Well well well. I’m a stubborn Mule at times, and last week saw me yet again forced to accept defeat at the hands of wiser, more experienced minds. I’d been invited out on a Monday night run, which tickled my fancy – since I’m always up for an adventure, and I already had a drawer full of ‘perfectly good’ head torches at home. The night arrived, and I appeared with my bargain basement torch, bought for camping, great for telling one end of the tent from the other. Once the rest of the group had seen what I intended to run with, Stu kindly suggested that he pop into the house and grab a spare lamp for me to borrow. “NO!” I insisted, “this light has done me proud so far, and has been down caves with me, I’ll be fine”, and I meant it.
We arrived at our destination, excited at the prospect of trail running around the local Agden reservoir, via the surrounding woodland trails. Out comes Stu’s spare lamp, with a repeated offer for me to borrow it. Still I say NO. Now beginning to feel that I’ve upset Stuart, and that I might be asking for trouble.
Off we go – instantly I’m humiliated by the dull glow of my torch. The cluster of LEDs I have seems the equivalent of a lit match, while all around me appear to have a car headlamp attached to their face. While their beam extends into the distance – illuminating everything in their path, I’m struggling to tell whether mine’s even on! Still with the group, I’m relying on the strength of Stu’s light to help me along, though I’m running in his shadow, and as such still reacting at short notice to a lot of sudden obstacles. After a good spell, and Stu’s compliment of “you run very well for someone with no light”, he switches on the afterburner and tears ahead through the woods, leaving me in almost pitch darkness.
Immediately I stack it over a tree root that appears out of nowhere. I fall, landing on my knees with hands outreached, and practically bounce back to my feet, mostly through a combination of Adrenalin and hope(that the moment went unnoticed). I now face the challenge of catching him, so that I can once again see what’s happening, but with the certain knowledge that any and every thing between me and him poses the same threat. I’d been lucky not to land face first on a tree branch, barbed wire or fence post, so catching Stu became something of a priority. Following the silhouette of his feet against the circle of light he had ahead of him, I kept gaining while frantically memorising the objects he passed 4 seconds ahead of me, while avoiding those currently under foot. Taxing to say the least.
When I eventually caught him, he seemed surprised to hear of my fall, and we set off together to complete the run.
Did he leave me behind to prove a point? Either way, message received and understood. I returned to store and immediately purchased a shiny new LED LENSER H7 Head Lamp, and on Friday I enthusiastically accepted the invitation to do another night run. Quietly confident I switched on my new light and was instantly greeted with about 25 meters of trail. I could see everything, and not just ahead of me, my peripheral vision was crystal clear as well. The flood of light was impressive, but I only had the thing on about half power. I shifted the in-built dimmer switch across to full strength, and adjusted the focus from flood – to spot. BOOM, I could see for what looked like forever, but was actually a respectable 140 meters. The crazy thing is, both lamps used 3xAAA batteries, but with such different results.
Throughout the run that evening, I tinkered with the settings, adjusting from dim to full power, flood to spot and back again, settling on whatever suited the section we were on. I had no problem fending for myself, be it at the rear – or out in front this time. We even descended Wyming Brook at quite a rate, which would certainly have resulted in an accident using Monday’s torch.
I had such a fun time, and never once felt as if the dark was slowing me down. I can’t wait to do it again, just as soon as this Humble Pie has settled.
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