If there are two things that definitely don’t seem like they go together, it would be nerd and fitness. I can definitely attest to that – a year ago, I had never been an active person, I’d avoided organized sports at every turn and my idea of exercise was racing from one side of a convention center to the other. Of course, all of this changed last May when I ended up in the hospital, was diagnosed with type two diabetes (my blood sugar levels were off the charts!) and told that I needed to make some big changes. My diet took a complete 180 turn, I was suddenly on medication I had to take three times a day and I was giving a little device to check my blood sugar.
But even more so than that, I had to change my activity level. I had gained a lot of weight over the past decade or so to the point that when you put a picture of me and 19 versus 30 and it was a BIG difference. I had let myself get to this point and I needed to change. Of course, this was easier said than done. As I mentioned above…nerd and fitness doesn’t go well together! We talk about in the interview below – nerds tend to be sedentary people – reading books, watching shows, playing video games. We don’t move!
I am excited to have Brian on the blog today. He is one of the brains behind Random Tuesday and the Fanthropy running clubs. I discovered these towards the beginning of my journey last year and I can’t speak highly enough of them. They have been invaluable to me as a person, a runner, a diabetic and a person on a fitness journey and I’m excited to share what they’re all about with my blog family!
I’ve always wanted to be able to run. Two of my younger siblings – a brother and a sister – have been competitive runners for ages; one of them even coached high school cross country for nearly a decade. There always seemed to be something so satisfying about it and I’ve had a goal for years to run a 5K. Of course, I never DID anything to complete that goal but it was always there. When it was announced that a DC Wonder Woman Running series was coming to Los Angeles, I knew it was time – you guys know how I feel about Wonder Woman. You can read about that experience here.
Running was an entirely new ballpark for me. Yes, I’d been supporting my brother and sister for years and had a general grasp on things. I definitely knew what “good” times were and that I was no where near close. I have always had a great, supportive family but I was still terrified to ask them for help – I was, and still am, SO slow when it comes to running. I have weird problems and silly questions and I just didn’t want to deal with that.
My friend Michelle directed me to the then-named Hogwarts Running Club, now renamed Potterhead Running Club, and, more specifically, to the Ravenclaw Common Room. I felt sort of weird about joining a running club, even a virtual one. I didn’t feel like I belonged in the slightest but it turned out I was completely wrong.
What I found was the most encouraging, supportive and amazing running community that I could have found. I have never felt more comfortable and confident asking help for even the smallest, silliest or most basic fitness questions. I found a community of walkers and runners of all speeds and talents.
The Potterhead Running Club is just one of a handful of running clubs under the banner of Fanthropy Running and Random Tuesday. There’s also Whovian Running, Chilton Running and Fandom Running, covering all of the bases. The goal is simple – get people moving and raise money for charity at the same time. They do this in many ways. I am mostly involved in the Potterhead Running Club so I can only speak specifically to that one. But the idea of getting nerds together to be more active and raising money for incredible charities is a wonderful thing. Let’s jump into the interview to learn more!
I’ve been a part of the Potterhead Running Club since last summer but I had the pleasure of meeting Brian this past February when I was wandering around Gallifrey One, a Doctor Who convention here in California. I learned even more about Fandom Running Clubs and it really drove me to want to share it with all of you!
Nerd Girl: Tell me a little bit about Random Tuesday, Fanthropy and the running clubs you’ve created. When did you guys start? There are many ways to support charities, why running? Where did the idea come from? What exactly is “fanthropy”?
Brian: It all started when my wife completed her first half marathon and it inspired me to start running (I had serious “medal envy”). Once I’d completed my first few half marathons, I wanted to run for charity. Unfortunately, the usual “sponsorship model” didn’t work too well. Fortunately, a friend from college introduced me to the concept of virtual running. Since I was such a huge fan of Harry Potter, I thought a virtual running group themed around HP would be a lot of fun. On March 6th, 2014 with little fanfare and a modest goal of raising $500 for cancer research, we launched the then-named Hogwarts Running Club on Facebook.
The club evolved from that initial goal of raising $500 for charity to becoming a way to inspire communities of fans to be more physically active. Geeks are notoriously sedentary. We spend much of our time binge-watching shows, reading books, and playing video games…we don’t spend as much time as we should being physically active. Hence, getting geeks moving is now the primary mission. We motivate people three ways: amazing bling, incredible charities, and welcoming communities that inspire and challenge folks to be more active.
We are fans. We know the passion and enthusiasm that fanatical obsession creates. We also recognize the need to take care of ourselves at both the personal and collective levels and believe the worlds we enjoy through our fandom do not have to be the stuff of fiction. We believe a better world is possible.
Fanthropy is the intersection of fandom and philanthropy.
Nerd Girl: For those that might not be familiar, what exactly is a “virtual run”? What are the benefits and advantages to a virtual run versus an IRL (in real life) race?
Brian: A virtual run allows participants all over the world to register for the event, but they don’t have to go anywhere to complete the run. People register with a $25 donation, complete the distance wherever, however and whenever they choose and we mail them the Potter-themed finisher’s medal for completing the distance. Then the designated charity partner for the event receives the proceeds. All of our charity partners are smaller, lesser-known charities making a quantifiable direct impact to change the world. Virtual runs are great because you don’t have to go anywhere and it doesn’t matter how fast/slow you are. It’s your race, your pace…at your place! So, if someone has a super busy or unpredictable schedule, they can still participate because they don’t have to be at a specific place on a particular day. Also, the $25 donation for the entry fee is a lot less expensive than IRL races…but you still get an awesome medal!
Nerd Girl: How do you go about choosing the charities that are benefited from the races? Is there a way for participants and members of the various clubs to suggest specific charities to support?
Brian: This is one of my favorite things! All of our charity partners are nominated by our participants! If someone has joined our community on FB, follows us on social media or signs up for an event, they have the right to nominate a charity they know and love. All they need to do contact us via our website (rantue.org) or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why they think that organization would be an awesome charity partner.
We receive roughly 500 nominations a year and we only select 15, so it’s very competitive. We focus on charities that are smaller and lesser-known who have a direct impact in the lives of others. Advocacy and awareness charities are great and large multi-million dollar research foundations do amazing things…but we want our support to be a game-changer for our charity partner and have a real impact.
Nerd Girl: The medals are a fun part of participating in these races – they are so clever? How do you come up with the themes of the races and where do these designs for the medals come from?
Brian: Our medals are awesome. They’re awesome because of the artistic talent of our co-founder and Chief Creative Officer (and my wife), Dawn. She’s the creative force behind all of our events. Fortunately, our fandoms (Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Gilmore Girls, D&D, Classic Movies, Supernatural, Buffy…the list is growing) provide a LOT of inspiration and content for ideas. Since the beginning, we’ve always wanted our medals to be the equal to, if not greater than, anything you could get in a live event…and they really are!
Nerd Girl: What were your goals at the beginning of creating this endeavor and have you met them? What are some goals for the future? What do you think is the next step in your fanthropy journey?
Brian: As stated before, this all started with a goal of raising $500 for cancer research. Five years later, we’ve donated nearly $2.5 million and, more importantly, our communities of fans have logged almost 12 million miles for their own physical fitness! Our vision for the future is to be the preeminent fandom-based non-profit in the world and to be a force for positive change. We want more people to discover the benefits of physical activity while being inspired to change not only themselves, but the world around them.
Nerd Girl: You have four solid running clubs at the moment – Potterhead, Whovian, Chilton and Fandom. Fandom does seem to cover a lot of bases. What are some fandoms you’ve done in the past that people would be excited to see and what are some coming up in the future? Do you have any plans for creating another distinct running club?
Brian: Fandom Running Club (FRC) just got started in late 2018 and operates a little differently than the other three. We have “series” of races that could be just 2 or 3 events or go on for years. This allows us to “dip our toes” into a fandom and see if that fandom is cool with virtual running. If things go well, we keep going with that series. If not, we do a couple events, shut down that series and try a new one. It also gives us the flexibility to do a series for smaller fandoms that don’t have enough content for an entire running club. We currently have four fandom series: The Chaotic Series for D&D fans, The Cult Classic Series for awesome movies like the Breakfast Club (you’re going to see a lot of John Hughes films here), The Slayer Series for Buffy fans, and The Winchester Series for Supernatural fans.
We’re not planning on starting any additional distinct clubs any time soon. Thankfully, FRC gives us the ability to explore a lot of fandoms.
Nerd Girl: What would you say to someone who is a huge fangirl/boy and loves Harry Potter, Doctor Who, etc but doesn’t feel like they could participate in something like this? What is about fanthropy and these running clubs that gets people who normally aren’t active to be active?
Brian: People are all unique and each person is motivated in different ways. Some folks are motivated by the bling. Some are inspired by the charities we support. Others thrive on community. We provide all of these things. Everyone is welcome in our community regardless of what they look like, where they come from, or their current fitness level. There are three basic rules for our community: No Religion, No Politics and No Hate. Hence, we’ve created the Happiest Place on the Internet. In that community, people have found inspiration and motivation they’ve never experienced before…and we’re talking in a common language: their fandom. We celebrate every mile – every tenth of a mile – and encourage everyone because we’re all at different points in our fitness journey. We have folks who run 100 miles a week and others who are 200 pounds overweight…but we’re all Fanthropists.
Nerd Girl: I know that its probably very hard to narrow down, but can you recall some of the best moments from the past years, whether its races or feedback from members of the running club? Have you ever garnered attention from “celebrities” from the fandoms?
Brian: The best moments happen every day. I’ve seen people post very personal things in their PHRC Common Room or in the WRC TARDIS. Things they haven’t told their family or IRL friends yet. But they felt supported and welcomed enough by our community to post. I’ve seen people’s transformation photos since they’ve joined our clubs and I’ve seen them happier and more comfortable with their bodies. That’s awesome. And then there are the IRL life-long friendships…and even a couple romantic relationships…that have come to pass because of our community. We’ve seen people fly halfway around the planet to spend time with a best friend that they’d never met. That’s incredible.
Nerd Girl: If someone reading this interview could only take one thing from it, what would you want that to be? What is something you want someone brand new to Fanthropy to know, in order to hopefully have them check it out?
Brian: Just ONE take away?
Ok, here it is: Think very carefully about what you want out of life before checking us out.
If you enjoy negativity, think twice. If you’ve given up and think the world is too far gone to be changed, stay away. If you’re too embarrassed to claim your geekiness, this isn’t for you. If you dislike endless hours of laughter, inspiration, and friendship, then look elsewhere.
BUT…if there is a glimmer of hope for the world in your heart…if a small spark of faith in humanity remains…if you’ve been searching endlessly for acceptance for who you are and someone to help you become who you want to be, then, Welcome. You just found your tribe.
Thank you so much to Brian for letting me bother him for an interview so that I could share the wonderful things he and the amazing team at Random Tuesday do every single day. I absolutely LOVE what they’re doing and love signing up for races, getting the seriously cool medals in the mail and enjoying the amazing community that has been created online. I hope you do too! Check out all the helpful links below!
You can find out out more about Random Tuesday by visiting their website OR by checking out their different running clubs below. I am partial to the Facebook pages – they lead to the individual teams, like the PHRC Ravenclaw Common Room and more, where you get an amazing amount of support!
Potterhead Running Club
Current Race – The Pensieve 10K – Sign Up Through May 5th! Benefits Music & Memory!
Whovian Running Club
Current Race -Skaro Sprint Half Marathon – Sign Up Through April 28th! Benefits BEST Robotics!
Chilton Running Club
Current Race – Nothing at the moment. Stay tuned!
Fandom Running Club
Current Races – Don’t You 4K About Me (The Breakfast Club), Forged by Fire 5K (Dungeons and Dragons), The Baby 6.7K (Supernatural), The Chosen Run 5K (Buffy) – All Ongoing and Benefiting Random Tuesday Charity Partners!
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