So yesterday was Day 4 of Course of the Force, the lightsaber relay from Santa Monica to Comic-Con in San Diego to raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation, and I was super excited to be able to participate in this fantastic experience as it came through San Diego. When they put out a call for local Star Wars fans to get involved, Caitlin and I signed up and went out on Tuesday morning for our afternoon segments. I was joined by all sorts of great fans, some of which are highlighted in my video above. This was my chance for an
Olympic geek dream!
While the relay was originally divided into quarter-mile segments, the organizers asked us in advance if we were willing to do a half mile, and I requested a segment near Torrey Pines State Park or the UCSD campus. See, back when I was a wee lad, my father took me to see the Olympic torch as it came down the beach at Torrey Pines on its way to the 1984 games in Los Angeles, and then many years later, I got to see the Olympic torch biked past the UC San Diego campus as part of the Atlanta torch relay. So to be able to have my own Olympic dream combined with Star Wars would be extremely awesome. And the Course of the Force staff was cool enough to let me live the dream!
Initially I was given a half-mile segment near UCSD, with Caitlin having the half-mile before me – going past her former workplace on campus! But as we rode the shuttle down to our assigned spots, we found that they would let us team up and combine our routes, and even put us in early (which would let me carry the lightsaber at the exact spot I had seen the 1996 Olympic torch). We had a great crew of other fans in our shuttle: Tom and Paul from Australia, who had run another segment in the LA area two days before, James and Quinn in their awesome Mandalorian armor, and a father and son duo who had bought costumes the day before. We were also joined en route by Monica from Nerdist, who came dressed as Gogo from Kill Bill. Since we had to hop in the front of the procession, we stopped by Torrey Pines State Beach to wait for the convoy to catch up to us coming down the main road, which led to some fun in the sun – at the beach where I had seen the 1984 Olympic flame!
Monica ended up being the saber-bearer on the segment before us, and Caitlin eagerly took the lightsaber from her as we ran along the west edge of campus, and she passed the saber to me for my Olympic spot. Watching the gawking pedestrians on the sidewalks and drivers whipping out their cameras was a blast – drivers would initially be cranky at this large slow moving convoy blocking the way, but then would turn astounded as they saw Jabba’s Sail Barge and the relay runners. Caitlin and I had a great time, and played around for the cameraman stuck on the tail of the sail barge. The cops and security on bikes kept us in the safe pocket behind the barge, especially as we crossed through intersections blocked off by motorcycle police. On the final stretch as we were just leaving the campus area, Caitlin’s dad came out to support us, then then around the corner, my wife and my dad cheered us on. We hit a final downhill stretch through a canyon, and then I passed off the saber to the next runner – another Jedi!
— Caitlin (@BrightCuPenny) July 10, 2012
We stepped back on the second shuttle that was trailing the convoy and were whisked back up north to the parking area, and then I ended up spending the rest of the day with my new friends, Paul and Tom, who came all the way from Perth just for Course of the Force and Comic-Con, and we went down to Pacific Beach to catch the final relay leg: a Tusken raider pushing a stroller-turned-into-Anakin’s Podracer! And after a round of shrimp tacos, we got to meet Chris Hardwick before the live show from Crystal Pier!
I may not ever end up in an Olympic torch relay, but hey – I got to combine my Olympic dream with Star Wars, and supporting a really great cause. Can’t beat that!