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USATF lifts ban on iPods at road races


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  • USATF lifts ban on iPods at road races

    Remember that uproar over USATF banning portable listening devices at long-distance races?

    A typical story was here: ... ipods.html

    Well, USATF now says: Oops! Nevermind. Such devices are OK now. (Just don't use them to communicate with a coach.)

    Item 32 was "accepted as amended" at the USATF annual meeting in Reno a few weeks ago. The scorecard of rules OK'd, nixed or tabled is posted here: ... proved.pdf

    Here's the new rule (without the crossouts and underlines of the original phrasing, since I couldn't copy-and-paste them here):

    Item 32 - Amend Rule 144.3(f) as follows:
    The visible possession or use by athletes of video, ((or)) audio or communications ((cassette recorders or players, TV’s, CD, or DVD players, radio transmitters or receivers, mobile phones, computers, or any similar)) devices in the competition area. The Games Committee for an LDR event may allow the use of portable listening devices not capable of receiving communication; however, those competing in Championships for awards, medals, or prize money may not use such devices.

    Who to thank for the change of heart?

    Item 32 was submitted by David Katz and Phil Greenwald, Rules Committee, and Don Lein, chair of Masters LDR.

    More about Katz:

    Phil Greenwald is the USA team manager at masters world championships.

    But of course! It took the grownups of USATF (the masters) to fix this booboo. :wink:

    K E N
    K E N

  • #2
    Thanks for the update, Ken. I am trying to get fit enough to enter a few road races as I am entering my 50th year. But I was really looking forward to having some tunes to listen to, to take my mind off of the cracking and popping coming from my knees and ankles. :lol:


    • #3
      A cynic would say that this embarassing reversal is closely tied to road races wanting to appease their sponsors ("Buy the iPod Plus system from Nike and train in it every day, but don't run our race with it" just didn't have a very sincere sound to it). I'm a cynic here.


      • #4
        The rule reversal had nothing to do with sponsors. I was one of the orginal supporters of the headphone ban but found over the past few years that it was extremely difficult to enforce.
        We tried, it didn't work out so we fixed it.
        In a perfect world the original rule works. But obviously the world is not perfect!


        • #5
          I can understand the rule being useful for elite runners, or those who are in teh upper tiers. But as I am now attempting to become one of those who run just to complete the race, I am glad to see it gone. And yes, enforceability can be a huge problem to any rule or regulation, no matter how well conceived.


          • #6
            While I don't know that it's efficient for races to try to enforce any anti-headphone rule, I do hope that races continue to discourage the use of the devices. I know I'm fighting against the tide here, as the iPod phenomenon is not just for the Penguin crowd any more -- the flocasts video of an Oklahoma State long run showed German Fernandez and Colby Lowe with ear buds in. That's too bad, IMO. Seems to cut down on the camaraderie of training with your teammates if you are shutting down one of your senses.


            • #7
              The headphone ban caused problems for large races which were, or potentially were, US Championship races. Potentially not allowing races such as Peachtree or the NYC Marathon to be a US Championship race because they wouldn't ban headphones (I have no idea if these races did or did not have such a ban, or if this was an issue for these races; I'm just using them as possible examples) doesn't make sense.


              • #8
                I've always taken the point of view that if you need to have music (whatever) in your ear while running then you must not actually like running all that much and should find something else to do.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by KevinM
                  A cynic would say that this embarassing reversal is closely tied to road races wanting to appease their sponsors ("Buy the iPod Plus system from Nike and train in it every day, but don't run our race with it" just didn't have a very sincere sound to it). I'm a cynic here.
                  I am on the board of a race. That's not it. It's about participation numbers on one hand, and safety on the other.

                  The demographics of road races have changed drastically. The overwhelming majority of those who enter are now casual fitness folks, or people participating to raise money for charities. Many are walkers, not runners. Every run or walk they take is with their iPod, and they can't imagine doing the event without it.

                  Serious runners, of course, scoff at the iPod crowd. But the reality is, without that huge number of people entering, races simply aren't viable. Good luck finding major sponsorship for a race with 500 in it. For the huge races (Chicago, New York, etc), it takes at least 1,000 participants to support one elite (30,000+ participants and, what maybe 30 elites?) For smaller races, the ratio is even bigger because they lack the economy of scale of the larger races. Serious runners should be very thankful for the iPod crowd because those people are helping to pay the freight for everyone on the front two rows.

                  Even with the ban, people still sneak them in. I can tell you from personal experience that this can be nightmare for race organizers from a safety standpoint and it definitely effects your insurance.


                  • #10
                    It's now official-official:
           ... 2_10_22_16

                    K E N
                    K E N


                    • #11
                      Although not explicitly stated, it looks like GPS devices should also banned in championship races or other events where prize money is on the line. Like a radio, a GPS receiver receives information from a third party which is not universally available to all competitors. It is able to tell you instantaneous speed, for instance.

                      Neither the IAAF nor USATF has released a policy on GPS receivers that I am aware of. However, wrist chronometers and heart rate monitors have been allowed for years.

                      Interestingly, Lornah Kiplagat wore a GPS device as she won the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships last October...