Posted by: Joe English | February 15, 2008

Races: new “no headphone” logo coming soon

In the wake of last year’s ban of headphones in USATF sanctioned marathon road races, the Road Runners Club of America has announced a new logo to identify those races enforcing the ban.

No Headphones logo

The headphone ban was implemented to address safety concerns on race courses and has been widely unpopular with runners. Races such as Grandma’s and Twin Cities have banned the use of headphones at their events. But not all races are on board with the ban. The Portland Marathon, for example, is citing itself as “MP3 Friendly” in its marketing literature for 2008.

The new logo will appear on forms and in marketing materials to help educate runners not to bring their iPods and other devices to events enforcing the ban.

It is interesting to note that when the ban was first discussed last year it sounded as if it were going to be unversally implemented at races. But as this new logo was announced, the press release talked of the difficulty of enforcement for race directors choosing to enforce the ban. According to Jim Gerweck of the RRCA, “Respecting an event director’s choice to ban headphones is the shared responsibility of
every participant to ensure the safety of all runners and the future success of the event and the sport as a whole.”

And he adds that, “Race officials don’t ban headphones to be mean to runners — it’s for their own safety and that of everyone else in the race.”

So now you know what to be on the lookout for when picking your next race.

Running Advice and News



  1. Folks may find this link from the Portland Marathon interesting: (it explains why they feel headphones are ‘ok’ for their race)

  2. Ok All,
    I simply have to say something about this. I have never thought had strong feelings one way or hte other about this as long as it didn’t impair non-plugged in runners.

    The statements in this race supporting the use of mp3s, etc. is inaccurate because they have NOT heard or maybe just LISTENED to the non-plugged in runners. I don’t go to a race nowadays that I don’t hear a comment about someone cutting them off, veering all over oblivious to their path, of those who are plugged in. It most certainly is a safety issue that this race has elected to ignore. Unless of course their race for some unknown reason is “different” from all the rest and they simply don’t have this problem (doubtful).

    They appeal to common sense – since when has that ever worked? I’m not into legislating things; yet an agnecy like the USATF doesn’t do that without cause… and certainly not based on a single “incident”. Sounds more like politicians. “Common sense” is different for everyone. Taht is why appealing to common sense doesn’t work.

    Only a month ago I ran a local 5k race with a beginning runner I’m coaching (26:00 for the 5k). She was so pissed off by the end of the race because of a couple plugged in runners weaved their ways across in front of her constantly cutting her off. She experienced my specific issue with all this.

    If someone wants to jeopardize their safety by being plugged in, great… do it in your training runs. The smarter individuals I’ve seen at least only plug in one ear and keep the other peeled for cars, approaching runners, and muggers.

    Personally the only time it affects me is on a training run, approaching from behind… I startle them… which startles me.. and I’m just hoping neither of us jump into the middle of the road! In races, few if any runners at faster paces (sub-18 5k or so) seem to wear headsets. Just my observation.

    But having first hand experience in races at varying paces with my runners as well as training runs, I will just say this: I understand their use. I understand how they may even help someone get that daily run in. So as a motivation tool to get people to get out and get it done – great! I also fully understand the safety issues and for anyone to minimize them is a gross one-sided misjudgment.
    Coach Dean

  3. Dean,

    Thanks for expressing a point of view that we haven’t heard much — from the non-headset wearing crowd.

    I was out at a race last Summer that came through my neighborhood — it was a half-Ironman and half-marathon. I was on the half-marathon course and I counted the runners in headsets. I was shocked to find that almost 75% of the runners were wearing them. (Surpisingly, the leader was wearing on himself.)

    My position has always been that it’s just not necessary to wear headphones during races. If I’m out on a lonely 18 mile cruise by myself, then it is fine to have the company of music. But on race day, I think runners should concentrate on what they’re doing — and enjoy the fun environment of the day. There are people cheering, bands playing, and runners to talk with on many courses — why miss that?

    I’ve heard people say that they “can’t run without their music” and that taking away music makes it impossible for them to race. To me, that’s a very difficult position for them to be in. Music has become a crutch and unfortunately it is keeping them from learning how to pace, tracking their breathing, and monitoring their form.

    I have one more question that I am planning to ask both USATF and the Portland Marathon — how does aderence (or non-adherence to the rule) impact USATF course certification?

    It will be interesting to see how this debate continues to play out.

    Coach Joe

  4. Joe,
    You last question will be very interesting to hear! That will impact every USATF sanctioned/certified road race!

    Touched on in the article on Portland is of course the practical issue of just HOW do you enforce this with 10 or 20 thousand runners! Yank them off the coures? Take numbers and remove their names from results? I’m sooo glad I’m not a race director any more. My hat is off to all confronting this.
    Coach Dean

  5. Personally, I’m with you Coach. I enjoy my music during the training periods, but not during races…it throws me off too much in so many ways.

    Thanks for the head’s up on the new logo!

  6. After 30 years of running, I never really used headphones until last year, when I tried the Nike iPod dongle. Now I’m using another player.

    In a race, headphones don’t really help. I’m slow, and I want to hear the people around me.

    On a training run, I keep the sound low so I can hear traffic and other people. On some runs, I don’t use music, so I can check my form and breathing.

    This would be a difficult rule to enforce for the recreational runners. Runners who talk on their mobile phones or push a stroller cause problems, too. But no one really wants to pull people out of a race.

    But for competitive runners, it should be easier. Wanna wear headphones? Then you don’t get an award or a certified time.

    DQ seems harsh, but as Dean points out, most competitive runners don’t wear headphones anyway. I thought one purpose for this rule was to keep runners from getting extra information during the run, anyway.

  7. […] worry about in the 2008 edition are Race directors usually have other things to worry about headphone bans and baby strollers on the course. But the 2007 Honolulu Marathon will go down in road racing […]

  8. I’ve been cutoff by runners sans headphones more often than those wearing them and I don’t think a few bad apples should dictate a whole race and punish those who are responsible headphone fans.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: