Last week the writing prompt for Tuesday’s on the Run was to share tips for running nighttime races. I didn’t write up a post in time to participate, but with the Banff Winterstart 5 Miler taking place this weekend I thought it would still be worth a share!
If you’ve never run Winterstart before, the race is a 5 mile out and back course that starts at the Banff Caribou Lodge. The race starts just as it is getting dark out at 7 pm. You run out of town for 1.5 miles, turn and run up Tunnel Mountain, then turn around and run back. The race finishes with a party in the parking garage of the host hotel, complete with draw prizes, food and beverages.
For me the most difficult thing about a night race is figuring what to eat and when. Get your nutrition wrong and it has the potential to really negatively impact your race! Winterstart begins at 7 pm. You’ll want to make sure your meal has digested well so you won’t get to revisit that meal as you run up Tunnel Mountain. Eat a larger breakfast, then a smaller, easy to digest lunch. A light snack around 5 or 5:30 pm will help to fend off a rumbling stomach, then I like to take a gel just before the race start. Avoid heavy foods today and take it easier on the fiber as well. Stay well hydrated over the day and maybe save the beer for your post-race celebrations (or not…maybe this counts for carbo loading??).
It gets pretty dark as soon as you leave the town of Banff. For the last few years I have run with a headlamp which has really helped a lot! Yes, your fellow runners are carrying glow sticks but those don’t do much to help you see where you are going. A headlamp is really nice to have.
Reflective gear is also good to wear! I get nervous running in the dark, whether it is in a race or just out for a run on my own. It never hurts to make yourself as visible as possible to passing cars (or your fellow runner behind you wearing their headlamp).
Also remember to have fun! I’ve seen people dressed head to toe in Christmas lights and a lot of people dress up in costumes.
What tips for running races in the dark do you have to share? Are you running Winterstart this year?