In late November 2015, I was getting bored of running. The terrible weather that we were having here in Portland, OR wasn’t helping either. What I did have going for me was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was coming out mid-December. Inspired by Run of Thrones, a project that I did 2 years ago, I started mapping out routes in the shape of iconic Star Wars characters and running them.
The run route drawings accomplish several things for me as a social/casual runner:
- Relevant to the message I want to share through my run
- Every run is a unique run as we are constrained to fixed streets and paths in our respective locations
- Game-like in the sense that it’s like a scavenger hunt for street signs as you move from one step to the next as you complete your run route drawing
- Every run is shareable so that others can complete the run on their own
Before combing through the map for a route, I do a simple sketch of what I want to run and then identify the most iconic parts of the drawing. These are the parts I’ll be looking for when I move to the map.
Once you have identified matching parts from your sketch on the map, build out from there.
When the sketch has been completed, port it over into a route tool (Nike+ Places, Strava Routes, etc.). This will give you an idea around how long your run will be and will also force you to think about how you’re going to approach the run.
Once the directions have been compiled, I go out for the run. If any problems come up during the run, I mentally document it and update the directions afterwards.
Not only did Run Wars put a new lens on running, it inspired runners around the world to look for iconic Star Wars run routes in their respective regions. The most fulfilling part of this project was hearing about other runners in Portland (here, here, here, and here) actually completing these complex runs on their own or with friends.
The Run Wars Collection
The Presence of the Force
- The Webby Awards 2016 Nominee / Weird Category
- Wall Street Journal
- Folha de S. Paolo
- Business Insider
- Women’s Health Magazine
- Strava (Facebook)
- Join the Dark Side, We Have Cookies (Facebook)
- Pix Geeks
- Elite Daily
- CityLabs / The Atlantic
- The Next Web
- The Oregonian / OregonLive
- The Portland Mercury
- Agency Spy
- The Mirror UK
- The Telegraph
- Dutch Cowboys
- @darrenrovell (ESPN)
- HUH Magazine