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Thread: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

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    Very Active Member hmlee's Avatar
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    US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    I don't know if many people remember me, but I used to post around here a while ago. Anyhoo, I was reading the NY Times website today when I spotted this very interesting article. I had a heated debate about this with one of my roommates - a former cross country / track & field runner. As a swimmer, I admit I'm not really familiar with marathons and their ilk, but my argument about this ban was that it was a stupid decision. I felt that at any race larger than say, 10,000 people, it would be impossible to enforce. Additionally, I felt it would alienate casual racers. My roommate countered with an argument that people running a marathon don't need music, and they wouldn't quit a marathon simply because they couldn't listen to some - thus it wouldn't alienate anyone. She also said that the safety of a race is the most important aspect, no matter how much money was lost.

    What do ya'll think?

    Article is below for reference:

    November 1, 2007
    Rule for Marathoners Who Run to Their Own Tune
    By JULIET MACUR

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 — At the peak of the marathon season, with one of the year’s biggest races set for Sunday in New York, a worry has emerged among some runners, and it has nothing to do with hitting the wall at Mile 20: Will Beyoncé be there to push them to the finish? Will they be able to call upon Bon Jovi for support when there is no one else to turn to?

    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.

    But trying to enforce such a rule on a 26.2-mile course filled with thousands of runners may be futile. The New York City Marathon, which strongly discourages the use of audio players, will not attempt to police its field on Sunday for lack of a surefire way to carry out the ban.

    Technically, at last weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon here, and even at much smaller events like the Creaky Bones 5-kilometer race in Florida and the Corn Maze 4-miler in Tennessee, runners should not have had the luxury of listening to their favorite songs along the way. Marine Corps Marathon officials threatened to disqualify runners using headphones, but did not follow through.

    “To ban them outright is just stupid, and if they want to disqualify me, they can,” Jennifer Lamkins, a teacher from Long Beach Calif., said before running the Marine Corps Marathon. “If they are banning them because we can’t hear directions, does that mean they should ban deaf people, too?”

    Elite runners do not listen to music in races because they need to concentrate on their own bodies and hear their competitors, and some die-hard, old-school runners follow suit. Those runners — purists who prefer the sound of the crowd or their own breathing over, say, “Fergalicious” — cheered the headphone ban.

    But for competitors who use music as a motivational tool while training and competing, the ban was frustrating, as if the race directors were forcing them to run barefoot.

    With technological advances leading to smaller and smaller audio playersthat are easier to carry and conceal during races, the rift in the sport and the debate over the issue seems to be here to stay.

    “They can ban iPods all they want, but how do you think they are going to enforce that when those things have gotten so small?” said Richie Sais, 46, a police officer in Suffolk County on Long Island, before running the Marine Corps Marathon.

    “I dare them to find the iPod on me,” he said, adding that he had clipped his iPod Shuffle, which is barely larger than a quarter, under his shirt.

    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.

    While race officials could not cite specific incidents caused by headphone users, they did say that the new rule would make races safer because it improves communication. Still, they fear that banning headphones may alienate some recreational runners.

    “Years ago, the picture of people running marathons was these lean, mean Type-A male running machines, but today people running are your neighbors, just regular people,” said Tracy Sundlun, executive vice president for Elite Racing, which organizes marathons. “It’s a different sport now and we have to cater to these new people, not exclude them”

    Coming up with a way to enforce a headphone ban — if enforcement is even possible — has been a challenge for race organizers. Some have already taken a hard line, like the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in June, which had a field of about 7,000 runners. Race officials collected iPods at the start and then mailed them back to competitors. Still, 30 maverick runners who broke the rules and used headphones were disqualified.

    “We proved that it is very possible to enforce,” said Scott Keenan, the Grandma’s Marathon race director. “If other races are allowing it, then shame on them.”

    Others are more lenient. The New York City Marathon’s race director, Mary Wittenberg, said it would be impossible to police a race with 38,000 runners moving through five boroughs. Wittenberg, who admitted that she used U2 songs to help get her through tough workouts, did not rule out a ban in the future. If all the major marathons agreed to enforce the rule, New York City would follow, she said.

    “Our overwhelming concern is safety, but I think somebody is crazy to wear an iPod at this marathon for other reasons,” she said. “You want every single sense tuned in to the experience of running the race of a lifetime.”

    Tucker Andersen, who has run in every New York City Marathon since 1976, scoffed at runners who rely on music to get them into a zone, and said it could create dangerous situations for other competitors. He remembered plenty of incidents in which runners, oblivious to the people around them, cut off others in a mad dash for a cup of water.

    Andersen also said wearing headphones robs runners of the complete marathon experience. He remembered running alone across the Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx in his first marathon, about to hit the wall at the 20-mile point, when a teenager leaned out of a building’s window and played the theme song from “Rocky” on a boom box.

    “If I was wearing an iPod, I never would have heard that,” Andersen said.

    But nothing, no magical stories of crowd noise or strict rules that threatened disqualification, deterred some iPod users in the Marine Corps Marathon from bringing their music along on the 26.2-mile journey through scenic Washington and Virginia. They tucked them into their shorts, taped them to the inside of their bras, shoved them into tiny belts. They hid their headphones under headbands and ball caps.

    No matter the rule, Jennifer Rock, an Air Force officer from Little Rock, Ark., would have her Sean Paul. She had her mother, Denise, meet her at Mile 15 to hand over her iPod. The race director Rick Nealis said the marines guarding the start line would remind competitors to leave their headphones behind, but there was no enforcement. More than 20,000 runners flooded the starting gate, many with iPods strapped to their arms and unabashedly wearing headphones, including the huge foam ones, circa 1985.

    And in sections of the race course where spectators were scarce, including Mile 20, those rulebreakers pressed the play button when the marathon became lonely and cruel.

    For John-Louis Kronfeld of Chester, N.Y., that was near the end, when he realized he was breaking barriers and running farther than he ever had.

    At the foot of the final stretch of the course, a windy, steep road that leads to the Marine Corps War Memorial, Kronfeld did not think he could take another step. Then he heard the first few notes of a song that saved him.

    “Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ started playing,” he said. “In my head, I was singing, ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ and suddenly I got that last nudge through the finish.”

  2. #2
    Very Active Member Leonard Jansen's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    Hey Hillary -

    I'm going to guess that USATF made the ruling because whatever company carries their race liability insurance demanded it. Therefore, if you are going to have a USATF-sanctioned race (and insurance), you have to at least make an attempt to follow the rules. Of course, you can always have your own race without a USATF sanction and USATF will have no say over it. In the same way that you can have an open water race without USS or USMS blessing. Of course, then you either have to arrange for your own insurance or do without.

    As a former national-level racewalker, I will say that there was definately a feeling among upper-level competitors that people who used walkmans (hey, it's been awhile) were pretty low on the food chain. My personal feeling was that I never used one because it was distracting, but didn't really care if anyone else did - the more people in a race, the better. The thing that drove me crazy was people who used watches that would beep to a set tempo. Those rotten things mess up a racewalkers tempo and stride like nothing else.

    -LBJ
    "Excitable boy" they all said.

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    Very Active Pirate Blackbeard's Peg's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    If folks really want to listen to music and the race is enforcing no headphones, why can't you imagine the tune in your head? Its just as good sometimes. I am imagining the thump of "Eye of the Tiger" right now and it is getting me going!

    Ever seen Shawshank Redemption? Remember the scene where Andy (Tim Robbin's character) plays the opera music over the facility speakers, and then gets sent to Solitary for two weeks? When he came out, he was telling the others that he was not lonely, that he had those two ladies singing in his head - and THAT was something that the prison could not take away.

    Personally, I find running boring - having some music would at least keep me interested in what I am doing. But I can definetely understand how it distracts folks and otherwise poses a safety issue (rogue high-speed car chase or something).

    A side note - I see a LOT of people driving with iPod headphones - this is ILLEGAL!!!
    Why do we always run out of rum?

  4. #4
    Swimmer Bill
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    If it was swimming, the discussion might be more about whether or not an iPod should be considered a pacing device.

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    Very Fetching Rump SwimStud's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbeard's Peg View Post
    If folks really want to listen to music and the race is enforcing no headphones, why can't you imagine the tune in your head? Its just as good sometimes. I am imagining the thump of "Eye of the Tiger" right now and it is getting me going!
    Just let us know if the singing stops and the voices start holding conversations with you...



    .

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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    From what I've been told, Tom, Ralph & Mr. Moose have been hearing those voices for years.....Have not, have too, have not, have too, not, too, not...

    Where is the VO2MAX Shampoo when you need it....

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    Very Active Member swim4me's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    My husband ran the Marine Marathon last weekend and will run NY on Sunday (I am going with him to NY). We had not heard of the ban until just before the Marine Marathon. He decided not wear his iPod for that run. However, he will wear it for NY. He enjoys listening to the beat as he 'zones' out, and since he is not elite (thought he did qualify for Boston last weekend ), he does not think it is such a big deal.

    When I run on a treadmill, I enjoy my iPod, but when I run outside, I would rather listen to nature. When I ran the one marathon I did run , I enjoyed listening to the crowd and what was going on around me. I would not have listened to an iPod if I had one then. I do not see the harm in it, different people have different ways of enjoying their run (or swim ).
    If you want a place in the sun, you have to put up with a few blisters. Abigail Van Buren

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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    I don't run in marathons (or anything else for that matter). But I've seen people wearing radios and MP3 players in the pool (they're not, as far as I can tell, competitive swimmers). It seems to me that they would break your concentration.

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    Very Active Member hmlee's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    I enjoy listening to music while in the pool and I was a serious competitive swimmer. Unfortunately, I've found that without the motivation of a coach or teammates, music is necessary for me to *keep* my mind from wandering during a workout...

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    Very Active Member 3strokes's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    Quote Originally Posted by swim4me View Post
    .........When I ran the one marathon I did run , I enjoyed listening to the crowd and what was going on around me.
    There. You've gone and done it. Now that the powers that be know that some runners enjoy listening to the crowd (and might even -Oh Sacrilege!- be motivated by cheers and applause) they will pass laws and rules banning the crowds from cheering or applauding (and while we're at it, let's have those events "in camera" so that exhibitionist runners -or swimmers- do NOT get to perform in front of people and thus gain an unfair advantage over introverted and shy sports-persons. There!)
    ..... Where, Oh, where did I last see my swimming suit? Oh well!

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    Very Active Member Leonard Jansen's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    Quote Originally Posted by swim4me View Post
    My husband ran the Marine Marathon last weekend and will run NY on Sunday (I am going with him to NY). We had not heard of the ban until just before the Marine Marathon. He decided not wear his iPod for that run. However, he will wear it for NY.
    I strongly recommend NOT wearing it for NYC. One of the highlights of that race is the sounds/chaos of the whole experience. Tell him that once he reaches Brooklyn, to start yelling "Brooklyn" and the crowd will roar back. I did it in 1987 (and got a top 10 place in the elite racewalking division), and really enjoyed talking with people the whole way.

    BTW, the men's marathon Olympic Trials in in Central Park TOMORROW (Saturday, 3 Nov.) If you are there in time, it might be fun to watch.

    -LBJ
    "Excitable boy" they all said.

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    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbeard's Peg View Post
    A side note - I see a LOT of people driving with iPod headphones - this is ILLEGAL!!!
    Is this true? I see people driving with them all the time. How is this different than listening to blaring loud music in the car? Is it illegal in DC, MD, VA?

    I like to wear an ipod when I run. But I am very careful and usually on a trail, not a road.

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    Very Active Pirate Blackbeard's Peg's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    Is this true? I see people driving with them all the time. How is this different than listening to blaring loud music in the car? Is it illegal in DC, MD, VA?
    This is true - I read it in the Maryland driver's handbook (i was a tool and read the whole thing many times before I took my driving test). Headphones not allowed.

    And how is it different from listening to blaring music? Having something in your ear automatically blocks out some outside sounds. Combine that with the silencing coeffecient of drag of the car itself, and you probably can't hear any emergency vehicles coming. What about headphones that cover your ear? Bose noice cancelling headphones?

    Fort, I can completely understand where you are coming from on this. But I think it was having an open earlobe that the law is looking for.
    Why do we always run out of rum?

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    Very Active Member aquaFeisty's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    I think Leonard's right... the iPod ban is due to insurance-related reasons...
    I don't think it'll impact the #'s of people signing up for marathons... you figure, the ban does not effect whether or not you can wear and iPod while training. training, esp. for a marathon, is way more time consuming and potentially tedious than the actual race itself. I wouldn't think not being able to wear the iPod in a race would be such a big deal.

    then again... I don't wear an iPod when running outside either (well, when I used to run.) it's too much fun to look around and listen to whatever is going on. I would wear one while on a treadmill, though. it doesn't get much more boring than running on a treadmill.

    (oddly, no issues at all being bored while swimming laps... too many entertaining OCD things to do instead...)

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    Very Active Member FindingMyInnerFish's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    In races I've run in the past several years or more, I've seen in the race literature rules that say no headphones, roller blades, no baby strollers, and no dogs. Again, I suspect, for insurance/liability reasons. But these are individual races, so I guess what the USATF is doing is to make this a general policy for any race that they sanction. Won't probably change people's behavior all that much.

    As for me, I prefer not to run w/ headphones. I mostly run outdoors, and I feel safer if I'm not wearing them, since I can then be aware of who might be coming up behind me (too many reports of women runners being attacked in Philly lately, even in broad daylight) and can also stay alert for traffic noises. In races, I want even less to wear them, especially in crowded races, although I'm not really bothered if others wear them. On running forums, any threads on headphone wearing automatically get long and heated, so I guess it's one of those things on which there will never be consensus.

    My greater worries in races and while running are of being clipped by someone yakking on a cell phone while pushing a baby stroller and wearing roller blades and running with their dogs all at the same time.

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    Very Active Member scyfreestyler's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    Quote Originally Posted by Leonard Jansen View Post
    BTW, the men's marathon Olympic Trials in in Central Park TOMORROW (Saturday, 3 Nov.) If you are there in time, it might be fun to watch.

    -LBJ
    Not so fun this year...one of the competitors died this AM.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/new...v=ap&type=lgns

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    Very Active Member rtodd's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    What a shame. For someone to be that in shape....I can't believe it. My Prayers go out to the family. This will motivate Ryan Hall to win at the Olympics.

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    Very Active Member Leonard Jansen's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    Ryan Shay's death at 28 years of age was a real shocker. He was a 2:14 marathoner from the "grit and grind" school of running and had a legit dark horse chance at the team because of the toughness of the course. I was watching the race on the internet broadcast and at one point they announced that he had been taken to the hospital after a hour or so of running. I thought that was odd, but then figured maybe he'd tripped and fell or some such.
    I can't really remember anything quite like it among the elites in the 40 years I've been a track fan.

    -LBJ
    "Excitable boy" they all said.

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    Very Active Member Slowswim's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    I wear my iPod when running on a treadmill or outside alone. I think its rude to wear them while running with a friend or group.

    I wear them on my bike which is dangerous, but I usually ride on a trail.

    I've never worn them in a race. I need to hear if some one is gaining on me, hear myself as a check, and hear if the guys I'm chasing down is struggling.

    Headphones are banned in Florida when driving, too.
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    Very Active Member swim4me's Avatar
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    Re: US Track And Field ban on iPods - discuss

    Quote Originally Posted by Leonard Jansen View Post
    I strongly recommend NOT wearing it for NYC. One of the highlights of that race is the sounds/chaos of the whole experience. Tell him that once he reaches Brooklyn, to start yelling "Brooklyn" and the crowd will roar back. I did it in 1987 (and got a top 10 place in the elite racewalking division), and really enjoyed talking with people the whole way.

    BTW, the men's marathon Olympic Trials in in Central Park TOMORROW (Saturday, 3 Nov.) If you are there in time, it might be fun to watch.

    -LBJ
    He did wear it for NYC. He ran NYC last year also. I don't remember the complaing last year, but this year he complained that the crowds were so loud that he could not hear his iPod . I think he would enjoy the experience more without it also, but he has to learn things on his own (i.e. he will not listen to me). There were a lot of runners that I saw that wore theirs as well.

    I did not make it to the Olympic trials, but I did see that it was a sad morning. I guess no matter how fit we are, we are all vunerable.
    If you want a place in the sun, you have to put up with a few blisters. Abigail Van Buren

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