Jason Romero is relentless. You have to be to pursue a goal as grand as crossing America on foot, especially as a blind runner. Jason’s “Vision Run” is meant to redefine society’s expectation of the visually impaired community. He wants us all to understand that “regardless of our eyesight, we all have unyielding potential.” This fact holds special significance for us. Noxgear is proud to be a gear sponsor for Jason and the Vision Run.
As of this post Jason has already covered over 1,300 miles and is in his 6th state (Kansas). Click the banner below to visit the Vision Run website.
As his eyesight has continued to decrease, Jason has experienced the impact of assumptions about his capability that much of the blind community faces. He wants to change that perception. He tells Runner’s World, “I became a [much] more active member of the blind community and I realized there are these staggering statistics, like a 70 percent unemployment rate for blind people, a 66 percent obesity rate, two times the rate of depression compared to the general population. You can’t tell me that 70 percent of blind people are unemployable and don’t have those skills.” Jason has made no secret of his struggle to adapt to life as a blind man. He has faced depression and now unemployment.
Running has been a big part of Jason coping with the loss of eyesight. He is an incredible runner. Just a few months ago Jason became the first blind person to win an ultra-marathon. He completed the San Jorge 50 mile course in 7 hours and 24 minutes, shattering the previous record by over 1.5 hours – held by a sighted male. If anyone was to be chosen for the Vision Run, with the goal of changing the perception of what the blind community is capable of, it is undeniably Jason. He now holds running World Records at the 50k, 50 mile, 100 mile, 24 hour, 48 hour and 72 hour races. He’s also a three-time Ironman triathlete, the 2015 US Blind Marathon Champion and placed 4th at the International Paralympic World Marathon Championships in 2015.
Safety is top of mind for Jason. In his interview with Runner’s World the day before he started his journey he said, “Here I’m going to be running in foreign areas where people are not going to be accustomed to seeing a person running out in the middle of nowhere, so safety is really the biggest thing that we are concerned about.” He faces particular risk running in the early morning and at night when visibility is crucial. We were happy to supply Jason with a few Tracer360 Visibility Vests for the Vision Run. He is a great person and athlete and we’re proud to know him. As Jason likes to say…onward!
Learn more about Jason and the Vision Run at www.visionrunusa.com.
Donate to support Jason’s run across America here.
Check out his media coverage here and follow his journey via his Facebook page.
Alex is a converted sprinter to a long distance runner. He has received national and regional recognition for his racing in high school, college and beyond. Alex is an energetic, avid runner and we are proud to have him representing Noxgear. He wears his Tracer360 for morning and night visibility on the roads and trails. His dog, Zeke, rocks the LightHound Visibility Vest.
Read more about Alex:
- Review of the Tracer360 & LightHound
- Personal Records (PRs)
Review of the Tracer360 & LightHound
During the Tennessee summer time, training in the day is simply not an option. It is too hot to get a good training effect. From the first time wearing the vest, I actually had a genuine feeling of safety. Headlamps and reflectors are simply not enough when running on winding county back roads at night. Cars simply do not see you until you are right there. With the Tracer360, you are clearly visible to everyone around you and it gives you the awareness that is critical to safety. I can run at night with a relaxed mind knowing that I am seen.
The LightHound is an amazing product as well. I can see Zeke at all times running through the woods at dusk as well as being visible running through the roads. Hunters have always been a serious concern of ours when I take him for a run with me. You simply just don’t know where they are, and with a dog that blends in with the wildlife, you always worry if they will mistake him for something else. With the LightHound, he is easy to spot in the woods and there is no second guessing that he is a dog. It is the first time that I have felt that we are both safe, no matter where we are running.
I would recommend the Tracer360 and the LightHound to any person I meet. From the nocturnal athlete training for their next race, to the occasional walker on a sidewalk, this is the vest you must own. It is light, comfortable, and dependable. Mine has seen rain, sleet, snow, and a couple falls in the trails and it has held up amazingly. The LightHound fits perfectly on Zeke. The base rests well on his shoulders and it stays snug without any restrictions in motion. Being washable is a huge advantage too as we are regularly finding ourselves in the streams, rivers, and mud of the Smoky Mountains. There is no doubt that the vests withstand the test of time. A couple hundred miles down, and a couple thousand more to go!
During his high school career, Alex was one of New Hampshire’s premier sprinters/hurdlers. During his senior year, he was ranked 38th in the nation for the 600 meter dash, 13th in New England for the 300 meter hurdles, and anchored the 4x400 meter relay team that placed 5th in New England. He was also awarded a spot on the New Hampshire 4x400 meter relay team that placed 5th at the USATF Indoor Championships.
He attended Southern New Hampshire University, where as a Penmen, he excelled in Cross Country and gained his love for distance running. By the end of his senior year, he owned 16 of the Top 20 fastest times in program history. After his four year tenure, he was named the Assistant Coach for the Penmen where he was privileged to coach aside his former coach, Jaime Gratton.
As the years progressed and after relocating to the country back roads of Eastern Tennessee with his wife, Alex has advanced to longer distances, mainly the Half Marathon to 50 Mile races. He enjoys racing in the sport of Canicross with his beloved dog, Zeke. As a team, they have won several titles, including the 2015 GoPro Mountain Games 5K Canicross Trail Race in Vail, Co. After a strong year of training, Alex is aiming to have a very productive racing year. He is ecstatic to be part of the Noxgear team and proudly represents both the Tracer360 and LightHound vests.
Personal Records (PR)
50 Mile – 9:51:11
Marathon – 2:52:28
Half Marathon – 1:18:35
10 Mile – 58:31
5 Mile – 26:07
5K – 15:42
Mile – 4:24
6/21/2014 – Smokey Mountain Service Dog 5K, Lenoir City, TN – 1st Place – 15:42, Course Record
5/17/2015 – Race 13.1 Knoxville Half Marathon, Farragut, TN – 1st Place – 1:23:31, Course Record
6/5/2015 – GoPro Mountain Games Rock Dog 5k Trail Race, Vail, CO – 1st Place – 17:18, Course Record
8/22/2015 – Waneysville Main Street Mile, Waynesville, NC – 1st Place – 4:29
10/31/2015 – Race 13.1 Nashville Half Marathon, Nashville, TN – 2nd Place – 1:20:33
In recent years, Running Relays have been taking the country by storm! This year, Noxgear has partnered up with Relay Iowa to help make it not only the longest relay in the US, but one of the most eye catching and fun!
Longest relay in the US you say? Yes! Relay Iowa has teams of 4-12 covering a distance of 339 miles in under 60 hours!! And what we love about this relay is that there are no pre-set legs or strict rules to keep your runners in a certain order! Your team is free to tackle the challenge under your own strategy! Featured in The Runner’s Bucket List – 200 Races to Run Before You Die by Denis Malan, you will have completed a great accomplishment and challenge by taking part in this relay!
Not only will you feel good about running this relay, but you will also be contributing to a great cause! The majority of the proceeds from Relay Iowa go to benefit Restoring Hope International. Check out www.restoringhopeint.org to see how two couples from Iowa are providing care and shelter to South African children orphaned by AIDS. Help Relay Iowa to reach its goal of building more shelters around the world to care for those in need!
Get signed up today!
Race Day: June 5th – June 7th
Regular Registration: Through April 15th - $100 per person
Late Registration: April 16th-June 1st - $125 per person
Check out www.relayia.org for course info and rules! They also can help you find a team if you need one!! And of course, don’t forget your Tracer360!!
This past summer Mike Sullivan stopped by our booth at The Midwest Outdoor Experience. It had been since our high school football days, nearly 15 years earlier that I remember last seeing Mike (Sully). I couldn't forget him, he was one of the largest linemen on our team. A quiet giant that took plenty of hits for me and the team. The man that introduced himself at our booth simply looked to be a different person. He was a tall and lean man who stood with confidence and shook your hand with graceful enthusiasm. I couldn't place him immediately, I just recall thinking at that moment, this man was indistinguishably an Iron Man competitor.
(Mike and Simon - High School Football)
What had happened to the Sully I once remembered?
After exchanging information we started to reconnect and catch up. He came by Noxgear one afternoon and co-founder Tom and I had the honor to listen to him tell his inspiring, life changing story. One where Mike battled through depression and lost 150 pounds, coming out a top notch Iron Man competitor on the other side. Someone who can conquer a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile ride, and 26.2 mile run, back to back in the same day. His story is a good one, and his advice is the best, "Just never give up," he tells people.
I couldn't agree more. All too often we try to complicate the solution, avoiding the simple truth that in sports as in life, perseverance is the only sure way to achieve excellence. After reconnecting with Sully, I've recently conquered my first Marathon in 3:04:52, qualifying for Boston by only 8 seconds. I hit a lot of problems in that race that made me want to quit, but had I given up, I never would have made Boston. I exchanged notes with Sully in the weeks and days leading up to the race. He was never a person to hold back advice or encouragement to a first time Marathoner like myself. I recall watching him run down the home stretch at the Marathon on his way to a PR, but with plenty of breath to encourage his fellow runners and congratulate the runners who had just finished.
Sully, now a Riverside police officer, was recently asked to do an interview with the Dayton Daily News. Understandably he was on the fence for quite some time, and had never really told his story to anyone until now. He went ahead with the interview, and his inspiring story was released yesterday. Mike said that he couldn't have been happier with the overwhelming positive response that he received in just one day.
We invite you to read the Personal Journey of Mike Sullivan
If you've been out in the evening recently and found yourself stuck in the dark, you’re not alone. Fall is here, the days are shorter and it’s time to get visible. Not surprisingly, a 2010 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report cites 69% of pedestrian fatalities occurred at night, with the most dangerous hours between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., that time after work when most runners, walkers, and cyclists take to the roads. On average over a 2 year period, nearly 1 million runners, walkers and cyclists were hit by motorists (2008 NHSTA report). While only 40% of pedestrians make any attempt to be visible in the dark compared to the 70% of cyclists, pedestrians still make up 50% of all accidents involving motorists. There are many choices for high visibility clothing and accessories out there and the science of visual perception can help guide you – like for example:
-Our eyes are most sensitive to the color yellow just before and during dusk – not traffic cone orange
-Once our eyes adapt to the dark, they are most sensitive to the color green
-A red blinking LED is less likely to be seen by our peripheral vision than green or blue
-Florescent Material actually converts invisible UV light into visible light, giving florescent materials that eye-searing glow
-Wearing reflective elements at specific locations on the torso, hands, and feet improve pedestrian conspicuity using a concept called biological motion – but reflectivity only works if there are headlights on you
-Despite being against the law in most states, a majority of motorists still admit to texting, surfing the web, or talking on their phones.
-Regularly looking and checking a phone further impairs a motorist’s night vision. In fact NHTSA studies have shown it to be more dangerous than driving while drunk.
So it’s really not enough to just put on any colored reflective vest and snap on a red blinking LED. So for over two years our engineering team at Noxgear has been guided by this science and focused on creating the most comfortable visibility vest on the market.
Recent advances in everything from Florescence to LEDs and Fiber Optics have allowed Noxgear to leverage the science of visual perception to create the most innovative visibility gear on the market. Here’s the pedigree of solutions incorporated into the Tracer360:
- A special florescent yellow hi viz sports belt that provides 360 degrees of eye-searing yellow that actually glows lime green from invisible UV light at dawn and dusk.
- 360 degrees of 3M reflectivity.
- Specially designed flashing multicolored illumination with long periods of yellow and green, and every color in between.
- 360 degrees of illumination provided by a specially designed soft, flexible, yet rugged fiber optic.
- A single quick clip buckle and highly adjustable design that allows you to wear it atop a jacket or t-shirt. Now you don’t have to compromise your visibility for comfort because it’s a warm evening and you only have a reflective jacket
The Science of Visual Perception
In October of 2010, Newsweek published a great article that highlighted how science can protect runners and cyclists as the days grow shorter. This spawned our research into the science of visual perception at Noxgear and how we could leverage recent advances in science and technology to create the next generation visibility products for runners, walkers and cyclists.
Our eyes are most sensitive to the color yellow just before and during dusk. The daylight adapted (photopic) vision relies heavily on the signals from the color-sensitive cone photoreceptor cells in the human eye. The red and green sensitive cones, required to sense the color yellow, account for 98% of the color sensing cones in our eyes, while the blue sensitive cones account for the remaining 2%. This is why the Tracer360 is equipped with our Hi Viz fluorescent yellow sports belt and our special illumination modes don’t skimp on blasting yellow light at 360° around you.
Once our eyes adapt to the dark, they are most sensitive to the color green. The rod cells of the human eye, are supersensitive to brightness, especially the color green, and provide most of our vision in the dark. So you can bet the Tracer360 illumination modes include periods of green as well.
During dawn and dusk, nothing competes with fluorescence. Florescence isn’t just eye catching because it’s a particularly odd color. There’s some slick photo chemistry at play. Florescence can convert higher energy radiation into lower energy radiation. The traditional fluorescent yellow and orange safety vests absorbs invisible ultra-violet (UV) radiation and readmits it as visible light, causing them to actually appear to glow. Our special high visibility yellow belt includes the latest florescence which not only converts UV radiation but also high energy blue light into a glowing green. This gives the Tracer360 belt another distinct advantage. Our hi viz yellow belt begins to glow green just as the eyes transition from daylight adapted (photopic) vision (most sensitive to yellow) to dark adapted (scotopic) vision (most sensitive to green).
Red isn’t the best color for a clip-on blinking LED. Not only are the cells of your eyes less sensitive to the color red, the color is also best seen only when your eyes are looking directly at something red. This is because the red-sensitive cones of our eyes are almost exclusively in the center 1.5% of the retina – hardly giving you the eye-catching effect you’re hoping for.
So, why are Red blinking LEDs so common in safety products? The first thought tends to be that we associate the color red with a stoplight, stop sign, or break lights. I don’t know about you, but I’d get annoyed and probably a little worried if a motorist came to a stop when they saw me out running or cycling in the dark. The goal is to be seen, not to bring traffic to a halt. Also, unless you’re directly in front of the motorist as in the case of another car’s taillights or the stop light down the road, the chances are low that your red LED will even be noticed by a motorist until you enter into the center of their field of vision. By that time it is almost certainly too late. The ability for the red LED to blink is essential in this situation, as it has been shown to increase visibility.
The likely reason that so many red LEDs are still used today is that for the longest time, they were the most economical and lowest power LED solution. Surprisingly, even as LED technology progressed the safety products remained red, perhaps out of tradition. At Noxgear we’ve combined recent advances in LED technology and special fiber optics to provide 360 degrees of multicolored illumination with only two LEDs. It could easily take hundreds of multicolored LEDs to produce the same effect.
Wear a reflective vest. Today’s 3M reflective technology contains thousands of tiny glass beads or specially engineered optical prisms that reflect light back to the source, regardless of the direction. The reflective elements along the upper torso combined with the highly reflective elements on most of today’s athletic shoes have been shown to improve pedestrian conspicuity along road ways. Our minds can quickly distinguish a human in motion using the concept called biological motion, or biomotion. Being distinguished as a person amid all of the reflective road signs and mailboxes significantly improves the ability for motorist to see and avoid you. The full power of biomotion is intriguing and has gone as far as to show that we can determine mood, gender, and weight by observing only a few key points known to invoke the perception of biomotion. One key takeaway is that more reflectivity is better. That’s why we’ve incorporated 3M reflective elements into the Tracer360’s belt and LED enclosure, providing reflective visibility from all 360 degrees. The obvious limitation to any reflective jacket or reflective safety vest is that it requires you to be in the headlights to be seen.