Last Saturday night, May 12th, was the first annual Twilight Run ‘N Gun. My last post was about the course, this post will be about how I and my gear performed. As a reminder from last time, I finished 9th of 14 in 2-Gun division, 13th of 22 overall.
Though I didn’t finish well, it was still worth it. I had never actually shot a gun at night that I can remember, I had never run a distance race against someone, and I had never ‘rucked’. Having now done all of them, I have a more thorough understanding of each of them, of all of them, and of myself. I’ll talk about them from the aspects of the guns, my performance shooting them, and of my physical performance.
The guns worked very well. I expect my guns to perform reliably and that’s exactly what I got. The lights held up, the batteries lasted the duration of the match, the cartridges cycled every time I pulled a trigger. Not a lot left to be desired.
My mag pouches are High Speed Gear Tacos, a rifle and double-pistol, both belt-mounted. I love these things, and they performed flawlessly.
My decision to use a backpack to carry my spare ammo and mags was a bad one. Since you had to reload your mags on the clock, that meant either stopping and adding unnecessary time to your run or stuffing mags while you move. Add to that the location of those loose rounds being behind your back, and you can see why I won’t be doing that again. The bag contained a water bladder that I used often during my run. Carrying a water source is something I’m going to do again, probably from a dedicated bladder carrier, but I’ll either carry enough loaded mags to finish the match, or carry loose rounds in a pouch on my chest.
My headlamp worked great. The multiple brightness settings was crucial. The course was delineated with these little glowing LED things that shown bright enough to be seen when the only ambient light was that of the stars overhead, but my lamp’s 405 lumen beam completely washed them out. Thankfully, my lamp has 3 settings, the lowest of which puts out 53 lumens. With the lumans turned down, and the focus let out to a wide beam with no hotspot, the course was bright enough to navigate effectively while not washing out the course markers. I couldn’t have asked for a better light.
The elbow pads were left at home, and right before starting I decided not to run the knee pads either. The knee pads would have been nice on the highwayman stage, but otherwise would have just gotten in my way. Leaving them behind was the way to go.
I wore an old pair of LA Police Gear pants that I’m pretty sure they don’t make anymore. I’ve had them since about 2010 or 2011. They most resemble LAPG’s Urban Ops pants, though mine have an extra pocket on the ankle of each leg. I normally avoid cargo shorts & pants because they are aesthetically atrocious, but this kind of event is literally what they are made for. Plus, people wouldn’t be able to see them as much since it was at night. That night the ambient temp dropped below 70, so wearing pants was the more comfortable option over wearing shorts.
The shirt I wore was a moisture wicking workout shirt. Remember, this is still a 5k run. I don’t know how/why someone would attempt it in long sleeves.
My Salomon XA Pro 3D shoes were just what I expected them to be. They ran like a tennis shoe and gripped like a boot. If you want/need traction but don’t want the weight and ankle support of a full-on boot, these are my recommendation.
First off, carrying a load over a distance at anything faster than an easy walking pace is hard. That’s not a world-changing revelation, but having knowledge of something and actually experiencing it first hand are two completely different things. Now that I’ve done this competition, I would classify it as more of a timed ruck event than a 5k. I’m really glad that I focused on increasing my running stamina for the last couple months, because even in my unprepared state I was significantly better off than if I hadn’t. Next time I’m going to prepare for a ruck more than a standard 5k. In terms of raw run times, I was 8th of 22.
The entire course being over uneven pasture also really hurt my running time. Uneven ground is much harder to cross at speed than a flat sidewalk or paved road. I don’t know if this is something that can be trained around or not.
My lack of nocturnal marksmanship prior to this event really didn’t affect me much. I was still using my normal sighting systems with my normal sight picture. Not much changed. Target identification and acquisition affected me far more. There was a time or two where my eyes had a hard time focusing on the front sight of my pistol, but I’m chalking that up to my contacts. A real world use of these lights would be under different circumstances though, so I’m not going to claim that I’m a master of the night just yet.
Shooting after running didn’t seem to affect me as much as I expected, either. I had a wait time on two the stages and 30 or 45 seconds on the other two stages, meaning that I had plenty of time to get my breathing controlled enough for the size & distance of the targets.
I scored 414.1057 points with a time of 4947.68 seconds (1 hour 22 minutes 22 seconds), putting me in 9th place in my division and 13th place overall.
I initially thought that I did horribly, but now that I’ve gone and dug through the numbers a little more, I’ve changed my mind. I mean, I still placed well below the halfway mark in my division, but I wasn’t as far behind as I thought.
I plotted the scores vs time of each competitor (from practiscore) on a graph, to see if I could get some sort of insight into how I performed. [The 2 outliers are people that I believe dropped out. They ranked 21st and 22nd of 22.]
That didn’t really give me a whole lot, so I broke the data down further.
This following graph shows how I stack up against the rest of the runners in terms of time.
This last graph shows how I compare in terms of points
These graphs show me two things. Number one is that I was pretty close to the middle of a pack of competitors, and a little bit of improvement in either time or points would have done quite a bit to improving my overall position. A little better preparation would have gone a long way. The second thing these graphs show me is that the final ranking seems to be very points-biased. The time graph has a bit of a trend line, but the points graph shows that points were huge. Scoring X% more points would move you up farther than running X% faster, as it sits now.
That being said, running faster and shooting better will always help you. The guy in 1st place had both the shortest time and highest score, and is a total badass. He placed 2nd on the first 3 stages, 1st on the other 2, and has the shortest run time. There’s no question that he earned that #1 spot.
In conclusion, I could have done better. No argument there. What’s changed is that I now realize that I wasn’t as far behind as I initially thought. Now that I’ve seen my shortcomings and how they affect my positioning, I am much more prepared for next time. And oh yeah, you can be very sure I’ll be there next time.