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Man who dressed as Darth Vader to run a mile through Death Valley's lethal heat says no one else should try

Man who dressed as Darth Vader to run a mile through Death Valley's lethal heat says no one else should try

Star Wars super fan Jon Rice has been running dressed in Death Valley for over 13 years, but has warned others not to do the same.

While most Star Wars fans have dressed up as Darth Vader at some point, one man has taken cosplay to a whole new extreme.

Rather than simply pretending to be in a galaxy far, far, away, Jon Rice has taken to running a mile through Death Valley as the iconic Disney villain.

Called the ‘Darth Valley’ challenge, the impressive feat sees Jon dress up as Darth Vader, arrive at Death Valley on the hottest day of the year, and run a mile as fast as possible through a route which passes by many filming locations.

It’s even more impressive when you consider the extreme heat of Death Valley, which is littered with warning signs advising people not to visit.

Known as the ‘hottest place on Earth’, the temperature soared to an insane 128 degrees Fahrenheit this year - thanks to a combination of climate change and an intense heatwave.

The mercury has climbed even higher during other runs, but Rice has still managed to complete the annual event in full Darth gear.

However, Jon, originally from the UK, has revealed that people will need more than the Force to help them finish the Darth Valley challenge.

Dubbing it 'a ludicrously dangerous endeavor', the Star Wars fan explained on his blog that he has run in Death Valley for over 13 years and has become familiar with the warning signs of heat stroke, as well as other dangerous illnesses.

Jon Rice has admitted the mask is particularly unpleasant while running.
Jon Rice

So much so, when speaking to Insider and asked for his advice to others who might want to take on the challenge, he said, simply: "Don't."

"This is exceptionally dangerous," he added. "The human body is not designed to do this."

In an attempt to prepare himself, Jon sweats it out in saunas and run three marathons as part of his intense training.

Despite this, he admits that it isn't easy running in Darth’s iconic costume during the short course.

“Yes, it’s utterly, insanely tough to sprint for a mile in that heat, but funnily enough it’s the breathing that’s hardest,” he explained in his blog.

“…Even with new air holes it’s still almost impossible to get any air inside the mask. Especially with the balaclava on underneath.”

Whilst Jon might end up inadvertently doing an impression of the breathy baddie, the run is made even more difficult by the intense temperatures under the mask.

The Star Wars fan has urged others not to attempt to run in Death Valley as it 'is exceptionally dangerous'.
David McNew/Getty Images

“As for the heat itself, I estimate that inside the mask it’s probably 180 degrees… and you’re mostly breathing your own CO2 for the last half-mile,” revealed the 52-year-old.

Though it leaves him understandably hot and bothered, Jon explained that he continues the challenge because he loves 'the look on people’s faces as they pass by in their air-conditioned cars'.

The avid runner also admits he like a challenge, having previously completed the mile-long course in just six minutes and 13 seconds.

Seems like this super-fan is running lightspeed.

Featured Image Credit: Laura Rice / Owen Smith/Getty Images

Topics: Star Wars, Film and TV, US News, Weird, Climate Change