Creator of the

Darth Valley Challenge

2014 Penthouse Top 10 Badass of the Year Award

The Darth Valley Challenge is very simple. You dress up in a Star Wars costume, you head down to Death Valley on the hottest day of the year, and you run a mile as fast as possible!

It’s silly, it’s weird, and it has been seen by over 100 million people… and I really was in Penthouse. Of which I should be less proud.

Image
Course Record
Set by Jon in 2011
6 minutes and 13 seconds for the one mile sprint, at 125˚F in full costume - and this was before I drilled air holes in the mask!
Image
Hottest Run
A world record June temperature
In 2013 I ran at 4pm - the temperature was officially recorded at 129.2˚F. This is the hottest measured on Earth since the likely-unreliable record of 134˚F in 1913.
Image
Global Reach
15 minutes of fame!
The 2013 DVC was featured in countless publications, on the radio from South Africa to the UK, and on TV from the USA to Brazil, Norway and China.
Image
A Crew Of Characters
And an inestimable Princess Leia
Other participants have included Chewbacca, R2D2, Han Solo, Princess Leia (both costumes!), a Sand Person, Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Jango Fett!
NBC NewsThe Huffington PostNational Public RadioThe Weather ChannelUSA TodayRunner's WorldSyfy
A guy in a Darth Vader suit may have just run the hottest mile EVER!
NBC News
Surprisingly, the hardest part is not the heat, but the mask, Jon told HuffPost. “You’re just breathing in your own carbon dioxide."
The Huffington Post
Jon, the man behind the mask, is helping uphold Death Valley’s reputation as a magnet for the eccentric.
National Public Radio
"All Things Considered"
This sounds like an extremely dangerous activity to most people, and that's because it is.
The Weather Channel
The Force was with him. It must have been, otherwise he’d be dead. Jon ran a 6:36 mile in Death Valley on a day when temperatures climbed to 129F.
USA Today
From the sure-why-not file comes word of another successful year for the Darth Valley Challenge!
Runner's World
Even if it seems totally ridiculous, it’s hard not to be sort of inspired when you see Jon in action.
Syfy
Blastr

A Few Links…

Brief And Silly International Stardom
What The Heck?
Yeah, that's pretty much what I was going for when I came up with the idea of running around Death Valley in July wearing a Darth Vader costume. As someone who has enjoyed running around the hottest place in the world since 1997, I eventually figured I was due a new challenge. I decided to wear black. And a mask. Which left... Batman and Darth Vader. And since parts of Star Wars were filmed here, I went with the Sith Lord. The first time I ran the mile, I knew I'd be doing it over and over again. The looks of sheer bewilderment on the faces of drivers as they passed were priceless. It felt right to bring some levity to this beautiful, yet dangerous landscape. I ran the DVC for seven years, until The Force was no longer with me.
A Strange Facebook Message
A High School friend and fellow runner whom I hadn't spoken with in over 25 years sent me a message: it read "What the hell are you doing on the front page of the Qatari Times?" At this point I wasn't entirely surprised - the 2013 Darth Valley Challenge was picked up by the L.A. Times, then by MSN, and then it spread rapidly. I was interviewed by the BBC Radio 5 morning show, South African National Radio, and an impromptu Skype session resulted in a U.S. TV spot on a syndicated morning segment, 'Right This Minute'. It was on Fox Sports, the front page of Yahoo, and I was put on standby to fly to New York to film with The Today Show (they eventually realized that skateboarding chipmunks truly are more interesting than a fat guy running in a silly outfit). Both of the au pairs who had lived with my family for a year each called me in hysterical fits of laughter (one from Sweden, one from France) after seeing the run on TV. Norway, China, Russia, Brazil - it went truly viral. A feature on NPR's 'All Things Considered' was a personal favorite. Even respectable publications like The Sunday Times, Runner's World and Competitor Magazine picked it up, much to the chagrin of my dad - a REAL runner! At an extremely conservative estimate, at least 100 million people saw The Darth Valley Challenge... and I hope most of them smiled.
Audience:At least 100 million
Silliness Factor:The Kessel Run In 10 Parsecs