Trail runners marathon ... in the dark 

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Hundreds of runners will brave the cold and dark Saturday as they compete in a nighttime marathon through Eagle Creek Park.

Planet Adventure's inaugural Adventure Winter Quarter/Half/Full Trail Marathon will feature a 6.5-mile course through the Westside park's woods. The 500 participants are required to use headlamps or flashlights as they tackle the sold-out event.

The combination of the peaceful evening setting and the potentially harsh elements adds to the race appeal, said local trail runner Terry Fletcher.

"It'll be a festive experience for most of us," said Fletcher, who also runs the website "Trail running is already quite a bit different than running on the road and running the trails at night (is even more so). The pace will be slower, depending on how much light you're using to guide your way.

"... We've seen a gradual increase in the number of trail runners (in Central Indiana). People want to try something new, and once they hit the trails, they're usually hooked. People are less concerned about their times or mile splits than they would be on the road. It's about being in nature ... it's like being a kid again."

Although temperatures are expected to dip into the mid-20s Saturday night, Fletcher said most runners would thrive in the conditions.

"People dress in layers," Fletcher said, "and most people will even lose their jacket after the first two or three miles."

Although Saturday's event is sold-out, the public is encouraged to volunteer or cheer on the participants. Races will begin shortly after 6 p.m. Both Fletcher and Planet Adventure's James Nichols are convinced that once people experience this type of trail running, they'll be hooked.

"Planet Adventure is excited to bring this unique nighttime event to the Indianapolis area," Nichols said. "This is the fourth in a series of fun and challenging long-distance trail running events Planet Adventure is proud to host."

Planet Adventure's next scheduled epic trail run is the 50-mile ultramarathon and relay race at Winona Lake on April 14. Registration is currently open here.

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