Destruction test 2

Sandy has been part of Speed of Light since our first call to runners in August 2011. She is a dedicated runner, part of the Bellahouston Road Runners and loves hill running.

Sandy was one of our ‘Run Leaders’ during our first rehearsals in August and October 2011, taking baffled but up-for-it runners in the ‘Echo’ group around Arthur’s Seat, using a photocopied map and a walkie-talkie to communicate with the creative team as they watched from various places on the mountainside.

Here she tells us of her recent experience ‘destruction testing’ one of the Mark II light suits.

“Oh that’s lovely” said an older woman as I ran past her. Running round the south side of Glasgow in a light suit has been an interesting experience. I’ve scared dogs, been beeped by drivers and had men in a van stopping to take a photograph of me as I ran past. I’ve been involved in the Speed of Light project from the start, and really love the concept of combining hill running with visual art to create what I’m sure will be an amazing performance.

When NVA asked me to test the new prototype of the light suit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It’s one thing to run round Arthur’s Seat with lots of other runners in the relative quiet, but I had no idea how people would react to me running round Glasgow looking like a cross between the bionic woman and a Christmas tree. The suit itself is made up of webbing with LEDs down the sides. Although it does by necessity have quite a substantial power pack at the back of the waist, the design of the suit means that it is surprisingly light to run in. As the testing is mainly about the comfort and durability of the suit and not just testing the lights, I’ve done a combination of runs in the dark with the light suit switched on, and daytime runs in the suit with the lights off. Unexpectedly, it has felt less conspicuous somehow to run in the dark with the lights on. Although running in the dark in the suit attracts lots of attention from people, it feels more anonymous. Running in daylight in the suit means you can see how strangely people are looking at you.

The only problem I had with the suit came after a fall in the snow where I somehow broke one of the wires connecting the lights from the knee down. This meant that none of lights on either leg worked from below my knees, meaning that it the dark I literally must have looked like my feet were not touching the ground!

I spent a morning with friends in the Kilpatrick hills running with the light suit on, which is probably the closest to how it will be during the actual performances on Arthur’s Seat. It is amazing how quickly you forget you are actually wearing it.

It’s great to have been part of such an innovative and creative project. I would really encourage people to get involved, either through signing up as runners or by coming along and watching what will be a kind of choreography that hasn’t really been seen before.