Running through the night is a very different experience to taking on an early morning race. Not only do you have to contend with the navigation in the dark, but also the increasing tiredness and desire to sleep.
So with the sole idea of finding out more about what exactly that was like I decided to enter The Green Man Midnight Express – a 44 mile loop of Bristol following the Community Forest Path (in reverse). Like I had anything better to do on a Friday night anyway.
The thing is the race is local to me, I already knew the route fairly well and I wouldn’t have far to clamber home in the morning. But what else did I learn from racing at night?
- Fields that look like they are empty probably aren’t. Who knows who or what is hiding in the darkness waiting to chase or even eat you. There is nothing creepier than seeing a herd of eyes coming towards you fast out of the darksome night (unless you’re in a dogging spot). Scream if you like but that might spook them all the more. Remember you’re not in a cheap horror movie. Best option? Keep running.
- Despite running all night staying awake is fine until you actually tell yourself that you’re not that tired. That’s when you will in fact notice you really are and somebody is trying to pull your eyelids down. You will at times see things that aren’t really there, just ignore them unless they bite you. They’re probably not real. Best option? Keep running.
- People you run past who happen to be out and about in the early hours look at you like you are some kind of lunatic, they may even tell you so. Some will be walking a dog, some on their way to or from work and some could just be shouty drunks. They could of course be correct and it might all be a bit nutty, but best to ignore them. Best option? Keep running.
- Seeing the sun come back up in the morning is not a euphoric moment that fuels you with a direct happiness to be alive. This is hippy bullshit. Forget what you’ve read anywhere else (except here). It’ll get light and you’ll barely notice it because you’re too busy trying not to trip over tree roots and fall into a ditch. When the sun comes up the likelihood is you won’t even know what day it is, but you will know you still have to run some more. Best option? Keep running.
- Finishing is amazing. Even better still is a hot mug of coffee and a sausage sandwich. Best option? Stop running and relax.