The Darth Valley Challenge

A one-mile sprint…

At the hottest time of the day…

On the hottest day of the year…

In the hottest place on Earth…

Dressed as Darth Vader.

Obviously.

What is the Darth Valley Challenge?

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

Darth Vader’s record is 6:13 for the mile… in 2013 it was a world-record June temperature of 129F but he still managed a 6:36 mile!

WHO WOULD DO THIS?

Jon Rice, originally from England and now living in the USA, is the mastermind/bumbling idiot behind the Darth Valley Challenge.

As he told The Washington Post in 2023:

He’s willing to accept the possibility of being hurt in exchange for the joy the project brings to his life — and, he said, to the lives of others. Early in the era of his Darth Valley runs, he noticed people leaning out their car windows and staring with shock and amusement as they passed him on the road.

“I just thought, ‘What a fantastic thing, to bring a tiny little bit of wonder back into someone’s life,’” Rice said. “I loved the idea that people had stories to tell when they got home.”

Safety

Darth Vader forgot his hydration pack

DANGER OF DEATH

No joke. Pushing your heart rate this high, in this heat, could kill you. Jon takes safety incredibly seriously, and trains year-round in the sauna to acclimate to the incredible heat. And he only runs fast when he’s crewed.

Our strong advice: do NOT try this stunt in extreme heat. Learn more about Death Valley safety here.

DEATH VALLEY

Death Valley is one of the most beautiful, and dangerous, places in America. In summer the pavement can reach 200F. People die every year due to poor preparation and bad luck. Don’t be one of them.

WHY SO DANGEROUS?

When the ambient temperature is higher than your body’s temperature – 98F – then the body cannot radiate heat and sweat will not evaporate. Instead of cooling, the air around you increases body temperature – quickly resulting in dehydration, heatstroke and eventually death.

YOU MUST BE NUTS

Well, yeah. Anyone who does this is probably a little crazy / dumb. If you truly want to try extreme temperature running, please visit Heat Running for some useful ideas on training and safety. It could save your life.

WHY DO YOU DO THIS?

When George Mallory was asked why he planned to climb Mount Everest, he replied simply, “Because it’s there.”

So why does Jon do this? “Because he’s an idiot,” is probably the right answer, but it doesn’t sound so noble.

Heat Kills. Don’t Do This.

Darth Valley in the news

Jon's Mile Times Over The Years

1
2010
1
2016
1
2011
1
2021 (solo)
1
2012 (injured)
1
2022
1
2013
1
2023 (solo)
1
2014
1
2015
1
2010
1
2011
1
2012 (injured)
1
2013
1
2014
1
2015
1
2016
1
2021 (solo)
1
2022
1
2023 (solo)

A Sub-6 Darth Valley Mile?

At forty-three years old, it’s now fifteen years since I last ran a sub-6 mile. It was a 5:38, and…
Record Temps in Death Valley

The Hottest Day in History?

The Guinness Book of World Records lists July 10th 1913 as the hottest day in human measured history, at 134F.…

LAND OF BEAUTY, SERENITY AND PEACE.

OH, AND DEATH. CAN'T FORGET ABOUT THE DEATH.

Darth Valley Challenge 2013

THINGS TO SEE IN DEATH VALLEY

Mesquite Flat Dunes

MESQUITE FLAT DUNES
22 MILES NW OF FURNACE CREEK ON 190.

The Dunes are beautiful and photogenic, especially at sunset – but they are much harder to hike than they look, and those big dunes are not just over the next hillock!

Hike with extreme care, take plenty of water, and plan for at least two hours if you intend to get to the biggest dunes

Harmony Borax Works

HARMONY BORAX WORKS
1.5 MILES NORTH OF FURNACE CREEK

Borax mining was never glamorous, seldom successful, and probably didn’t make the 20-mule teams very happy.

But at Harmony you can see some of the remnants of an 1883 mine and its equipment – an easy jaunt down the street from Furnace Creek, on a paved footpath if you happen to be in the mood.'

Remember that many other mines in the area are extremely dangerous and prone to collapse. Big holes in Death Valley are rarely good news.

Badwater Basin

BADWATER BASIN
18 MILES SOUTH OF F/C ON BADWATER RD.

The Badwater Basin is home to the lowest point in the United States, at 282 feet below sea level.

There is a wonderful stroll out onto the plain for half a mile or so, after which the true nature of the salt pan reveals itself – brittle salt formations that perch atop scalding water.

As always, bring water and let people know where you’re going and when you’ll be back!

Artist’s Drive

ARTIST'S DRIVE
5 MILES S. OF FURNACE CK - BADWATER RD

This stunning 9-mile loop climbs approximately 1,100 feet in the first mile-and-a-half… making it a pretty tough run in 120F heat! Spectacular views across the salt plain await you, followed by a roller-coaster through the foothills.

Take time to stop and enjoy the greens, reds and even blues that emerge when the sun is low. Note that the road is one-way and can be slow at times.

Dante’s View

DANTE'S VIEW
30 MILES S. OF F/C ON DANTE'S RD.

Although it takes a little effort to get up to this elevation, the views are truly spectacular – especially in the evening, when the sun sinks directly opposite you over Telescope Peak.

It gets surprisingly windy and – shock, horror – even mildly chilly late at night, even in summer. You’re 5,475 feet higher than the specks of cars below. This is also the ultimate stargazing spot. With Indian Peaks AFB a few miles away (drone central) there are not even any planes above…

Scotty’s Castle

SCOTTY'S CASTLE
53 MILES N. OF F/C ON SCOTTY'S CASTLE RD.

Strange stories about ‘Death Valley’ Scotty and his friend Albert Johnson (who may or may not have been swindled into the deal) have always added to the mystique of this virtually self-sufficient desert hideaway, completed in 1939.

Scotty himself was known as an inveterate… let’s say exaggerator… while Albert’s wife Bessie was known as the money. Between the three of them they created an enduring Death Valley legend, and a great side tour for visitors to the National Park.