(Night Running)Part of an article by Vincent Delebarre. From the Petzl website.
Turning the light off
Without a good headlamp, we advance less surely, but the sense of touch is always a skill to develop. Sometimes I have fun when I train by turning off my magic lamp and letting my feet do the rest. You’d think: Watch out for a sprained ankle! But no, your foot is your foot. Its abilities are huge, and you have to develop them. Trust it to do its thing. It has no desire to wring its own neck (your ankle…). There’s one simple rule, with or without a headlamp (don’t do the latter too often…), is to relax your ankle. Often, too much muscle tightness can cause a fatal twist. In fact, this can also be worked on during the day, and then transferred to nighttime runs.
On a trail at night, we can also play cat and mouse. Tactics come into play: How do I advance without being seen? I remember how last year, heading from Chapieux to the Seigne Pass, my running companion at the time and I turned off our headlamps. The two race leaders were about five minutes ahead. Really, this is not important and thinking about it is a good way to keep busy and make the time pass. After all, this is not what will make them slow down or speed up or change the race results. But it does save batteries! But since I had the chance to only drain one of them.
Well, eventually I had to turn on my headlamp, and frankly, it was great to see! I also remember an earlier moment in the same race. I was descending from Champel, between the Vosaz Pass and Contamines, hurrying to meet up with another companion. I don’t know what kind of device he had, but he took advantage of my lighting to step into my stride. Hey! Stealing my light, I said to myself (but not to him). I was actually putting him in the shade (in the real sense of the word), and so I was able to get ahead.
Having a great piece of equipment on your head truly means having peace of mind. And it has to last. Range and being waterproof are important. That’s why I particularly love the MYOBELT XP. The connector system lets me easily change batteries at an aid station without removing the headlamp from my head – exactly what I need. It’s a little heavier, but definitely my first choice. The battery pack is perfect for getting through a long stretch of the night (like between Chapieux and Courmayeur) with a strong and regulated light.
Whether we are afraid of the night or not, whether we’re sure-footed or not, whether we’re cleverer than the others or not, light quality remains a factor in the success of your race. Not only to maximize speed, but also to save the energy you might have to spend focusing on the traps of the nocturnal terrain.
So, whether you’re a night runner or not, I’ll see you on August 24 for this festival in Italy, Switzerland and France. With 3500 revelers expected, there is a promise of a beautiful festival of dancing lights.
Vincent Delebarre won the Mont-Blanc Ultra-trail in 2004, and was on the podium in 2005 (second) and in 2006 (3rd). He also won the Diagonale des fous on La Reunion island, in 2006.
The race’s rules precise that every competitor must have a backup light, in case his running headlamp fails. The compact and lightweight emergency headlamp e+LITE is perfect for that.