Review – GoMotion Sternum Light
Many years ago when I was focused on becoming a professional road cyclist I was hit and run down by a car. Although not crippled the spinal injury gave me problems that required medical treatment and various operations. The final operation sorted out the trapped nerves BUT unfortunately I was allergic to the antibiotics, subsequently I gradually lost my hearing and my balance is seriously affected.
One day I could ride a bike the next day I couldn’t; end of my cycling hopes and no more cycling – for over 20 years! So I switched to hiking which progressed to hill and mountain running, which progressed to racing.
At the time I lived in Yorkshire, UK, an area with a very strong tradition for fell running so, although I started to compete I always struggled on the single track/tricky bits and the downhills as my balance difficulties caused me problems. I was even worse where my peripheral vision was restricted, narrow stretches between trees, tunnels, gorges, snow whiteouts where sky and ground merged and worst of all NIGHTIME.
My balance problem means I require a visual horizon and as my hearing became worse so did my balance and unfortunately wearing a head torch made this even worse. 10 years ago, I decided to leave the UK and move to Andalucia. The UK climate was getting me down, so with new sporting goals I found a home in Andalucia where beautiful weather, numerous mountain tracks and quiet roads saw me training and ‘learning’ to ride a bike again. With determination and extra concentration I started to mountain bike and then road bike, I raced again, this time duathlon, and I began to win my age category.
I progressed to endurance events (ultra running and mtb) including a 126km off road duathlon, I did ok, won my category but the final 3 hours were in the dark and I really struggled, where I should have been able to ride I couldn’t balance, I ended up running using the bike for support and moonlight to see as the head torch was making things worse. Since then I have avoided any night time events and on the rare occasions I have been caught out I have had to hold the headtorch low down/hooked over a waist belt in order to make any progress.
Although I have this problem I know that quite a few other runners have balance issues when wearing head torches and apparently it is caused by fatigue of the optic nerve creating an imbalance in the inner ear.
Recently I had noticed adverts in the American TrailRunner magazine for a company called GOMOTIONGEAR. Their slogan, ‘A New way to See in the Dark’ caught my eye so I had a look at their website, www.gomotiongear.com and was pleased to see a number of ‘why didn’t I think of that’ products which seemed to address the problems I had tried to solve by holding a head torch low down or hooked round a belt.
I contacted the company and ordered a 3 watt Sternum Light Kit.
I have now used the Sternum light on a few test runs and I can honestly say it has been the perfect solution for me.
The 3 watt light attaches via Velcro straps to your rucksack shoulder straps, in effect becoming a second chest strap with quick release snaps. The external battery pack, which takes 3 AA batteries, (included with the unit) can be carried in a side pocket and includes built-in flashing red LED lights.
The lamp has 3 brightness settings, the beam can be adjusted for width and on full power the batteries will last around 3.5 hours using standard alkaline batteries and almost double using lithium batteries. They will last over 20hrs on the lower setting and believe me, the low setting is pretty bright and the high setting is incredible.
With the beam set to wide and on full power I was able to run along forest tracks on a pitch dark night at near race pace. The lamp remained stable and comfortable, (it can be pivoted in its housing to get it just right) and the huge tunnel of light covers an area so wide that you can look around without any problems, whereas with a head torch there seems to be a momentary delay as you re focus ahead after looking off to one side. With the beam coming from below your line of sight there wasn’t the dazzling effect which I get when looking through a head torch beam and there wasn’t any light coming up from the top of the unit apart from a very feint glow where the light switch and beam intensity buttons are.
For many years I have avoided multi stage races or races like the UTMB where night time running is unavoidable and it is partly the reason why I don’t include a night stage in the Al Andalus Ultra Trail (www.alandalus-ut.com) but with the GoMotion sternum light I think night running is something I need no longer fear.
They definitely are ‘A New way to See in the Dark’.
Team Axarsport, Spain.
NB. The lights are produced in 1 watt or 3 watt Sternum or Waist versions as well as in a vest form. They are not yet distributed in Europe but if you are interested just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I intend to have them available for my training camps and in the site ‘shop’.