I’ve run the Hood to Coast Relay almost a dozen times now, and I’m always surprised that there aren’t more accidents in the relay’s history. The safety record is certainly not spotless, (as proved this year with the incident at Exchange 24,) but considering how many years the relay has been around and all the tired runners out on the course over a span of two very long days, (not to mention all those vehicles,) it’s really sort of amazing.
One can only imagine the biggest reason that there are rarely any incidents is because of the strict safety rules everyone is expected to follow. From 6:00pm to 7:00am, everyone must wear reflective vests, blinking lights on the front and back, and all must carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp. The vest must actually be worn until 9am, and headphones worn inside the ears are not allowed. Headphones outside of the ears were allowed this year, but it was imperative that everyone be able to hear the sounds around them at all times. Our team had two really awesome options this year to keep us all safe and follow these rules.
The RoadNoise reflective vest was a great option to help follow both the reflective vest and the headphone rule. We reviewed one version in November of 2016 (read review here) and the design just keeps improving more and more. There is a very roomy pocket in the front to hold the ever-enlarging cell phone comfortably. There are speakers inside the vest that sit in the shoulders, which is a great location to hear your music without hindering your ability to hear everything around you as well. There is a bungee in the back which helps allow for a snug but comfortable fit and a detachable rear pocket, which is also reflective. Even better, it comes with a Bluetooth amplifier and a volume controller which makes operating your music really easy.
A great alternative to a headlamp or flashlight would be the RunLites wearable rechargeable lights. I reviewed their winter gloves back in February (see my review here) and loved them then, so I was stoked to have some lightweight fingerless gloves to light the way for Hood To Coast since so much of the journey is in the dark. The gloves come in a variety of patterns and sizes and our runners simply adored these gloves for the relay. Many of the runners on our team this year don’t do a lot of running in the dark, and headlamps can often be clunky and cumbersome. Carrying a flashlight is also a pain when you just want to go and not worry about holding onto something. I think some people initially though wearing gloves with lights in them would be heavy, but the LED units inside the gloves are very lightweight. They are also very bright, and having them at arm level really does do a great job of lighting the path right in front of you and also not blinding anyone around you. They hold a charge for a long time too. I plugged them in the day before the relay and they lasted the whole weekend and probably would keep going for much longer if I needed them to. The RunLites gloves will for sure be in our vans for Hood To Coast every year and I wish more people knew about them. I don’t know that I will ever go back to using a headlamp again.
If you are planning to do any running in the dark or if you are one of those runners who needs music while you do so, consider the RunLites gloves and the RoadNoise vest. These make safety easy to accomplish.