Running at night isn't as scary as you'd think
It was three o'clock in the morning in rural northeast Kansas and, watching two steadily moving lights bobbing on the black horizon ...
Photo by David Clifford
It was three o'clock in the morning in rural northeast Kansas and, watching two steadily moving lights bobbing on the black horizon, I wondered, "How many UFO sightings are actually just ultrarunners cutting a path through the darkness?"
The two lights belonged to a couple of weary friends making their way around the five-mile loop of the Nathaniel's Run Ultra on the Prairie Center Trail just outside Olathe, Kansas. Running trails at night is a skill developed primarily through repetition and experience, but you can get a jumpstart by listening to runners who have already spent many a sleepless hour in the dark.
Kansas City Trail Nerds members Ben Holmes and Gary Henry are two such runners. Holmes, also known as "Bad Ben" for his penchant for both microbrews and running, has completed countless ultramarathons across the country and is the father of the Trail Nerds, which is several hundred runners strong and hosts virtually all of the trail races in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. He says there is something special about the Trail Nerds' five-times-a-week night runs. Gary Henry, whose sense of humor seems to grow in proportion to the amount of suffering he's enduring, agrees.