Community News and videos ULTRA TRAIL: BE READY FOR THE BIG DAY


An ultra like the UTMB represents the equivalent of running four marathons in a row… and in the mountains. Successfully finishing such a long and demanding effort requires anywhere from six months to two years of training. So, why not start right away to ensure that you are more than ready for the big day? To help you in this endeavor, here are a few great tips from Team Petzl athlete, Clare Gallagher.

July 24 2019


18 hours in the dark

At the end of August in Chamonix, the sun sets around 20:30 (8:30pm) and rises around seven in the morning, so runners in the UTMB know what it means to compete at night. Most competitors spend an average time of forty hours and two nights out on the course in their effort to circumnavigate the entire Mont-Blanc Range, which equals almost 18 total hours of putting one foot in front of the other in the dark. Anyone who loves trail running, especially ultras, has spent plenty of time running at night, whether training before or after work. Yet, moving around on foot at night is nothing natural. While lighting may be critical, there is much more to it. Most runners are not accustomed to the physical and mental demands of running non-stop both day and night. At night, in spite of the fact that the body and mind are begging for sleep, runners ask their bodies to continue pushing hard. 

The secret: training at night

While the right tools play an important role, Clare Gallagher also spends a lot of time training at night. Regular training is one thing, practicing at night is different. One of the secrets for successfully completing an ultra: spend adequate time running at night, at dawn, and at sunset during any weekly training cycle. This will help you to get used to the feeling, to stay loose, and to avoid injury when the ground in front of you proves not so easy to see. “Efficient nighttime training means running on trails, not on pavement,” Clare explains. She also insists that mood plays an important role, “You can’t do anything about nightfall during a race. Best stay positive in spite of the dark; you will always run better when you readily accept the situation.” Clare also offers a few tricks of the trade for learning how to run in the dark. “Instead of always running at night, I try to go out on a few long runs in the mountains starting at 3 or 4 in the morning. This allows me to train in the dark and then enjoy a beautiful sunrise to kick off my day.” Now it’s your turn.

Clare Gallagher, trail runner on Team Petzl

While working in Thailand in 2014, Clare practically stumbled by chance into long-distance running when she decided to enter a local race. Just two years later she took first place at the Leadville 100, one of the most iconic ultras in the United States. The first time Clare participated in the CCC in Chamonix in 2017, she won. It goes without saying that this 26-year-old trail runner from Boulder, Colorado, plans to continue running for a long time to come, at least as long as her day job as an environmental activist working to protect wilderness and natural spaces lets her.
For Clare, running a successful ultra boils down to the following key ingredients: training, practice, caffeine, and a headlamp. Thanks to REACTIVE LIGHTING technology, her headlamp provides the right level of brightness and optimizes battery life by analyzing the amount of natural light available. This allows Clare to benefit from her headlamp’s maximum lighting power when she needs it, and to save battery power at dusk or when looking down at the ground. When it comes to caffeine, she prefers the sweet taste of an ice-cold Coca-Cola.

Additional reading: How to use your Bluetooth headlamp

Pairing your headlamp with Bluetooth by using the MyPetzl Light mobile application makes it quick and easy to check remaining battery life and also allows you to upload lighting profiles before heading out for a run. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on the functionalities of your Bluetooth headlamp.

How to customize your REACTIK+ and NAO+ headlamp

MyPetzl Light: The Petzl mobile app customizes lighting performance of the REACTIK+ and NAO+ headlamps. The MyPetzl Light mobile app allows the user to customize the performance of the REACTIK+ and NAO+ headlamps from a smart phone or tablet: access remaining burn time, activate one of the predefined activity profiles, customize lighting, and adjust brightness. (Option available on the REACTIK+ and NAO+. Free download from the App Store or Google Play.)

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