Banning iPods during races? Say it isn’t so!!

November 16th, 2007

I love my iPod and run with it every chance I get. I listen to what my husband fondly refers to as “boom-tisk” music. You know. That quick beat that you get from electronica, house, and techno music. I love that. It keeps me going when my legs don’t want to. Nothing like hearing an extended mix from Depeche Mode to keep my legs running.

I also love my Nano attachment that keeps track of my distance, calories burned, speed, etc. It is sort of a poor man’s Garmin (without the heart monitor). However, I love it. By the end of this year, I will have run over 400 miles in 8 months with it (thanks to 4 months of rest due to a hip injury). I can’t run without it.

Nike armbandWell, after hearing about a recent ruling, I might have to. The USA Track & Field, the national governing body for running, recently banned the use of headphones and portable audio players like iPods at its official races. They state that this rule is for runner safety and preventing runners from having an “edge” on their competition.

Let me just state some points here:

  • World-class runners DO NOT wear iPods during races. Have you ever seen a world-class Ethiopian runner crossing the finish line wearing his iPod? It just doesn’t happen.
  • Race courses are closed to ensure the safety of runners. Paid, off duty police officers are planted throughout the race course to make sure that courses are free of traffic.
  • When you run a big race (i.e. half or full marathon), there are timed signs from the starting line back. If you are a “serious runner”, you will find your average finishing time sign (i.e. 4:00:00 hours to complete the marathon) and go to that area and wait for the starting gun. These “serious runners” are in the front and DO NOT wear iPods. There is no danger to them of running anyone over that is wearing one.
  • Finally, the obvious – people that wear iPods during races are not world-class runners. We are the over-weight, middle aged folks that are running to wear off our “middle-aged spread”. We aren’t going to win any races. We just want to finish. We are the ones in the back of the pack with the strollers, the knee braces. We smell like Ben-Gay and never miss a port-a-potty on the race route. We are doing this just to test ourselves and to prove that we can make the distance.

There are reports that major races will disqualify runners that bring iPods & headphones to races. Hmmm…disqualify me? You obviously think I will be close to the front and outrun the 10,000+ runners that are in the same race. Nope. I am the chunky girl in the back that is huffing & puffing and begging my legs to go a bit further.

I honestly think that this ruling is just about “covering the proverbial backside”. If officials are afraid thatNike iPod running someone will get hurt, they shouldn’t have races. Over my racing life, I have seen my fair share of falls, fainting participants, and vomiting contestants. It happens. I can’t imagine people suing over a fall they had during a race. I certainly can’t imagine someone suing because a runner was wearing an iPod on the course next to them.

Will I run in a race if they ban iPods and threaten me with disqualification? Sure. I am doing this for fun and to keep the “love handles” to a minimum. If they want to disqualify me, go ahead. I will be the girl in the back jogging next to the mom with 2 kids in a stroller. She and I aren’t planning to win. We just want to finish.

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