Thursday, July 3, 2008

more on the iPod ban, running + music

Although a novice runner, I've made earlier mention of a current controversy at races/running events - runners' use of music devices.

Last month's issue of Runner's World had a nice little piece (actually a sidebar in a larger feature on music + running, which is a good read) on the matter. The article makes it sound as though there's a chance for a modification if not an outright reversal of the USA Track & Field policy, but that remains to be seen at the end of the year. No official word on what the situation will be in the Baltimore Marathon. The packet they have online for viewing is from last year, which does stipulate a ban on music devices. Chatting with folks who ran it last year though, it sounds like it was pretty much left up to the runners' discretion.

At any rate, here's the piece:
"Facing the Music - Is the Headphone Ban Changing Course?"
by Susan Rinkunas

The right song can fire up any tough run, but as of late, rocking out during certain races could get you and your iPod disqualified and barred from the event forever. This gadget discrimination stems from the inconsistently enforced headphone ban enacted in December 2006 by USA Track & Field, the sport's governing body, which sanctions 4,000 events annually.

The ban made headlines last year as 29 people were DQ'ed at Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota, while the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon blackballed 156 runners caught using MP3 players and cell phones. While these races took a strict approach to enforcing the ban, most others left it up to the runners to police themselves. "Race directors recognize there is a certain segment of people who will absolutely refuse to run without their headphones, and they do risk excluding those people," says USATF spokeswoman Jill Geer. "But we have a duty to ensure the safety of our events." According to Tracy Sundlun, vice president of Elite Racing, the organizers of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series, the rule is a mistake and needs to be reworked. He says the races that are enforcing it are wasting time and effort that could be spent improving the quality of the event.

The rule will be reviewed at USATF's annual convention in December. "Is there a middle way between an outright ban and nothing at all?" asks Geer. "There might be, and I think that's what will be explored later this year."

Months ahead of a looming USATF vote, race directors on both sides of the issue are taking action. In March, the directors of Twin Cities and Grandma's marathons sent a letter to USATF in support of the ban. "There are a lot of people--officials, volunteers, emergency vehicles--on a racecourse besides runners," explains Scott Keenan, Grandma's executive director. "Participants need to be able to hear them coming and listen for instructions."

At the other end of the enforcement spectrum is the Portland Marathon in Oregon, where race director Les Smith promotes his event as headphone-friendly. "We have a controlled marathon course," Smith says. "It's not as if you're out there alone on a run."

The ING New York City Marathon--the world's largest 26.2-miler--takes a position between these two extremes. New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg believes headphone-wearing runners actually punish themselves. "We'd rather try to educate runners as to why it's better to run without headphones," says Wittenberg. "You miss out on the thrill of running with millions of spectators cheering you on."

Link to the original article

Check out other interesting & fun features in the Music Is Motivation portion of the Runner's World website.

Sidenote: Santogold's "Unstoppable" has become a summer running mainstay. Great cut from a great record.

I also love that she's wearing a KISS t-shirt.

1 comment:

John at Hella Sound said...

I *hope* the ban gets reversed. I'm starting to consider organizing a petition, or looking for and joining someone else's move to get it lifted.