Marathon runner

Harry Potter Inspired This Marathon Runner to Cross the Finish Line

When Nicoletta Richardson secured a place in the 2017 TCS NYC marathon, the biggest runner’s marathon in the world, she knew she had to find something other than music to keep her eye on the prize during the course of the 26.2 mile run.


When she asked coworkers for recommendations, someone suggested downloading the Harry Potter audiobooks. Though Richardson had watched every Harry Potter film, she had never read the series before. Months later, however, it would be the series itself which she would credit with getting her across the finish line. 


In an article published by Womens Health Magazine, Richardson recounts her demanding first ever marathon and how the Harry Potter audiobooks helped her to overcome it.


The first day I listened to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone… Immediately, I thought, ‘This didn’t happen in the movie…’ And in just a few moments the unthinkable happened: I was hooked…The new characters and the plot twists I never knew existed kept me on my toes, quite literally.



Image Via Nicoletta Richardson/Women’s Health Mag


Richardson listened to the first three books in the series during her four months training in preparation for the marathon. By the time marathon was underway, Richardson’s first ever marathon, that is, she had listened up until the fourth book. The series, narrated by Jim Dale, proved to be a tremendous source of support for Richardson.


For almost all of my long runs during training, Harry Potter and his friends helped me fly across the park and hit my mileage goal—just like catching up to the golden snitch and winning the Quidditch game. Moral of the story: It’s amazing what your body can do when you’re not over-thinking your every move.


What made the experience even more wonderful was the sort of community bonding it elicited. According to Richardson, when she told fellow runners that she would be listening to the Harry Potter series throughout the run, it brought back a sense of nostalgia for them. 


“Their faces lit up—tears swelling in some of their eyes—as they eagerly told me about their childhood memories with the beloved series. After that, I felt more confident than ever that I had chosen the right training tool,” she said.



Image Via Nicoletta Richardson/Women’s Health Mag


With the marathon officially underway Richardson found it a bit more difficult than she anticipated to follow along with the audiobooks given the “energetic spectators” cheering on along the entire route. She listened to the fourth Harry Potter book “off and on for the first fourteen miles” then, as her body was feeling the sting of the run, switched to some pump-up music until mile twenty. Though it appeared to help her carry on, she was steadily approaching “the wall”.


According to Richardson, “the wall” is the physical resistance you begin to feel after your body, worn down by the physical demands of such a marathon mixed with the lack of nutrients from food begins to shut down in order to preserve necessary nutrients. While it doesn’t always happen to every runner, it happened to Richardson. Her vision began to get blurry, her mind began to tell her body that she was tired, but she didn’t give in. 


I snapped back into focus. I refused to give in.And that’s when Harry Potter came to the rescue. I tuned into my audio book, zoned out my surroundings, and tried to focus on the voice of Jim Dale describing the campsites at the Quidditch World Cup. And just like in training, the audio book did the trick. Before I knew it, I was making my way to Central Park just miles away from the finish line. And for that, I will be forever grateful to my co-workers, Jim Dale, and—of course—J.K. Rowling.


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Image Via Nicoletta Richardson/Women’s Health Mag


As she finally crossed the finish line, Richardson could officially utter “mischief managed.” Harry Potter is awe-inspiring, and the multiple ways in which its inspiration can be seen are pretty incredible. 


You can read Richardson’s full amount here on Womens Health Magazine.


Featured Image Courtesy of Nicoletta Richardson/Amazon