Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sea Wheeze FAQ Update - No Ipods!! Ladies Are Getting Shorts, No Medal?

My husband alerted me that the FAQ to the Sea Wheeze marathon has been updated. It turns out that women will be getting run shorts and not crops as rumored. That makes sense since the run is in August. There was no mention of a finish medal which I know is a huge motivator for a lot of people - they like the race bling. The other interesting item, particularly to me, is that iPods/earbuds are not allowed.

Q: can I wear headphones/iPod during the run?

A: To ensure everyone’s safety and maximum enjoyment of Vancouver’s setting and the course route, we ask that headphone use is not permitted during the SeaWheeze race. We promise you won’t want to miss anything that’s happening, anyways…keep those ears open!

I wish I had known about this before I paid my $128 because I probably wouldn't have signed up. Music is a huge part of my cardio routine. From what I understand it's not uncommon but I don't get the issue on a closed course. My husband is running in the Surf City Marathon this weekend, a 20,000-person marathon and they have no such restriction. The Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon posted that headphone use is discouraged but it wasn't banned. I can certainly see turning the music off at the beginning of the race where the start is very chaotic but once everyone has settled into a pace and people are more spread out, who cares?  I looked up the rules to the Vancouver BMO marathon and iPods were banned there, too. It must be a Vancouver/insurance thing.

I found an interesting New York Times article from 2007 discussing the banning of iPods in races:

"USA Track & Field, the national governing body for running, this year banned the use of headphones and portable audio players like iPods at its official races. The new rule was created to ensure safety and to prevent runners from having a competitive edge....

Some events strongly discouraged the use of audio players in the past, but the track and field federation’s new rule mandated an outright ban so that runners would be more aware of their surroundings and be able to clearly hear race announcements or warnings from other runners.

Jill Geer, spokeswoman for USA Track & Field, said the ban was “basically an insurance issue,” because rates rise substantially if headphones are allowed. Each sanctioned race receives liability insurance from USA Track & Field, and it would be up to each race director to enforce the ban. If the ban were ignored, the races would be liable in the event of an accident caused by someone using headphones, Geer said."

The comments to the article were interesting:

  • I've run many races and have seen fellow runners carrying flags, running backwards, wearing costumes, pushing strollers, running on the sidewalk, stopping to relieve themselves, bending over to tie shoes, and, sadly, dropping dead--and listening to music is against the rules? 
  • The people who were outright dangerous were those who insisted on stopping to walk in the middle of the road, or, even worse, two and three people across (chatting, without headphones). I'm not one of these purists who thinks that walking during a marathon makes you unworthy, but blocking the middle of the road is a serious hazard, and from my experience, much more harmful than zoning out to an 80s mix. Those who can't pull over and walk in single file should be DQ'd, not the iPod'ers. 


  • I have run the New York City Marathon and the Dublin (Ireland) marathon and although I never use headphones I think those who want to should be allowed. If the events are properly organised there should be no safety risk. As far as psychological advantage goes I think that if you start vetting people for psychological advantages you would eventually eliminate all those except runners dressed up as Superman or people in a chicken outfit who had no intention of winning and so had no psychological advantage over the rest of us. Competitive runners are backbone of the marathon.
  • This is an excellent strategy for reducing the size and number of marathons, which I suspect is the real reason for it. There's a reason why I -- and every other G.I. who ever served -- sang cadences on long runs. The lyrics and rhythm distract you from the self-doubt that plagues all but the most serious and dedicated runners. As for notions of "shared experience" and "community of fellow runners," I gather those promoting that particular fantasy have never heard of the "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner." Good story. Perhaps they'll read it. As a "shared experience." In their book clubs.  
  • By the time you've gotten to race day, you've probably been running for a while, training, day after day. You've developed a routine, found the most comfortable shoes, shorts, and shirt. Me, I run with a baseball cap my husband got from a company picnic. I wear anti-glare sunglasses, a Timex watch flipped over on my right wrist so that the face is near my palm (I find it easier to turn my wrist in to read the time that way.). In short, I have a uniform that helps me psychologically, if not necessarily physically. And I've been wearing it for at least six months, and it's comfortable, and I'm used to it. Just like they tell you not to wear anything new or introduce any new foods into your diet the day of the race, I don't think they should necessarily be telling anyone to be eliminating anything either. I think even if you asked the elite runners, they'd tell you that they had something they wore or did that they thought helped them run and that they just couldn't do without.  
I was doing more googling on the subject of ipods and marathons and found this:

Portland Marathon MP3 Policy

The Portland Marathon is MP3 friendly: so, "Plug-in"

We have received praise for our marathon's policy on participants use of MP3's while running or walking in our event. We allow MP3's, iPods, cell phones, etc. The reason: we have a closed marathon course with no cars, no bikes, no skateboards, dogs or other impacting features. Our only rule is that for those using such devices...we expect they will do so in a reasonable way and use common sense. 

We have had no problems on the course historically when our participants have worn MP3's or used cell phones. On those few occasions when ambulances have needed to come onto the course participants see and hear the flashing lights and sirens and react accordingly. So we are officially declaring the Portland Marathon as the MP3 friendly marathon. Our motto for all this is: "Plug-in!"

The controversy in our industry regarding MP3 players and the like grows out of a questionable rule passed by the UST&F Long Distance Running Committee last December. This rule without other explanation barred nearly every type of electronic device from use by a participant in a road run or walking event. This included MP3's of all types, iPods, head sets, Walkmans and even cells phones.

It is easy to understand the use of such a rule in a club running or walking event where runners and walkers might be impacted by cars and other vehicles sharing a road on which participants are running or walking. However, if the course is closed to vehicles there are few reasons not to allow the use of cell phones or head sets.

Moreover, if those using the MP3's or head sets are doing so in a way that is reasonable and using common sense there should be no problems. Obviously, runners and walkers need to listen to announcements at the start of an event. If runners and walkers are told the course will roll up at an eight hour pace and that MP3's and head sets should no longer be used after this point we believe our participants will comply. Historically they have done so in Portland. Our event believes it has the means to be sure we can communicate with participants on our closed course or at the start.

There will be no draconian measures taken against runners and walkers who train with MP3's and want to use them in our event. Spread the word: the Portland Marathon is the "Plug-in" marathon and is MP3 friendly!

    36 comments:

    Olivia said...

    That IS odd. But I guess if it's a Vancouver thing...

    Another reason I'm not a runner and would never do marathons.

    Molly said...

    They are banned altogether in virtually all triathlons as well and thank goodness! I've seen far too many hazards from folks not aware of their surroundings. I think it's safer to just assume they are not allowed in races than otherwise.

    Marina said...

    There is a big race locally that bans ipods, but it's not enforced at all. I wonder if they will be enforcing it at Seawheeze.

    Quite honestly, I am regretting the decision to sign up. No medals, just shorts and the clusterpuck that you KNOW will happen with an inaugural race... just doubting it will be worth the registration fee AND also the cost to travel :(.

    Cowgirl Warrior said...

    I did the Vancouver Half a few years back, the ban was in place but loads of people still had them. I think it would be better if they said leave them off for the first few miles due to congestion but when the crowd thins out it's not an issue.

    LM said...

    Just wear your iPod... I do it anyways for 1/2 and full marathons who "ban" wearing personal music. Not like I can hear anyone trying to kick me off. Ha. But really, staffers will not kick you off all determined, sweaty in your lulu...

    Anonymous said...

    I wear them too while doing runs that ban them. But if you're a bit worried and like to try and stck close to the rules, put one earbud in after the first 3 miles. then add the second one when you think it's safe. Regardless of music, I know you are going to do just great LLA!!!! We're all behind you! You may not need the music in the start anyway. I always have a great time talking to my friends, before we all separate, or I like to listen to other people's conversations :)

    Anonymous said...

    I race long competively both runs and mountain bikes. The ban is all over but ignore it, have fun and just don't turn them up so lound you blow your ear drum.

    houndlvr67 said...

    Since it is Vancouver, they might ban the earphones, but they "may" allow "special" inhalers to make you forget all about your music ;-)...but that may be the Sea Weeds race!

    Anonymous said...

    I followed the rule during the chicago marathon, and everyone else was running with their music! Turned out to be a blessing. since then i haven't run with music. i found it so much more enjoyable without.
    I say, take the ipod, listen to it from mile one, no one is going to kick you out. but do take the ear buds out when you cross the finish line. you don't want your music drawning out all the cheers you will get from the crowd!!!

    Anonymous said...

    i hope this no medal thing isnt true, i like hanging them on my wall and figured that a half marathon from a company with so many design features in their products would create an amazing medal! also its one of those things i one day want family members to find in my house and be able to start stories with

    Anonymous said...

    If there's no medal, I'm not signing up! For the price they are charging for the entry fee it would be ridiculous if they didn't have a medal. I was just about to sign up too but now I'll wait to see if they confirm whether or not there will be a medal.

    Tessa's Mom said...

    You should try running without music - it might surprise you!!! I used to always run with music and now never do, i enjoy my runs so much more!!!

    Anonymous said...

    Almost all races and run groups ban the use of headphones. I have run 11 marathons and countless 1/2's and am always irritated by those with them in. Why run a race if you are tuned out? You miss out on meeting super cool people from all over, the crowds, being in the moment. I hope the do in force the ban.....can't wait to run this race. Lulu is awesome, Van Couver is amazing, and no medal will not replace my memories made (although I think the whole no medal thing is just gossip).

    Anonymous said...

    Suck it up and run without one. Why do so many people feel "entitled"... A race has rules, follow them. Unplug and enjoy your surroundings!
    And to those ignorant commenters, its not a "Vancouver" thing...learn a little before you bash.

    Anonymous said...

    I never thought i could get through a run without music until i tried it a year ago- and loved it!! I actually prefer it now for outdoor runs and i am the last person who would have ever said that a year ago. I feel more connected to the run and the environment without the headphones and was surprisingly not bored or sluggish at all. Try it!

    Anonymous said...

    just take it anyway. i doubt anyone would stop you or notice.

    Anonymous said...

    I am sure you could still bring your iPod and no one would say anything.

    On the other hand, I did an Ironman (all triathlons strictly enforce the no iPod rule) and made it through the long day much easier than I had planned. I always listen to music when I run and ride by myself so I was worried what I would think about during the race but it wasn't so bad. Would music make it more enjoyable, yes, but it wasn't as bad as I thought to be "unplugged."

    Katie said...

    Anon 8:24 I too am an Ironman and have to agree that it is a LONG day and you really don't miss the music when you are in it. I know they weren't allowed in ANY tris. So, I just don't even expect it. LLA- I train all the time with an iPod and never race with one. You will find that race day is such a HUGE array of distractions you may really enjoy it! The crowds, the comrads. You will be amazed at what you take in...also, you will be amazed at the stuff you learn about yourself w/out Lady Gaga on board. Have fun!

    Anonymous said...

    Always time to try something new. And who knows, they might have some interesting things set up along the course instead. Negativity is a boring read.

    Anonymous said...

    When I ran the Calgary half marathon, it stated that iPods and such were not allowed. I still brought mine, and I'm glad I did! EVERYONE was wearing theirs! I'm running the lulu half, and I will for sure be bringing my headphones!

    Anonymous said...

    No where does it say that you wont be getting a medal... Just because they don't mention it, does mean they wont have one! They have been quoted at saying that they will have a big surprise at the end.

    Anonymous said...

    I agree that the ban is silly. That said, at least you have fair warning and can adjust your routine appropriately. In reference to the earbud discussion a few entries back, it is flat out dangerous to run with any ambient noise blocking earbud in or with the music loud enough to dull ambient noise. Even in the safest neighborhood you need to be aware of your surroundings - dogs, bikes, cars, etc. can appear out of nowhere fast. I run with music, but it's turned down low enough that I can carry on a conversation without taking out an earbud. I can hear everything around me. I also run without music from time to time and it's a nice change. I suggest your try a few "quiet" runs before you decide that music is a dealbreaker. Sometimes it's nice to be alone with your thoughts and nature. Also, on race day there will be a lot going on around you and you really might not miss the music.

    Anonymous said...

    I just don't get why people have to have music pumping constantly into their ears. Especially at a race, there's enough going on to keep you amused and they often have live bands on the way round (don't know if this is the case here, if it is then respect that those people have made the effort to come and play for you). How about you just try it for once and then you won't panic next time you're out running and the iPod goes dead halfway round, if you're running in the countryside take the chance to enjoy it and give your ears a rest. (If I can train on my bike in my garage for 1.5 hours with no music then you can do this).

    Anonymous said...

    Ref previous comment...don't wish to sound mean, I think you're awesome for signing up for this event with no previous running experience. Very brave, go for it!

    Anonymous said...

    Just so you all you commenters who wear your earbuds despite the ban, if you are majorly injured in the run you will have no real legal recourse if you've blatantly disregarded the rules. I work in personal injury law and people constantly injure themselves when doing something they know they're not supposed to be doing and then attempt to sue for their medical damages/lost wages.

    Anonymous said...

    Banning ipods/etc is not just a Vancouver thing. My first full marathon in Dallas, they had a ban, although I think they subsequently lifted it in following years. I was nervous at first about not having my musical "crutch", but there is so much energy and excitement going on during a big marathon/half marathon, that you honestly don't even notice that you don't have your ipod! Not to mention that there are usually lots of bands playing, etc. And I agree with others who say that it is safer. I think you get so much more out of a race if you are not in your own little world with your headphones on.

    Anonymous said...

    I am in the DC Metro area and ever race I have ever run - be it a 5k, 10k, a fun run, a not so fun run; they ALL (yes, all) SAY you can not use headphones (it's a legal thing) but it's very rarely enforced.

    Anonymous said...

    LLA. Whatever you decide to do, it's awesome that you've signed up for this, and training for your first 1/2!!! Another tip, if you run without, put your name on your shirt. people cheering you on and actually calling out your name feels amazing, esp towards the end. I actually put my dog's name on mine. It give me an extra kick thinking of him :)

    Good Luck!!!!!! Love your blog and everything you put into it!!!!

    Anonymous said...

    I bought a Road Noise running vest and LOVE it. I can listen to music (without sneaking into the race) and can still hear everything around me.

    lululunatic said...

    Well, I plan on putting in my bluetooth ear buds, but probably in just one ear so I can hear things still. As for the medals, they did say there was a special secret for those who cross the finish line, so lets not jump the gun and assume there is no medal at all.

    If there isn't, well, lets just say the cyber monday backlash will be peanuts compared to a couple thousand pissed off lulunuts that are unrewarded after spending big bucks for a brand run, that alone should have them throwing shit at us.

    Jodi said...

    Most races do not allow ear phones because of insurance reasons. I have run many marathons & halfs and all even Boston do not allow them. People still wear them and miss out on so much!(as previous comments mention) The high and rush you get is incredible.. you don't need the music. If by any chance you are in the run to place in any category and they see you at the finish with them in you will be disqualified. Especially now that they take so many pictures and have everything on video. I am amazed when I run and "hear" people running with the music blasting and they cannot hear anything around them. I cannot imagine running Boston or any race and miss all that great cheering and energy. Have fun just enjoy the day.

    Anonymous said...

    I'm running the BMO Vancouver and, while the rules say not to wear an MP3 player, they also say you won't be disqualified for simple use. Basically, as long as you don't get into or cause an accident as a result of using an MP3 player, you'll be fine. The language on the Lulu run is much more restrictive, however. I say bring your music if you need it, and just be smart about it.

    Kristina said...

    I have run 4 marathons so far and am planning on running the lulu half which will be my first ½. I stopped running with music while training for my first marathon because the earbuds were banned. I have never been able to run with music since. I just don’t like it. I use my run as time to think and to enjoy being outside. If I ran on a treadmill which is very very rare I would probably use music but when you’re outside you simply don’t need it. During a marathon there are so many people to meet and talk to and so many people cheering you on on the sidelines that you definitely won’t miss the music. It is part of the experience. Just try it out. Its only one race. If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll know better for next time.

    Anonymous said...

    Good Grief! Lighten up everybody. This race is for fun, not to qualify for Boston. Let's celebrate the fact that we are all going to lace up our shoes and run with friends and strangers who all share something in common - loving lululemon. Bad attitudes, stay home please.

    Anonymous said...

    I checked the page and the wording is different - perhaps they listened to feedback and decided to relax their stance? It reads:
    can I wear headphones/iPod during the run?

    To ensure everyone’s safety and maximum enjoyment of Vancouver’s setting and the course route, we encourage you to run sans headphones. We promise you won’t want to miss anything that’s happening, anyways…keep those ears open!

    so not banned, but we're being
    "encourage to run sans headphones"

    Grace said...

    Are you kidding me? Running a half with no music, no earphones, no wires getting in your way, is AWESOME! In a half marathon, there is so much going on -- runners, people cheering, scenery, music... Think of running without music as liberating. And enjoy the ride!