’s Light Foundation $95,000
“One-Time” Charities $26,171
2015 TOTAL #SOMUCHGOOD: $406,171!!!
And the elves are so proud to help support and motivate these absolutely amazing wizards! “Elfster absolutely makes the exchange more fun. For starters, it makes setting it up and managing the participants super easy,” Brian says. “It also offers the message board which is always full of good conversation.”
Hogwarts Running Club will be organizing six more virtual running events in 2016 and those who are interested should check out its Facebook page or visit its website.
And what’s up their sleeves for 2016? The club will start of the new year with The Molly Weasley Ugly Jumper Run! According to HRC’s website — Our third year begins with the warmth and love of the wizarding world’s most embarrassing apparel. Your participation with the 5k run will also bring warmth and love to others as the proceeds from this race will go to support One Warm Coat and their mission to provide anyone in need with a warm coat, free of charge. Your support will help their efforts organizing more than 3,000 coat drives each year and purchasing brand new coats for kids in need. Go to their page, give them a ‘like’ and then learn more about One Warm Coat by visiting their website at www.onewarmcoat.org
SUGGESTED RUN DATE: Saturday, February 6th! While you can complete the distance any time you want, we are encouraging as many people as possible to complete their 5k on Saturday, February 6th…which is Arthur Weasley’s birthday! And while you’re at it, how about rocking that ugly sweater/jumper you got over the holidays? It’s an excuse to wear it again! As always, this is just a fun suggestion…you can complete your distance any time you’d like! Sign up today and help One Warm Coat give warmth and comfort to those who need it the most…just like Molly did for Harry.
Want to help make a difference? Why not get motivated for 2016 and Run. Like ‘You Know Who’ is Chasing You. The wizards of Hogwarts Running Club will be right there with you.
photo credits: Hogwarts Running Club