With the winter solstice just a few weeks away, days are getting shorter and runners are being forced to sometimes "hit the streets" in near or total darkness to log their miles. Most dress for the part, donning reflective vests, headlamps, flashing lights, and other high-visibility gear.
Beth Gallagher is not most runners.
When Gallagher, a local 27-year-old training for her first half-marathon, heads out for her evening runs, she's clad in black from head to toe—with not a stitch of reflective trim to be found. She forgoes lights as well.
It's all part of her fight against what she calls Big Visibility.
"I don't believe in any of that stuff," said Gallagher after one recent nighttime run that took her through poorly lit residential streets and along a heavily traveled thoroughfare. "It's a load of bull, sold to us by magazines and so-called experts."
"Who profits from all of this reflective material being sold? The chemical companies. Who profits from sales of headlamps and lights and stuff? The gear companies."
"Follow the money," she said.
Her fellow road users say they applaud Gallagher's approach.
"I didn't see her until the very last minute," recalled Alex Forrest, who was driving home from work around 7 p.m. when she spotted Gallagher jogging across an intersection. "But when I did see her, I gave her a thumbs up as I jerked the wheel to avoid hitting her. Good for her for doing her own thing."
Howard Rogerson, who was biking to an appointment when he nearly collided with Gallagher, had a similar reaction.
"So many runners just want to call attention to themselves," he said, "with blinking lights and these crazy neon colors and stuff."
"I actually thought (Gallagher) looked great. Black is such a classic, stylish color."
"I tried telling her so, after our near-miss," he said, "but she didn't hear me."
"I guess her music was turned up too loud."
Gallagher said she's looking forward to her race, and to many more miles of nighttime running dressed in black. With, she noted, one small exception.
"My shoelaces are white," she said, annoyed. "I have black ones on my Christmas list."