Long December nights means ‘Night Runs’! – running Port Alberni trails by headlamp.

Not TOO foggy that night at least - a bit of mist in my headlamp beam.

[by Dave] After working a 12 hour shift we met on the road to do a night trail run.  Only Jackie has issues understanding the difference between ‘Anderson’ and ’12th’ so while I was waiting for her on the agreed road,  Jackie was on another road. She figured it out and eventually we met up and ran the trails through the dark.  It was a cold and foggy night and the headlamps reflected off the fog between the lamp and the ground. Other barriers were Salal leaves which reflected light and the reduced depth perception so the root and rock height were harder to judge.  We ran a familiar route and it took much longer with the added focussing on the terrain.

[by Jackie] Well I never thought that Dave (Mr. Safety and Security) would go on a night run without his cell phone. We were supposed to run towards one another’s houses via 13th Ave (aka Anderson) at an appointed time, so we would meet along the way. But, oops, I somehow turned on 12th. And Dave didn’t have his cell with him. Well, eventually we found one another.

Anyway, night-time trail runs! What good ultra training! For those who don’t know, an ultramarathon is any race that is over marathon distance (42 km). So common ultra race distances are 50k, 50 mile, 100k, and 100 mile. Some are even longer. The ones that I have done so far are multi-day ultras – 6-day races with daily distances ranging from about 15k to 52 k.

So once you get up to daily distances of over 50 k, you start to have a good chance of running in the dark – either starting or finishing in the dark. So you’ve gotta go by headlamp. If you have ever tried running trails in the dark, you will know it is quite a different thing. The gravelly trails are not so bad – the grey gravel picks up the headlamp beam pretty well. But the dark forest paths are another thing. Dark paths don’t reflect the headlamp beam much at all. And, as Dave said, if there is vegetation, that really shines in the light, so it is hard to see what is under it – ankle twisters like rocks or sticks or roots.

You gotta wonder what the dogs think of all of this!

On top, all the fog that we have been having makes it very hard with a headlamp. Kind of like driving in the fog with your high-beams on, all you see is the fog. The fog wasn’t too bad the night Dave and I were out. But a few nights before, I was out there on my own, and the fog was so thick that I got a bit freaked out there. I was really glad that I was on trails that I knew well, because even on the wide logging roads I couldn’t see the turnoffs for the fog!

And this time of year, with only 9 or so hours of usable daylight, it can be hard to find time for anyone on a rigid work schedule. That day, Dave was working 7am to 7pm. So his only option, if to run at all, was in the dark. So I’m glad we took advantage of it – about an hour and a half in total, including our little detours as I got lost on the city streets. At least we made it through the bush parts OK!

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