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Lightsaber relay to kick off Comic-Con 2012

Pass the lightsaber and help some young Jedis in need. Comic-Con 2012 will start big this year with a "Star Wars"-themed Olympic-style relay race.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Cha/CNET

Calling all Jedis! Grab your lightsabers, lace up your running shoes, and come embark on what's sure to be an epic journey to Comic-Con 2012. Even better, you'll get to use the Force to help some young Padawans in need.

Lucasfilm, Nerdist Industries, Octagon, and Machinima have teamed up to put on an Olympic torch-style relay race called Course of the Force that will help kick off this year's Comic-Con in San Diego and benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

The 136-mile run/walk will begin in Santa Monica, Calif., on July 7. At every quarter-mile marker, participants will hand off the official Course of the Force lightsaber to the next runner until they reach San Diego on July 11, which just happens to be preview night for Comic-Con (the show officially kicks off on July 12).

Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick will follow the race in a lead vehicle every day and broadcast live to the Nerdist YouTube channel. Machinima, a video entertainment network for gamers, will provide coverage of Course of the Force on its video channels as well.

Participants are encouraged to come dressed in costume, but "ancient Jedi Masters carried within backpacks are not required." Runners will also receive a customized Hasbro Star Wars Ultimate FX lightsaber and other goodies. Even if you don't participate, you can still come out and cheer on your fellow Jedis, as there will be Star Wars-themed parties, contests, and live Nerdist shows at the end of each day.

According to the Course of the Force site, stops for the race will be announced soon, but registration for the relay is already open. It costs $500 to enter, and there will be no on-site registration, so must do it in advance online.

May the Force be with you!