USATF Rule 232(d) and 144.3(b)
Athletes shall not use video or cassette recorders or players, TVs CD or CD-ROM players, radio transmitters or receivers, mobile phones, computers, or any similar devices during the competition, nor shall such devices be premitted.
Safety I can understand, particularly if you are on an open road, or out-and-back course, although it's not clear to me how many injuries that have occured during competitions due to the use of headphones. Sweet Baboo has the experience of leading the lead runner at the Duke City Marthon, an out and back (bad idea) course. As he rode along the trail he yelled ahead, calling out "Lead runner! Lead runner!" people with headphones didn't hear him coming.
I long ago accepted this in triathlon events because of the cycling aspect. Listening to headphones while road cycling is just plain dangerous. Even when running, I don’t listen to headphones unless I’m facing the traffic, and then I only put one in.
Perhaps it's more of a "highly annoying" factor. As one runner put it, there's no end to the list of things that are dangerous on the course. You sign a waver agreeing to take the risks when you sign up for these races.
Here's some "what-ifs"
- What if it’s a closed, point-to-point or loop course? You wouldn't need to hear any vehicles coming up behind you.
- If hearing warnings is USATF’s primary concern, will they now ban the deaf and hard-of-hearing since they can’t hear who is coming up behind them?
- Here's another thought: transmitters and receivers. Guess that your heart monitor is? It's a transmitter, and your watch is a receiver , as is your Garmin.
- How about timing chips? They are wireless transmitters.
Unbelievably, there is a small number of runners behind the ban, but not for safety reasons. These "running purists" believe that headphones remove the pure experience of running. That’s great for them. But who made them my experience police? Everyone experiences running differently. On my short runs, I will run music free, but on my longer runs, I like to run along, lost in my thoughts, listening to my tunes, which give me emotional uplift.
When I ran my first marathon, it was one song in particular that helped see me through the last 10K. But on the marathon at Ironman Louisville, I ran music-free, humming certain songs to myself as I went along. Would I have been faster? Slower? Who knows?
I'd like it to be my choice to decide.
As well, running purists will complain that they can’t converse with people wearing headphones. Uh, who carries on conversations while running a marathon? People who are walking or those who want me to feel bad about myself, that’s who. When I’m running, I can barely gasp out a one-syllable reply now and then to someone who is talking to me, and even then my heartrate shoots up.
Oh, and PS to the purists: in most venues if I have headphones on, I don’t want to talk. Will you now FORCE me to listen to you? I can throw up on cue, ya know. (I learned it in high school. Long story. )
Lets move on.
SO here, as I see it, are my options, none of which involves the forced removal of my tunes.
Option 1: I can avoid events with a "headphone" ban. Let's face it, I’m not trying to qualify for Boston. Most smaller events are more fun anyway, and often more scenic. Trust me. There are plenty of race directors out there that don't like being bullied by governing bodies. At the recent New York Marathon and Marine Corps marathons, the ban wasn't even enforced.
Option 2: The technical loophole. Most directors that abide by USATF rules are just banning headphones, so check these out; they aren’t technically headphones. http://www.safesoundsports.com/
Option 3: Be sneaky. Wear mp3 sunglasses and a sweatband. For instance: http://www.amazon.com/Fio-MP3-Sunglasses-128-MB/dp/B000ASB5JW/ref=sr_1_11/104-2429120-7938322?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1194274070&sr=8-11. And other brands I’ve found: Nu Tech Dark Shadow 256MB MP3 Sunglasses, iSonic 256 MB MP3 Music Player with Headphones built-in in Sunglasses, and Oakley Thump MP3 Sunglasses 256MB.
Comments or idea that I haven't considered? What are you thoughts on this topic?