There’s still a little part in each of us that still believes that once you turn the lights out, there might actually be a monster under the bed and that when there’s rustling in a bush, it’s probably a bear. At Reebok Ragnar Relays, this fear just helps you run faster. One of your legs will typically be between the hours of 9:00 pm and 4:00 am, meaning you’ll be running through the night. Sure, your first instinct might be to hide under your covers until the sun rises with a sense of safety, but the night run tends to be the best part of your race.

Here’s how to embrace your fear, follow the light (of your headlamp) and prepare both mentally and physically for the Ragnar night run.

One: Stock Up on Safety Gear
Make sure you’ll be seen on your in-the-dark runs. Light up the night with the required van safety bundle of 6 safety vests, 2 head lights and 2 tail lights and the optional, but equally awesome glow sticks, Christmas lights, LED belt buckles or shirts and pretty much anything else you can find that glows. Not only does this ensure you’re visible to cars and other runners (and possibly satellites), it also makes you look extremely festive. Grab a Nathan Zephyr Fire handheld flashlight and Nebula Fire headlamp to light your way.
Safety Gear at Ragnar Relay
Two: Practice Makes Perfect
So, 1:00 am isn’t your usual running time? Well, it probably doesn’t need to be unless you’re Ragnaring every weekend (not actually possible). But, there are easier ways to practice running in the dark than having your alarm go off at a time when other people are coming home from the bars. After sunset, head out around your neighborhood. This will give you the chance to figure out how to run with a headlight without feeling like an off-balanced unicorn or how to make your bright yellow vest look stylish.

Three: Bring a Friend
Whether it’s during your practice night run or during your Ragnar leg, bring along a friend (or an enemy you can out-run incase there is actually a monster in the bushes). With anything in life, you’re stronger in numbers and when you’re lost in conversation, you’ll forget about your fear of the dark. Plus, there’s nothing like a friend by you telling you “you can do it” or “I will make fun of you forever and ever if you don’t do this” to really get you moving.
Running with friends in the dark at Ragnar
Four: Bring Your Phone, but Leave the Headphones
If you’re still a little nervous but are ready to conquer your night run solo, it’s nice to have the reassurance that your van is only a call away. So grab a Tube Waistband or stick your phone in your Nathan hydration pack to keep it with you while you’re out on your run. However, for the full experience of the night run, ditch your headphones and listen to, well, nothing. (Until your teammates cheer for you, of course.)

Five: Have Fun with It
Sure, at first when you think of jumping out of a van at 1:00 am and running anywhere from 2 to 13ish miles through the night, your insides might turn to Jello. But, after you take the first few steps, realize that the rustling in the bushes is just wind and fall into a normal pace, the night run might be your favorite part of the event. You get a little bit of peace and quiet, get to soak in the view of a billion stars and brag about it for the rest of your life.
Lighting up the night at Ragnar
Read the 10 Stages of a Ragnar Night Leg to prepare even more to conquer your night leg.


  • I’m terrified of the dark. I was very nervous to run my first time in the dark but it actually wasn’t too bad. I ran the Bourbon Chase last fall and my night leg ran past three cemeteries! It was a little creepy but it definitely made me run faster!

    • Same here Wendy! I was runner 8 though so no cemeteries for me just highway! I’m anxious about the trail at night still though ?

      • Next year run Alafia Trail in Florida. Temps were great but what was creepy was hearing the gators croak as you ran through their areas at night. Creepy, scary and cool all at the same time.

  • Man, the absolute best part of the entire event for me was my leg through the Stygian blackness in the witching hour of the lonesome Skagit Valley on a crisp, calm, and clear night. Super, super cool, and not scary at all; just one of those atmospheric times and places whose sentimental value ever after is apparent in real time, and possibly my favorite running experience of any sort all time.

  • Last year was my first time doing Ragnar and I have to admit I would get excited, nervous and scared all rolled into one when I would think about doing the night run. The only was I can describe it was “peaceful”. Once I was out there and realized the course was well marked and that I wasn’t going to get lost – I lost myself in the run. I absolutely LOVED it. Doing the WI to Chicago Ragnar again this year.

  • The night run during the 2017 Ragnar Del Sol was awesome! To get out of the heat and run in cool, clear weather was peaceful and therapeutic. Definitely wasn’t nervous or scared to run at night. The trail was marked pretty good and felt safe. Just relax, stay positive and run! Can’t wait to run another Ragnar!!!

  • Did two night runs doing the Northwoods-Wi trail Ragnar last year and I absolutely loved it! What an amazing experience spending alone time with God out in the woods in the middle of the night. Awesome!

  • I love the Ragnar night runs – but let’s be clear: it can be very dangerous. Some courses are on relatively busy traffic-wise (even for 2AM) rural roads with blind corners and non-existent shoulders. Thus the need for lights and reflective gear! Nevertheless, the rush of running in the pitch dark on a lonely country road, chasing the bobbing light of a runner ahead of you is pretty cool! I love it.

  • The night runs are exhilarating, and can be a little intimidating to first timers. A little bit of preparation goes a long way.
    Always double check your route from your tent to the starting line, Ragnar staff will not block off hazards.
    Also, be sure to bring your own medical supplies, there are not necessarily medical technicians at the large exchanges, and the volunteers may not know how to contact anyone.

    • Definitely intimidating for me the first time but RAGNAR staff does an amazing job with having markers where needed so you don’t lose your way. Also, talk to your teammates after their night runs and see how they did. Communication is key in knowing how to prepare.

  • The night runs are exhilarating, and can be a little intimidating to first timers. A little bit of preparation goes a long way:
    Two things to always remember:
    1) Always double check your route to the starting line, Ragnar staff will not block off hazards.
    2) Also, be sure to bring your own medical supplies, there are not necessarily medical technicians at the large exchanges, and the volunteers may not know how to contact anyone.

  • Running during the night is way cool – you see bobbing lights like sparkling jewels from runners spread out before you over long distance, and behind you, the warm glow of more lights that you know will be treading over the same ground you just covered! The excitement and thrill pushes you to run faster, as the typical daytime sensory experience is gone, replaced with the dark and mysterious unknown of putting one foot ahead of the other and trusting that there won’t be a surprise curb rising up to take you down!

  • I ran the everglades at night (the Key West Ragnar) and it was one of my all time favorite runs. Like floating across the moon.

  • I worry about running over bad terrain in low visibility. I’m a fast trail runner, and hoping over boulders, but without good visibility, it seems like an easy way to twist an ankle.

  • I just finished running the Alafia Trail run in Florida last weekend. My night run consisted of the Green Loop which was the easiest of the three. At mile 4 I caught a root and face planted but managed with no scrapes or bruises. Several teammates face planted during the daytime runs. The key at night is having a good light source, having it aimed appropriately to light a greater area and to focus on the few feet ahead of you. It’s challenging at first but what an amazing experience once you’ve done it. Alafia Trail was challenging and the red and yellow loops would have been crazy at night but what an awesome time. You’ve got to try it and when you do just ask questions, be prepared, and just have fun. Do what works best for you.

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