I was going to do a write up about my recent Cactus Rose 100 DNF but decided to write about something that happened to me during the race…something much more enjoyable (now that I look back because, at the time, it was horrifying).
Prior to the race, I had set up my extra battery to my headlamp in 1 of my 5 drop bags. A few hours before it got dark, I started thinking “…now, where is my battery?” because I knew my headlamp wouldn’t last throughout the night. I don’t know how it could happen, but I couldn’t remember which drop bag I had put it in.
My friend, Orlando, let me borrow his headlamp when he finished. As he gave it to me, he said something like “Make sure it is working before you go back out.” To make a long story short, I didn’t. I figured – how hard could it be? I think deep down inside I was probably thinking “I’ll worry about that when my light goes out?” Not a good idea.
Well, it got dark soon after that, and my headlamp light started flickering (warning me to replace the battery soon. Very soon).
This happened in the middle of 2 aid stations around 10pm. I took out my back up headlamp, but…I couldn’t turn it on. I kept pressing everywhere (because there appeared to be no buttons) but nothing would happen. I wasn’t sure how much time I had until my headlamp totally gave out, but I knew it wasn’t much. The last time this happened was during a race in the summer. After the flickering warning, it went out, but I was with another runner and was able to use her light to switch out the battery pack. This time, I didn’t have this luxury.
Immediately, dread and panic set it. I covered my headlamp with my hand to see just how dark it actually was, and to gauge whether I could see anything in the dark. I was in the middle of the trail, so it was pitch black. I was about 2 miles from the next aid station, and the previous aid station was 2 miles behind me. At that moment, a runner was coming the opposite direction (and towards the aid station I’d just left several miles earlier). She too tried to start my headlamp but had no luck.
My choices were to either run back behind her, and utilize her light when/if my went out before the aid station or take my chances going forward. I really didn’t want to run back when I’d been telling myself it was all about the forward progress, so I decided to run quickly (as quickly as I could considering that I was already at mile 52…so I’m sure it was just a shuffle).
Throughout the race, I’d been encountering runners going past me, with me or the opposite direction. At this point, it was pitch black, and there was no headlamp in sight in the distance indicating a runner was up ahead in either direction.
I shuffled my way as fast as I could muster hoping my light wouldn’t go out. Every couple of minutes my light would flicker, again, reminding me to switch out the battery. This only added to my terror. Yes, I think I panicked and was kinda terrified.
My light went dark about 20 feet from the aid station. Yes, 20 feet!!! I was very lucky. Very lucky, and, most importantly, lesson learned.