I first started needing a head torch when training for Sydney Trailwalker in 2007. I wasn't yet 'into' running at that stage and thought that I'd make do with a small, light weight LED head torch that fed off disposable batteries. My first impressions of using a head torch at night were mixed. I wasn't totally comfortable running at night on the streets, let alone on any fire trail or single trail. My eyes and brain took a while adjusting to running towards a small circle of light in front of me. I also noticed when running with a head torch at night that even though I thought I was going fast, in reality I had really halved my speed (clearly evident when I upgraded to a GPS watch).
Before I brought my own head torch I got the opportunity to swap and compare different head torches amongst my Trailwalker team mates and I found good and bad thing about all of them. As my running improved and I became more serious I upgraded my head torch to a more prominent brand of disposable battery powered head torch that had a slightly more powerful LED (70 lumens). I noticed the improvement, but when doing Australia's TNF100 my new head torch paled in comparison to the AYUP's that were out on the trail. The beam of light thrown out by the AYUP's just swamped my insignificant head torch, so much that I was able to turn mine off and run in me competitors extra light. At the end of the race I had made up my mind that I wanted a powerful head torch like the AYUP's. At the time I was finding it difficult to justify the price of the AYUP. The more research I did the more I found that the AYUP was the superior head torch. In the end I ended up making the purchase and am so glad that I did. I was able to light up not just a small circle of trail in front of me, but the entire bush in front of me. When running in the local streets I have cars pull over to let me pass thinking I am another vehicle. For races I now don't have to buy a new set of disposable batteries just in case the ones I have been using might be running low, because now I just recharge the AYUP battery pack before the race.
My first AYUP got a pretty good workout in the the 3 years I was using it, but after near daily use it started playing up. As it was still withing the 5 year warranty period I contacted AYUP and they were honest with me regarding the problem headset and the 2 batteries I had. The options were to replace the head set, or upgrade to the new Head Torch Kit - HT13. I'd known about the new HT13 for a few months, mainly through Marcus Warner (ultra168.com) who was raving about it. Marcus was saying stuff like, "its brighter than than the previous AYUP model". I was thinking, "surely not". So with recommendations like Marcus' I just had to go for the upgrade. I got to use my new Cherry Red AYUP HT13 in the week leading up to my next race, Surf Coast Century. I was pleased to discover that during those lead up runs that the new headset really was noticeably brighter. The new harness, which houses the battery and head set, contours better to my head, even with my ponytail.
|Just before the start of Surf Coast Century|
Using the AYUP for the first time in a race situation at Surf Coast Century was superb. The race starts as a mob start about half an hour before first light. Just about everyone had a head torch of sorts and standing amongst them with mine still turned off the sand and people around me were covered in a patchwork of light. As the count down to the race started I turned my AYUP on and the patchwork of light disappeared and in front of me was a flood of light from my own head torch. As we ran down the beach in the dark I was able to see clearly what was immediately in front of me as well as what was ahead which allowed me to pick my line well in advance. Running amongst all those other head torches no one else's light interfered with mine.