Experience From - Alistair McAlpine , Bryan Erickson , Matt Mahoney , Bob Agazzi ,
In 1991 I completed Western States 100 with a pacer I met for the first time at Forest Hill aid station. It turned out that he'd been a Comanding Officer in Vietnam. As night came on he told me to leave the torch off for as long as possible to make the most of our night vision. We left the lights off for at least an hour and a half longer than I would have. As volunteers came the other way in the dark he'd holler out to (read: command) them to shut down their lights and not ruin our night vision! I'd trained a lot in the dark but was surprised at how long after sunset I could run without lights, without tripping.
Does anyone have any ideas about improving ones night vision?
Being in the army, I have somewhat extensive experience in night operations. From my experience, you just have to become accustomed to the dark and get used to the terrain you will be traversing. One quick flash of light though, can ruin your night vision for about 10 minutes until you get re-accustomed. This was very true after using night vision goggles. Your eyes get used to the illumination in the goggle and your vision is totally screwed up for about 10 minutes. From my own personal experience, I don't know of any way to actually improve this process though...
Full adaptation to night vision takes 20 minutes. I use a smaller (and dimmer) light than most people on the trail at night. Your eyes will adjust to most of the difference in brightness. The advantage is that I have less weight in my hand, and I can easily carry a spare light (both are 2 AA battery size).
In the Navy they use red lights indoors on board ship so as not to disrupt your night adaptation when you step outside (like to go on watch). You could try putting on sunglasses when you come to a brightly lit aid station.
I have found that it helps to wear a cap with a bill that shields your eyes from moon and star light. This will allow your pupils to open wider and collect more light.
Also once you have night vision, if you're trying to see a particular object at night try not looking directly at it. If I remember correctly, this allows you to utilize cone cells that collect more light than the rod cells in the center of your eye.