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Darth Vader runs Death Valley in 126-degree heat

Jon Rice says temperatures inside his mask can reach 180 degrees when running the Darth Valley Challenge.
Darth Vader runs Death Valley in 126-degree heat
Posted at 9:49 AM, Jul 20, 2023

With record heat stifling the Southwestern U.S., Jon Rice embarked on what is likely one of the hottest miles ever run. 

Last week, Rice ran a mile while wearing a Darth Vader costume in the middle of Death Valley. Rice completed the mile as the temperature hit 126 degrees Fahrenheit. Believe it or not, it was not a record for Rice. 

In 2013, he ran when the temperature reached 129 in Death Valley. 

This was the ninth time Rice completed the Darth Valley Challenge. 

"Even a mile in that heat is exhausting, more so when you're recovering from an injury - so I was feeling pretty heavy in the legs and wished I hadn't had to turn back to face the sun at the halfway point from the car. The mask just kept getting hotter," Rice said. 

While exerting yourself in extreme heat can be risky, Rice said he was cautious. To prepare for the event, he trains in a sauna to adapt to the heat. He said he does this training about three to four times a week.

He added that he managed to continue training for the run despite facing injuries.

"After many years of taking safety very seriously in these conditions, I was also confident I would finish without hurting myself," he said.

He admits, however, that the temperature can reach 180 degrees inside the mask and he is breathing in a lot of carbon dioxide.

So should you try running in the extreme heat? The Road Runners Club of America advises against it.

It says athletes should not run when temperatures exceed 98.6 degrees and when the relative humidity tops 70–80%. The group says this kind of heat prevents the body from naturally cooling off.

The club also advises that runners drink fluids before and during runs. It also suggests runners know the signs of heat-related illnesses and immediately stop running and find shade if they exhibit these symptoms.

SEE MORE: What's the cost of an extreme hot summer?


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