Course of the Force 2013: Team Hondo races to riches for Make-A-Wish!

On Monday morning, Team Hondo took to the streets of Oceanside and Carlsbad, along the north coast of San Diego County, for their segments of the Course of the Force lightsaber relay. Raising nearly $2,200 for Make-A-Wish over the past few weeks, putting us in the top three of all Course of the Force fundraising teams, Team Hondo was ready to run our segments in the lightsaber relay that had started in the Bay Area and was headed to Comic-Con in downtown San Diego. Here is our epic saga!

While I had been fundraising with Dani and Lindsay for Team Hondo for the past few months, I didn’t actually get to meet them until the Oceanside Course of the Force conival on Sunday – and it turned out that we’re all practically neighbors in the same part of San Diego.

The girls stayed up late Sunday night finishing Lindsay’s Ewok costume, and had to report in on Monday morning at 6:45 am. I was in a later batch, and didn’t have to check in until 7:45 am, but with no traffic coming up the coast, I ended up there at 7:15 and got to meet up with them in our costumes. Lindsay and Dani had been assigned back to back segments near the start of the day’s route in Oceanside, and decided to combine their segments and run a full half mile together.

Course of the Force 2013 - Team Hondo

With the relay starting at the Oceanside Pier with Madison from Make-A-Wish passing the saber to an AT-AT driver from the 501st Legion, Team Hondo was ready only a few blocks away to receive the lightsaber, and they took off, and I was lucky enough to catch the handoff on film (see the video at the top)! After that, I caught my shuttle to take the second pod of relay participants, ranging from Ewoks to Mandalorians to even an Angry Bird, and some very sleepy twins in a stroller, and my friend Cecil, and we zipped down to Carlsbad to wait for the Course of the Force caravan to catch up to us as it finished up with the first pack through Oceanside. On the way, the Course of the Force staff got us pumped up with some cheers and songs – it was like being on the bus to camp! We shared our favorite Star Wars moments with each other and geeked out to a reporter participating, and even saw a pack of dolphins cruising in the ocean.

Course of the Force 2013 - James hits the course.My segment was along the Coast Highway in Carlsbad, and I was let off the shuttle to await my turn. I got the handoff and got a nice downhill run. The sun had finally started to come out from the morning gray, and I had a blast waving the saber around, trying to get thumbs-up from the passing cars, and even did a little skip or two. Having learned from last year the dangers of trying to shoot video while running with a lightsaber, I only managed to get this one self-shot on my smartphone. The security bikes kept me safe from the passing traffic, and soon enough my quarter mile was up, and I began to slow-mo pantomime getting ready to pass off the lightsaber like an Olympic relay team runner to the next guy. Then I hopped on the shuttle at the back of the caravan to take us back to the staging area.

On the shuttle back, the next runner hopped on, and he asked if I had raced last year – Nicholas had recognized my slow motion handoff as I had used it to pass him the lightsaber in 2012 in La Jolla. What are the chances that we would both return to race in Course of the Force AND be assigned to back-to-back segments again! Never tell me the odds! Eventually we finished up our pod of runners, and rode back to the Oceanside Pier and bid our farewells.

I'm on a barge! Later in the day, I made my way down to Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, where the day’s endpoint was, and snuck aboard the sail barge. I mean I don’t know how that happened at all. Hondo made me do it. Now he’s wanted by Jabba.

Today, Course of the Force wrapped up with the lightsaber running in the late afternoon from Pacific Beach to downtown San Diego and Comic-Con. With my friend Jeff, I managed to meet up with one of Team Hondo’s rivals in the Make-A-Wish fundraising, The HTown Jedi from Houston, who were the top fundraising team! Hondo salutes the Jedi in their mission to raise money for the Make-A-Wish kids!

We got to see the relay get started with Jackson, wearing a General Kenobi costume and racing with his dad. We then jetted downtown and scoped out the Course of the Force party, where the lightsaber would reach its endpoint – back with R2-D2. Not sure why Artoo couldn’t just carry the lightsaber himself the whole way, since he managed to get to every day’s start and end point ;) I even shmoozed my way into meeting Chris Hardwick. Apparently, bets were placed on whether I could unlock that achievement or not.

My photos:
Day 6: Oceanside Conival
Day 7: Oceanside to Pacific Beach (Team Hondo runs!)
Day 8: Pacific Beach to Downtown San Diego (and finish line party)

Also check out this Flickr album by Chuck of the HTown Jedi for more photos of Day 8 fun with the relay participants!

Big thanks to everyone, named and anonymous, who helped support Team Hondo through donating to the StayClassy page for me or for Dani and Linds. As a team, we raised $2,197, and it is because of generous friends, family, and Star Wars fans. If you are still interested, we are still accepting donations through the end of the month! Also thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about our fundraising – I got some donations from some blog readers and others I don’t know personally, and for that I thank you and whoever let you know about it – whether it be Dunc here on ClubJade, or Tricia on Fangirlblog or elsewhere.

Along with the official Course of the Force Day 7 recap in pictures, check out the official Day 7 recap video below, where you’ll see more of the Oceanside to Carlsbad route, along with lots of shots of my Team Hondo teammates, Lindsay and Dani, and if you don’t blink, you’ll also see me in costume.

Team Hondo will return!

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