My daughter and I were among about 350 people who ran the cold, dark trails of Essex Park in Rochester on Saturday night. We ran in the Night Crawler 10K with temperatures in the 20s.

When I signed up for this earlier this month, daytime highs were in the 60s. It was apparently too much to hope that weather would continue. Thankfully Friday was the windy night. Saturday was a calm, cool night to run the paved trails and wooded hiking trails of the park. I already had one chilly run this fall during the Spirit Run in Owatonna. So that left two new aspects for me, running along trails and doing it at night.

Running down grassy hills with uneven footing in the dark isn't the brightest thing I have ever done. Because it was my first nighttime run, I borrowed a chest light from runner LaKlenza Skala of Owatonna, and thanks to that I didn't fracture anything or fall. Event organizers had bonfires going to keep us warm before and after the run.

I wore several layers of light clothing to stay warm yet not work up too big of a sweat. That plan worked pretty well. It was the first time I have run in an event with Cynthia. The plan was to stay together, but I lost her on the first downhill run. Apparently she was braver than I was about running downhill in the dark. The view of everyone running in the dark while wearing lights was like a sea of fireflies. It was a cool scene as we weaved through the park grounds.

The complimentary cup of water that I grabbed as I started the second loop had a layer of ice on top. It was a sparse group going on the second lap and at times I could see no other runners. It was a calming, isolating experience to run in that setting with only my light and a few glow sticks on the ground to lead the way.

I have frequently said that the end of a run is my favorite part of running. I might amend that to say that the free adult beverages after running might be my favorite part. I will do a trail run again, but maybe when it's a bit warmer next time.

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