Q: can I wear headphones/iPod during the run?
A: To ensure everyone’s safety and maximum enjoyment of Vancouver’s setting and the course route, we ask that headphone use is not permitted during the SeaWheeze race. We promise you won’t want to miss anything that’s happening, anyways…keep those ears open!
I wish I had known about this before I paid my $128 because I probably wouldn't have signed up. Music is a huge part of my cardio routine. From what I understand it's not uncommon but I don't get the issue on a closed course. My husband is running in the Surf City Marathon this weekend, a 20,000-person marathon and they have no such restriction. The Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon posted that headphone use is discouraged but it wasn't banned. I can certainly see turning the music off at the beginning of the race where the start is very chaotic but once everyone has settled into a pace and people are more spread out, who cares? I looked up the rules to the Vancouver BMO marathon and iPods were banned there, too. It must be a Vancouver/insurance thing.
I found an interesting New York Times article from 2007 discussing the banning of iPods in races:
"USA Track & Field, the national governing body for running, this year banned the use of headphones and portable audio players like iPods at its official races. The new rule was created to ensure safety and to prevent runners from having a competitive edge....
Some events strongly discouraged the use of audio players in the past, but the track and field federation’s new rule mandated an outright ban so that runners would be more aware of their surroundings and be able to clearly hear race announcements or warnings from other runners.
Jill Geer, spokeswoman for USA Track & Field, said the ban was “basically an insurance issue,” because rates rise substantially if headphones are allowed. Each sanctioned race receives liability insurance from USA Track & Field, and it would be up to each race director to enforce the ban. If the ban were ignored, the races would be liable in the event of an accident caused by someone using headphones, Geer said."
The comments to the article were interesting:
- I've run many races and have seen fellow runners carrying flags, running backwards, wearing costumes, pushing strollers, running on the sidewalk, stopping to relieve themselves, bending over to tie shoes, and, sadly, dropping dead--and listening to music is against the rules?
- The people who were outright dangerous were those who insisted on stopping to walk in the middle of the road, or, even worse, two and three people across (chatting, without headphones). I'm not one of these purists who thinks that walking during a marathon makes you unworthy, but blocking the middle of the road is a serious hazard, and from my experience, much more harmful than zoning out to an 80s mix. Those who can't pull over and walk in single file should be DQ'd, not the iPod'ers.
- I have run the New York City Marathon and the Dublin (Ireland) marathon and although I never use headphones I think those who want to should be allowed. If the events are properly organised there should be no safety risk. As far as psychological advantage goes I think that if you start vetting people for psychological advantages you would eventually eliminate all those except runners dressed up as Superman or people in a chicken outfit who had no intention of winning and so had no psychological advantage over the rest of us. Competitive runners are backbone of the marathon.
- This is an excellent strategy for reducing the size and number of marathons, which I suspect is the real reason for it. There's a reason why I -- and every other G.I. who ever served -- sang cadences on long runs. The lyrics and rhythm distract you from the self-doubt that plagues all but the most serious and dedicated runners. As for notions of "shared experience" and "community of fellow runners," I gather those promoting that particular fantasy have never heard of the "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner." Good story. Perhaps they'll read it. As a "shared experience." In their book clubs.
- By the time you've gotten to race day, you've probably been running for a while, training, day after day. You've developed a routine, found the most comfortable shoes, shorts, and shirt. Me, I run with a baseball cap my husband got from a company picnic. I wear anti-glare sunglasses, a Timex watch flipped over on my right wrist so that the face is near my palm (I find it easier to turn my wrist in to read the time that way.). In short, I have a uniform that helps me psychologically, if not necessarily physically. And I've been wearing it for at least six months, and it's comfortable, and I'm used to it. Just like they tell you not to wear anything new or introduce any new foods into your diet the day of the race, I don't think they should necessarily be telling anyone to be eliminating anything either. I think even if you asked the elite runners, they'd tell you that they had something they wore or did that they thought helped them run and that they just couldn't do without.
Portland Marathon MP3 Policy
The Portland Marathon is MP3 friendly: so, "Plug-in"We have received praise for our marathon's policy on participants use of MP3's while running or walking in our event. We allow MP3's, iPods, cell phones, etc. The reason: we have a closed marathon course with no cars, no bikes, no skateboards, dogs or other impacting features. Our only rule is that for those using such devices...we expect they will do so in a reasonable way and use common sense.
We have had no problems on the course historically when our participants have worn MP3's or used cell phones. On those few occasions when ambulances have needed to come onto the course participants see and hear the flashing lights and sirens and react accordingly. So we are officially declaring the Portland Marathon as the MP3 friendly marathon. Our motto for all this is: "Plug-in!"
The controversy in our industry regarding MP3 players and the like grows out of a questionable rule passed by the UST&F Long Distance Running Committee last December. This rule without other explanation barred nearly every type of electronic device from use by a participant in a road run or walking event. This included MP3's of all types, iPods, head sets, Walkmans and even cells phones.
It is easy to understand the use of such a rule in a club running or walking event where runners and walkers might be impacted by cars and other vehicles sharing a road on which participants are running or walking. However, if the course is closed to vehicles there are few reasons not to allow the use of cell phones or head sets.
Moreover, if those using the MP3's or head sets are doing so in a way that is reasonable and using common sense there should be no problems. Obviously, runners and walkers need to listen to announcements at the start of an event. If runners and walkers are told the course will roll up at an eight hour pace and that MP3's and head sets should no longer be used after this point we believe our participants will comply. Historically they have done so in Portland. Our event believes it has the means to be sure we can communicate with participants on our closed course or at the start.
There will be no draconian measures taken against runners and walkers who train with MP3's and want to use them in our event. Spread the word: the Portland Marathon is the "Plug-in" marathon and is MP3 friendly!