The sudden change of course throws a curveball to the many races that disqualified runners for wearing headphones. I’ve heard at least one story of a streaker whose streak was officially broken because they were DQ’ed after completing a race wearing headphones. Will they continue enforcing the ban as is their right? Should they reinstated runners who were DQ’ed after reviewing marathon pictures? I doubt they will reinstate runners but should they continue enforcing their previous bans?
The USATF has decided to leave the decision about headphones up to the individual race directors, except in the case of USATF Championship races, where those competing for awards can’t wear portable audio devices.
I personally am not a fan of wearing headphones while racing and have had an occasional problem when trying to pass someone who was wearing them. It is one thing to train with headphones, but to me racing is a more pure component of running and it is easier to enjoy the event and surroundings without them.
This quote from The Final Sprint sums it up well:
“The difficulty in enforcement was part of the reasoning,” said USATF Rules Committee chairman John Blackburn through a news release. “However, several good-sized races have demonstrated that they were able to enforce the rule. There were strong opinions on all sides of this discussion, both understanding the issues related to athlete safety, race organization, difficulty of enforcement. This resolution appeared to be the best position for USATF overall.”
Many race organizers thought the genesis of the ban was due to safety concerns; runners may be listening to music which is so loud that they cannot respond to instructions should an emergency arise. Indeed, the issue had been couched that way by many who supported the ban, who also argued that plugged-in runners were discourteous to their fellow athletes, running in their own world and blocking race courses.
While the rule modification will certainly provide race organizers with much-needed breathing room, it will do little to quell the debate amongst runners themselves. Many serious recreational runners don’t want to line up next to headphone wearers, afraid that their competitive efforts may be impeded. The new language of the rule may prompt some event organizers to offer headphone-free starting corrals to mollify those concerns.
What is your opinion on wearing headphones during a race?
HT Run to Win
[tags] USATF, headphones [/tags]