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Night Running Fever: The Global Rise of Night-time Marathons and Races

stockholm night time running race image

Once the sun sets, many of us exchange our trainers for slippers, winding down for the day. But for a growing number of running enthusiasts worldwide, dusk signals the start of an exhilarating journey – the thrill of night-time marathons and races.

Embracing the Night Run

You might wonder, what’s making nocturnal races resonate with today’s runners? One factor is the magic of running under a starlit sky, surrounded by an electrifying atmosphere that day races rarely offer. For others, it’s the practicality; escaping the scorching sun and stifling heat of daytime marathons makes for a cooler, more comfortable run.

As we dive into the intriguing world of night running, let’s explore five races globally that have runners lacing up their trainers after sunset:

  1. The Midnight Sun Marathon (Norway) – There’s something uniquely enchanting about running a marathon where the sun doesn’t set – literally! Held in Tromsø, this race offers participants stunning views of the Norwegian fjords and the magical spectacle of the midnight sun.
  2. Javelina Jundred Night Run (USA) – This 100-mile trail run in Arizona’s scorching heat might be one of the toughest, but the camaraderie, the festive atmosphere, and the mesmerizing desert landscape under the moonlight make it a runner’s favorite.
  3. Energizer Night Race (Various Locations) – This global series of races adds a fun, electric twist to night running with participants illuminating the route with their Energizer headlamps.
  4. Osaka Yodo River Night Marathon (Japan) – Experience the blend of tradition and modernity in this marathon, as runners follow a scenic riverside path lit by thousands of lanterns in bustling Osaka.
  5. Petzl Night Trail Wales (UK) – A more recent addition to the night-time running scene, this race challenges runners with its undulating trail paths amidst the dark, dense Welsh woodlands.
night time running in the sand

Tips for Night Race Novices

Venturing into the world of night races? Keep these three tips in mind:

  1. Night-Specific Training: Get comfortable running in low-light conditions by including a few nighttime runs in your training schedule.
  2. Light Your Way: Invest in a good-quality headlamp to guide your path. Opt for one with strong lumens and a comfortable fit.
  3. Prioritize Safety: Stay on marked trails, run with a buddy if possible, and inform someone about your running route and estimated finish time.

As we wrap up, it’s clear that night-time races are making their mark, capturing the imaginations of running enthusiasts worldwide. From the thrilling under-the-stars atmosphere to the unique challenges these races present, it’s no wonder that more and more runners are choosing to chase their personal bests under the moonlight.

As experienced night runner and coach, Michael Simmons, puts it: “Running a night race is like discovering a new side to running. The quiet, the serenity, the fresh perspective – it’s not just about the run, it’s about becoming one with the night. Embrace the dark, and you’ll find a whole new light in your running journey.”

A Brief Glimpse into the History of Night Races

While it might seem like a modern phenomenon, night racing has historical roots. Ancient Greek runners often trained at night, using torches to light their way. More recently, the growing popularity of ultra marathons, many of which extend into the night, has led to an increased interest in night running.

Diving Deeper into Night Races

Let’s take a closer look at the allure of two standout night races:

The Midnight Sun Marathon: This unique marathon takes advantage of Norway’s “midnight sun” phenomenon, where the sun doesn’t set for over a month during the summer. It’s a race that truly embodies the spirit of night races – embracing the unusual, taking on the unexpected, and turning the tables on traditional running norms.

The Energizer Night Race: The Energizer Night Race series stands out for its electrifying, festival-like atmosphere. In cities around the world, from Buenos Aires to Johannesburg, the sight of thousands of runners illuminating the racecourse with their headlamps has become an eagerly anticipated spectacle, combining the thrill of running with the joy of shared experiences.

In these races, and others around the globe, runners are discovering the power and beauty of running at night – a time traditionally reserved for rest, now repurposed for resilience and recreation.

night time running on a pavement

Night Races – The Future of Running?

With the undeniable rise in popularity of night races, it’s worth asking – could this be the future of running? While day races will undoubtedly remain popular, the unique allure of night races – the challenge, the atmosphere, the novelty – is making them an increasingly prominent part of the running calendar.

Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner, a casual jogger, or someone looking to embark on their running journey, night races offer a whole new world of possibilities. After all, the night belongs to those who dare to run under its starlit canopy. As the saying goes, “when the sun goes down, the stars come out.”

Whether you’re a seasoned runner seeking a new challenge or a newbie intrigued by the allure of a night race, one thing’s certain – running under the starlit sky offers a uniquely enchanting experience that will leave you eager for more. So why not grab your headlamp, lace up those trainers, and join the growing tribe of night runners? The night is young, and the race is on!

Andy Barr
the authorAndy Barr
Editorial Lead
Andy was late arriving into the world of fitness, running and training. He did not really take up regular gym going until he was in his late 30's. He lost over 7 stone in weight since starting and completed an olympic length triathlon in June 2018. He enjoys playing football, boxing and outdoor running.

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