Bright ideas: how to stay safe when running in the dark

SaintéLyon night run
More than 12,000 runners take part in the 72km SaintéLyon night run. Photograph: Gilles Reboisson
Do you like running around in the dark with lots of other people? Well, I may have just the race for you. It is little known outside France, but one of the oldest ultramarathons in the world takes place in the Rhône department of France.

The SaintéLyon takes in 72km from Saint-Étienne to Lyon, starts at midnight and features more than 12,000 runners, who take part in a variety of races and relays. Part of the Festival of Lights, which draws between three million and four million people to Lyon every year, it covers undulating trail and road and sets off in typically French fashion: lightning fast.

But if you can’t wait until next year – 2015’s event took place on 5 December – or fancy staying closer to home, here are three tips for running and racing at night-time in winter, wherever you are.

1. Use a brilliant head torch

And I mean Blackpool-illuminations brilliant. I used the Petzl Nao, which blasts out more than 500 lumens on to the trail in front of you. Having confidence in your footing means you can make the most of your local trail and avoid landing on your face. I fell over only once during the SaintéLyon weekend, while reading a sign that said: “Attention: descente dangereux.”

2. Wrap up warm

The wee, small hours can get mighty cold. You may be tough, but during the night it doesn’t take long to cool down, particularly if you have to stop. When moving, a pair of shorts may seem like a great idea, but always be prepared for moving slowly. Whether you’re stuck at traffic lights or lost in the woods, you want your muscles to be warm when you kick off again.

3. Be bright and beautiful

You want others to see you, too. Even if you’re just jogging on the road for a short while, dark winter evenings make you more vulnerable to cars. I normally take a smaller head torch to put on the back of my head, and SaintéLyon gave us reflective race bibs to wear. Plenty of jackets come in high-vis or reflective colours these days, and some even have disco lights, so there’s no excuse. Even my hound has reflective bands to wear.

Most importantly, don’t let the early sunsets and dark mornings put you off trail running – it’s a different adventure at night. Get out with some friends or on your favourite routes and practise for the time in the future when you enter a 100-mile race; it’s a skill you can really work on. If you fancy a trip to Lyon next year, start getting used to running downhill in the dark on countryside routes. You’ll have to imagine the surly French men barging past, though.

[Source:- the gurdian]