A long time ago in a theater not that far away… a young Coach Cary fell in love with a new movie named Star Wars. Yes, the original. Yes, in the theater. And yes, that does mean I am that old. I, along with millions of others, became instant fans. Disney, which recently purchased the Star Wars universe, just announced it will be adding the Star Wars Half Marathon to their collection of themed races. This sure-to-be-an-instant-sellout race had me waxing nostalgic. As I reflected on all the movie’s characters, I began to realize how similar they are to the many people I’ve lined up against over the years. So, in honor of making the Kessel Run in under twelve parsecs, I give you the Star Wars characters of the Running and Racing Universe.
The young, naïve, up-and-coming talent whom you can't help but root for. He kills 5Ks like he's shooting womp rats back home in his T-16. He races as if he is guided by some other force. He's new to this whole racing thing and needs a wise old veteran coach to keep him on the right path.
This young woman shows up comfortable and confident in her duties. She knows what she must do to reach her goals. When the gun goes off, she doesn't shy away from the conflict. She jumps right into the fray and shows the boys how it’s done. She's not there to race the boys; she's there to beat them.
The wily vet who's been around the block a time or two. This ain't his first rodeo. He's always quick with a smile and a joke but will gun you down if you threaten him. When the race is on the line, he's as fast as a Falcon as he jumps to lightspeed to pull away from whomever is on his tail.
The wily veteran's buddy who's always at Han’s side. You can tell he's just waiting for a pump-and-run race to show off his potential. He's a massive dude that has more body hair that anyone you know. His motto: "Let the wookiee win" (which you'd be hard pressed to understand since he just mumbles and grunts a lot).
Everyone knows that “plastic fantastic” runner decked out in the most outlandish garb (which he probably purchased the day before) to show off in the race. He’s trained for almost an entire week(!) to get ready. Now he’s so tight and sore, he’s almost robotic. This runner never shuts up—and spends half the race complaining about everything.
How many gizmos and gadgets can a person possibly use during a single race? This runner’s got more beeps and buzzes going on than a NASA command center at liftoff. He is a veritable rolling database of physiological info.
Your arch nemesis with whom you are locked in an epic struggle. It always seems as if the end of the race is a neck-and-neck battle between the two of you. You don’t understand why you can't shake him! Heck, he's been huffing and puffing and breathing so loud for miles. I mean, come on. He's old enough to be your father.
Obi Wan Kenobi
Every race has the wise old coach. He's always doling out advice and trying to help the young guys learn how to do things the right way. He has a very calming voice you can almost hear in your head as the finish line gets closer.
There's always a rock star age grouper who shocks you with his pace. He looks so tight and tired and old—until it's go time. Then he flies out of the gates. He measures his energies well, and after crossing the finish line, he’ll pass on weird, wise words like, "Do or do not. There is no try."
There is always that group that shows up wearing the same racing uniform. You know you'll have to fight all of them to win your age group. It'll be a battle, but you your laser focus will prevail over their weak-minded pursuits.
The ornery curmudgeon who always looks sour. He wants things to go poorly for everyone else. If you're not with him, you're against him.
Jar Jar Binks
This goofball comes stumbling up to the line late. You’re not even sure how he made it to the race. he crosses the line with his tongue hanging out, he a stuttering mess. He showed up only to get the free beer afterwards.
Every race has a herd of kids all hopped up, full of energy, and ready to race. They may be cute, but they do some damage to that squad of Stormtroopers. (It's almost like the little guys are your allies…)
The fitness superstar who does it all. She's got her strategy mapped out like she's a senator. Cardio kickboxing first, road race next, then yoga to unwind afterwards. Her schedule is tight, but once the race begins, she's in it to win it.
The unknown out-of-towner who swoops in to steal the race. It's like he's a mercenary who's only interested in taking scalps. This guy races with ruthless abandon and will take out anyone in his way.
Jaba the Hutt
You know, that annoyed guy in his car, waiting for the cop to signal so he can drive across the intersection—finally. He’s frustrated with all the runners blocking his route. He had a late night and one too many frog legs. All he wants to do is crash on the couch.
Check out the FLEET FEET Race Calendar to find a race and see how many of these caricatures you recognize!
Now, go, young Jedi, and race with honor. Remember, the force will be with you always.
Good Luck and Happy Racing!
Tim Cary is FLEET FEET's Assistant Training Manager, coach of the FLEET FEET-sponsored Runnababez Elite team, and manager of the FLEET FEET Racing Team. Over his 20 years of coaching, Tim has coached athletes to three national team championships, five national individual championships, two national records, and numerous All-American and All-State honors. Click here to receive Tim's weekly article via email.