A run in the dark

I took a run in the dark last night. You probably have been doing similar over the winter months but this was different than any other as I decided to run where no street lights were. I chose this as I wanted to use my new head torch that I’d been given at Christmas. I’d not had the chance so I took off en route to Corstorphine Hill. This is an old wooded area on the outskirts of Edinburgh where there’s an old tower, a folly which in the dark adds to the mystery of the place. Edinburgh zoo shares the south face of this hill where zebra and gazelle graze the slopes.

I entered at the zoo end and put my head torch on that I’d rather vainly hid in my back pocket until the street light lights fainted from view.

The torch was bright with a tight fit on my forehead, the band soaking up the light sweat and drizzle. Immediately I was thrown into a different world. The bright light shone and lit up a circular area as far as 10ft in front but left a sharp darkness below my feet as if I was shielding my periphery view. The light followed my eye tracking. But was covered by the mist from my heavy warm breathing condensing in the cold night air. Not only did this cover my field of view on every exhale but the light drizzle was being lit up brightly and coming at me at a horizontal direction that I could only liken to that of heavy snowfall flying toward your windscreen when driving a car. The drizzle disappeared before hitting my face as I couldn’t feel the force I expected from this just like the windscreen wipers clearing the view but you can’t help but flinch and squint.

Losing half your sight and being alone in a wood isn’t for the faint hearted. I purposely didn’t tell my partner what I was planning as I knew he’d tell me it was a daft idea but he has no idea. He’s not got the running bug as I have. He’d also tell me I was stupid as the area has reputation of funny goings on after night fall. This did not deter me only made me run faster!

It is true though that every broken tree stump I’d divert my attention to, every bird I spooked up above made me a little bit more alert. Moving so quickly in low light the eyes can’t pick up features as easily as they can during daylight and so wet mud patches, the odd exposed tree route would be seen last minute. The path ahead looked like a river of black tar until the light lit up the way.

After a while I got used to the feeling and the sounds. On the down and uphills an adjustment of the light to deal with the angle of viewing meant constant thought and attention.

I didn’t meet anyone in the dark, and I’m not sure what I would have done if I had, and how they would have felt as they would probably thinking the same as me. What nutter is out here in the dark!

I started dreaming up odd situations of rabbits and foxes enjoying the time they’d be safe from human interruption for a few hours. Perhaps the zebra escape the zoo for the evening and roam the paths? Maybe the pandas have made their way here in search of China? Who knows. All I know is that I exited the wood unharmed and unscathed even if I did have the music “in the hall of the mountain king” in my head and my pace was fairly speedy!

Next time I think I’ll go for a run in the pentland hills in the dark. A great sensory experience!

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