Run Wars

Project Overview

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.

Partial helmet and mouth piece identified on 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.

Mapping your route out informs you how long the run will be.

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.

Turn-by-turn cards manually created to be used on the run.


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

Darth Vader / Portland, OR / Directions

C3PO / Portland, OR / Directions

Yoda / Portland, OR / Directions

Stormtrooper / Portland, OR / Directions

Imperial Shuttle / Portland, OR / Directions

AT-AT Walker / Portland, OR / Directions

R2D2 / New York, NY / Directions

TIE Fighter / Portland, OR / Directions

Death Star / Portland, OR / Directions

AT-ST / Portland, OR / Directions

Millenium Falcon / New York, NY / Directions

Princess Leia / Portland, OR / Directions

X-Wing / New York, NY / Directions

Snowspeeder / New York, NY / Directions

Red Leader / Portland, OR / Directions

The Presence of the Force

And on TV!

WSJ Video / GPS Art: Athletic Picassos Produce Digital Drawings

WSJ Video / GPS Art: Athletic Picassos Produce Digital Drawings.

Coverage on Q13FOX in Seattle, WA

Coverage on Q13FOX in Seattle, WA.