I have always loved running at night. Especially in smaller races where you spend time totally alone in the dark, often miles from anywhere. You feel like you are the only person for hundreds of miles. (Then you see a headlamp off in the woods or coming up behind.) Even in large races like the Cruel Jewel, by the second night runners are spread out over 50 miles of the course so there are still times when no one is around.
For most ultrarunners, myself included, your pace at night slows considerably compared to my daylight pace. My first 100 was the Pinhoti 100 in 2008, the first year of the race. It was also my first "real" experience with night running. I had done a few early morning training runs at Oak Mountain State Park here in Birmingham, starting before daylight. I also did a night run at the park starting in the late afternoon so I could experience running "Into the Night." That would make a good book title! I didn't know it was against the rules to use the trails at Alabama State Parks at night, even with a backcountry pass. The park rangers were not happy with me!!
During that first 100, the Pinhoti, I was amazed, and a bit concerned, that my pace at night was so much slower than my day pace. I actually think part of it was being so tired by dark that I walking lots of miles I should of been running. Back then, I only used a headlamp. My second 100 was the Leadville Trail 100. I decided to carry a small Fenix LED flashlight. I used it all night and realized immediately the shortcomings of a headlamp alone. With the flashlight, objects on the ground had "definition." I could see shadows from rocks and roots. You could tell if that rock was 1/2 inch above the ground or 4 inches. Night running immediately became a little easier. However, sometime after leaving Twin Lakes, inbound, at mile 62, I lost my flashlight. This was the first year Half Moon Aid Station had to be moved to what is now Half Pipe at mile 71. However, the actual aid station was located where the "crew aid area" is now located at about mile 73. There was no Mt Elbert Mini AS back then. Running down the gravel road near Half Pipe, I almost fell twice. I stepped in potholes in the road that were totally invisible without my flashlight. I had called Marye Jo earlier and asked her to bring a backup flashlight to the aid station. With the flashlight I could see again! Below is the type of Fenix light I always carry but mine are a lot older. 200 Lumins max!
Ever since, I have always started every 100s (or any other race I might need light before the finish) with a small flashlight in my pack. As a safety precaution I also start with an extra set of batteries. But there has always been a problem with handheld lights. I like to run with trekking poles in any hilly race or run. You can't use trekking poles and carry a flashlight. Well, at least I can't. That also means I can't use hand held water bottles. That one was easy to solve. I always purchase hydration vests with front pockets of bottles. But the light issue has always been a problem. Several years ago I tried wearing a regular headlamp on my waste. Trouble was, the light bounced up and down as I ran. I tried moving it up higher but it kept slipping down. Tightening helped a little but that was very uncomfortable. Last year for the Pinhoti I tried making my own waist belt light. Someone had left a cheap "Walmart type" headlamp at a race. I attached a stiff cardboard backing using silver duct tap. It looked strange but but worked great! for about 2 hours. The headlamp only had one setting, Full Power, about 300 lumens. For that 2 hours I was able to maintain the same pace at night as I had all day. I had never been able to do that before. Then the batteries died. I changed them and got almost two more hours. I ditched the light because I didn't have enough batteries to keep it going and went back to my flashlight.
I also tried a new headlamp for Pinhoti. It was a rechargeable light. I had a small battery pack I attached to my hydration pack and the headlamp would probably have made it all night If I had. I didn't! But after that I started looking at rechargeable light but nothing looked very impressive. Then came the 2019 Blood Rock 100 & 50 Mile Endurance Trail Race. The race has a 44 hour cutoff for the 100 and 22 hours for the 50. It's tough! The 100 has over 25,000 ft of gain on brutally difficult trails. The 50 is half that.
While monitoring the time system I realized a 747 must have mistaken our "landing lights" leading to the finish arch for a runway. This amazing light was coming through the woods right at the finish arch. It turns out to be a runner wearing a string of 5 brilliant lights. She was wearing "KogallaRA Adventure Lights." I started researching these lights and they sound amazing. I ordered the 800 Lumen RA Single Pack with BatPak-3.
Here is the description:
The Single Pack 3 comes with everything you need to attach RA to your gear so you can light up the night hands-free.
RA Adventure Light - 800 lumens lights a wide area and lets you see all the technical parts of the trail. Makes running and hiking at night much easier and safer.
It's going to take a little work to figure out the best way to mount the light. I am going try it out Feb 1st in Texas!
I'll let you know how it worked.
Here are a few photos I borrowed from the Kogalla website