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The days are getting shorter, which means any outdoor training done before or after work will be in some degree of darkness. We asked ultra endurance athlete and avid night runner Chris Bergland for his tips on staying safe.
Stay visible. “The first thing that comes to mind is [Badwater race director] Chris Kostman’s line: ‘Light yourself up like a Christmas tree,’” says Bergland. “Wear tons of reflective gear and blinking lights.” Reflective strips on your arms and legs are more effective than on your torso because drivers are more likely to see the light in motion.
Light the way. You need to not only be seen, but also be able to see the ground in front of you to avoid potholes, branches, wire fences and slippery leaves. Bring along a headlamp and/or flashlight to avoid tripping.
Use common sense. Leave the iPod at home and bring a cell phone. “Carry a whole safety kit with your ID, phone, some money and a credit card,” Bergland says. He carries everything in the Amphipod Airflow Lite waistpack ($24, Amphipod.com), which stays in place without bouncing.
Run with a buddy. There’s safety in numbers at night—not only to increase your visibility to cars, but also to deter potential attackers.
Look at it as an adventure. “There’s something that’s so romantic and mysterious about running at night,” Bergland says. “If you’re feeling bored with your daily routine, night running is a really good way to add a new dimension.”
Light Up the Night
This gear will keep you safe on the roads from dusk till dawn.
Energizer Micro Sport Headlight
This lightweight LED headlight gives off bright light (high and low settings) and has a red safety flasher that attaches to the back of the band. It’ll also come in handy for transition setup at early-morning races.
Road ID Reflective band
The neon yellow elastic and reflective material of this 1.5-inch-wide band keeps you visible from 360 degrees.
$10 for pair, Roadid.com
An alternative to lugging a flashlight, they have an adjustable strap and wide beams of light.
Nathan Sports Wrist Runner Lite
Made of moisture-wicking fabric, a double-fold pocket securely holds cash and credit cards, with a hidden pocket to carry a key.
Race on the Dark Side
Put your night running skills to the test at one of these winter nighttime running races.
Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon (Dec. 2, 2012, $175-$185, Stripatnight.com)
The Strip is shut down as 40,000 runners race past the city’s most iconic landmarks and live bands at every mile during the world’s largest nighttime running race.
Planet Adventure Winter Quarter/Half/Full Trail Marathon (Jan. 26, 2013, $35-85 Planetadventurerace.com)
The 6.55-mile loop through Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis is on mostly single-track (a headlamp or flashlight is required), with chili and hot chocolate waiting for you at the finish.
Ragnar Del Sol (Feb. 22-23, 2013, $120 per runner, Ragnarrelay.com)
On this 200-mile, 12-person relay from Wickenburg to Tempe in Arizona, you’ll race around the clock against the desert backdrop of Saguaro cacti and red rock cliffs.
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