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Lights make night runs safe

West Linn runner's invention of Knuckle Lights makes night and early morning
by: VERN UYETAKE Dan Hopkins of West Linn takes his year-old product, Knuckle Lights, out for a run.  The lights strap to your hands, weigh only ounces and are perfect night or early morning training sessions. Below, Knuckle Lights come in five colors and provide an extra-wide beam for even and steady light.

For many runners, the only time they have to hit the road is in the wee hours before work, before the children get up, or in the evenings. The difficult part of running during these off hours is that it is dark - particularly in the winter months.

But West Linn's Dan Hopkins has a new product to help solve this problem: Knuckle Lights.

Knuckle Lights are two lightweight flashlights to strap to the front of your hands while you run.

'Until now, runners have had only a few easily available options for lighting their path during the dark: headlamps, chest lights or regular flashlights,'Hopkins, Knuckle Lights owner, president and chief operating officer, said. 'But each option has limitations. Headlamps have been the most popular, but many runners do not like the look or feel of wearing a headlamp. Chest lamps are expensive and typically must be attached to a backpack or other straps. Flashlights can be awkward to carry and can imbalance the runner.'

Hopkins discovered the demand for a product like Knuckle Lights in 2010 when he was training for his second half marathon. He and his wife had a six-month-old baby, and the only time he could run was early in the morning before the sun rose.

'I tried carrying a flashlight but didn't like have something in my hands while running,' Hopkins said. He found the headlamp hurt his head.

'I went on several runs in the dark without any light. I nearly fell about four times.'

The No. 1 question and concern that people have about Knuckle Lights, he said, is that the light bounces around as the runner moves his or her arms while running.

'We purposely designed the light to be extra wide flood beams, so the light shines in all directions and creates nice, even and steady light that illuminates the entire area in front of the runner,' Hopkins said. 'The lights are very powerful too at 45 lumens each, so they give off a lot more light than most other options.'

Knuckle Lights are being well accepted into the gear-particular running community. Hopkins is shipping Knuckle Lights to runners all over the country, and the reviews on running blogs are full of positive feedback.

For Hopkins, the most rewarding story about his product was about a trauma surgeon stationed in Afghanistan. The surgeon ran in the early morning in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan where there is nothing but dirt for miles.

'In the pitch dark, the surgeon fell into a ditch twice,' wrote Julie K., M.D., chief of otolaryngology head and neck surgery at Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan. 'The head of nursing got the surgeon some Knuckle Lights, and he brags about them all the time. Very cool, great idea. Nicely done.'

In the future, Hopkins' company, based out of his West Linn home, plans to develop additional styles of Knuckle Lights, with different options.

'We've had people tell us that they used Knuckle Lights for bike riding, walking their dog and directing concerts,' Hopkins said.

Knuckle Lights will appear in the June issue of 'Shape' magazine.

For more information about Knuckle Lights, or to place an order, visit www.knucklelights.com. The lights cost $39.99 for a set of two and come in five colors. Domestic shipping is free.