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Staying Safe in the Texas Capital

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SPIbeams light up Austin’s trails.

By Hannah Phillips, Photo courtesy of SPIbelt

Kim Overton

A series of sexual assaults near Lady Bird Lake in September 2017 prompted Austinites to reconsider how late they are willing to run popular hike-and-bike trails. In response to these attacks, the Austin Police Department hosted an educational safety run/walk and started sending night-shift officers to Zilker Park and Lady Bird Lake on foot, bike and mounted patrol beginning daily at 4 a.m. Since, the city has announced plans to install more lights and call boxes around the lake, similar to those on the University of Texas campus, but many locals remain wary of exercising outdoors after dark or before daybreak.

Nite Beams, a product line designed for nighttime fitness enthusiasts, may bring some peace of mind to Austin runners. Nite Beams allow visibility to 1,400 feet (approximately a quarter of a mile) from an athlete’s front, side or back. The goal is not just to reduce the number of attacks on runners, but to prevent pedestrian injuries and cyclist collisions as well. In November 2017, the product was acquired by Austin-based, female-owned fitness-accessory company SPIbelt, which stands for small, personal-item belt.

Entrepreneur Kim Overton started SPIbelt in 2007 after realizing the need for a bounce-free running belt during her regular morning jog.

“I immediately went to a fabric store and made the first SPIbelt at my grandmother’s house,” Overton says.  

A trainer at the time, Overton found her clients loved the belts and demand grew. She was even invited to bring the belts to the Austin Marathon later that year.

The original design featured a small pouch with a tight zipper secured below the waist, while product development during the last 10 years yielded additional accessories catered to specific running needs. Competitive runners can purchase bib attachments for race day, while other accessories let individuals carry medical devices, such as EpiPens or insulin pumps, while they run.

The November acquisition of the Nite Beams running-gear division allowed SPIbelt to add even more new products to its line. The company announced the acquisition at The Running Event 2017, an annual event held at the Austin Convention Center that showcases the latest innovations in athletic apparel, running gear and more. Now marketed as SPIbeams to align with the SPIbelt brand, the line includes both USB-rechargeable and battery-powered headwear, blinking lights, shoelaces, wristbands, gloves and more.

“We are really looking forward to offering our customers products that will help keep them safe while outside at night,” Overton exclaims. “Nighttime outdoor enthusiasts can expect an unparalleled level of personal protection from the new SPIbeam’s brand.”

With hats available in this spring, LED spurs launching in June and armbands and gloves expected this summer, the company looks set to have all your nighttime running needs covered before daylight hours decrease again in the fall.

 

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