Guest post by Justin Arnold
Any reasonably normal person would consider the idea of running 1,000 miles in a year dressed as an Imperial Stormtrooper fairly idiotic.
Hello, my name is Justin Arnold and, apparently, I’m fairly idiotic, because that was the challenge I set myself last year, and loved it so much I’m doing it all over again this year.
Having enjoyed long distance running for twenty years, and taken part in organised races for the past ten years I believed I knew how to run. That all changed the day I put on a real Stormtrooper costume, made by the same studio that designed and built the original ones for the films in the 70s and 80s. Such costumes were designed for actors to wander about in a studio – not to run miles and miles around cities all over the UK.
Why do such a crazy thing?
I should perhaps briefly explain why I’m doing all this. As a teacher and a parent I am of course desperately concerned about bullying (including cyberbullying) and child abuse. I believe children need to be protected, but also educated and supported, as do those who are best placed to help them. That’s why I support the UK charity Kidscape, the first charity set up to help tackle the problems of bullying and child sexual abuse.
Once I had decided to run for Kidscape I felt that the best way to draw attention to the cause was to do the runs in costume. Step forward my 9 year old son Jack, a mad Star Wars fan (like me), who recommended I run as either Princess Leia or a Stormtrooper. Since I didn’t fancy waxing and the world isn’t ready to see me in a bikini (I’m a 42 year old bloke) I opted for the Stormtrooper.
Putting the costume to the test
After my first outing in the costume, running only a distance of 3km across the Humber Bridge and back I couldn’t walk for three days. The costume is so restrictive that it completely changed the way I run, forcing me to almost bounce on my toes rather than push with my thighs.
As well as being incredibly restrictive, and very noisy, the costume makes it impossible to use the toilet, and the helmet makes it impossible to drink. Oh, and I can hardly see anything or hear anything either. Apart from all that, it’s an ideal running costume.
Throughout the year I somehow overcame these challenges, and completed a whole list of long distance races. To make sure I was able to run in the costume I did all of my training in the costume too, which meant that over the course of the year the costume and I clattered a staggering 1,000 miles in total. Residents living and working in Hull got used to seeing the odd sight of a Stormtrooper regularly running the streets of an evening!
Shattered, but restored
At the end of the year though the costume was in a rather shabby state, with various fractures, splits and breakages. At one point while I was running my groin fell off. That’s not something any bloke should have to admit. I did get quite handy with repairs, but ultimately it met its match (the suit, not my groin).
However, the incredibly kind and supportive people over at OriginalStormtrooper.com, the online store for Shepperton Studios, offered to donate a brand new costume for this year, worth over £600.
And so 2015 once again sees me pounding the streets as a white armoured representative of the Empire, proving that sometimes, even the bad guys can take the time to pick up a vulnerable child and help keep them safe from harm.
Donation Page: http://www.stormrunning.com/make-a-donation
JustGiving Page: http://www.stormrunning.com/make-a-donation