Man dressed as Darth Vader runs a mile in Death Valley

Jul 3, 2013, 11:07 AM | Updated: 2:11 pm

It’s June in Death Valley. It’s 129 degrees outside. What would you do for fun? For Jonathan Rice, it’s time to run through the desert dressed as Darth Vader.

He calls it the Darth Valley Challenge.

Jonathan and his friends, complete with a support crew dressed as other Star Wars characters, run a mile every year from the Badwater Junction to Furnace Creek.

David Boze, filling in for Dori, asked Jon how he came up with the run.

“I’m 42, a little bit rounder in the belly than I used to be, I’m not a competitive athlete anymore so I had to come up with something that was a real challenge,” said Jon. “And I decided that kind of heat, plus a black costume to absorb even more heat, plus a mask so that you couldn’t breath – well, that would be difficult.”

And Jon doesn’t just jog the mile, he sprints it at pace of 6 minutes and 19 seconds.

Jon said he’s actually been running in Death Valley for 17 years, and the Darth Valley Challenge is in its fourth year. And after this year’s run in 130 degree weather on June 30, he’s up for a Guinness World Record for hottest mile run.

He says it’s not for the faint of heart – he works out in a sauna, trains in the heat, and drinks plenty of water.

“I take extreme precautions, I am very, very careful. And anybody who does this needs to be very, very careful; the heat will kill you,” said Jon.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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Man dressed as Darth Vader runs a mile in Death Valley