Should MP3 players be banned at races?

Catch up with what you've been saying in our forums, then stand up and be counted in our interactive poll


Posted: 23 June 2008

Line up at the start of a race plugged into your iPod and you may well find yourself being asked to ditch both the headphones and your PB-promoting playlist under event-specific rules prohibiting the use of MP3 players.

But are race organisers right to enforce such a ban? Here's what you've been saying in our Sound vs Silence debate...

The argument for…

  • MP3 players are so anti-social. Part of racing is about being part of a community, and headphones get in the way – exiled claret

  • I marshalled at a road race a few months back. I was attempting to give instructions to a runner who was wearing earphones, but she just looked blankly at me, stepped off the footpath and narrowly missed being hit by a car. If you choose to wear your MP3 player on a training run, then so be it. But if you are in an environment where you may end up impeding another runner or road user, or perhaps even endangering your life, best leave it at home! Born2Run

  • As a race director we have made the decision to ban MP3 players on health and safety grounds. People wearing them are an absolute menace - they are so zoned out they are completely unaware of people around them. I have lost count of the times runners have cut across me or even stopped dead to change a tune or fiddle with the wires, causing me to trip – Current Mrs F

  • I went out of my way to rearrange my schedule so that I could travel to support a friend who was running a 10K. I planted myself at three different points on the course and cheered wildly every time she went past. She didn't spot me in the crowd, and with music blaring in her ears she didn't hear me either. I felt totally let down. I'd gone all that way and got soaked to the skin only to be gazumped by an iPod – PoppyRed

  • I prefer not to wear my iPod for races but that's more to do with soaking up the atmosphere and being open to conversations with other runners rather than for health and safety reasons. JohnnyBlaze

  • I never race to music, especially at mass-participation events. I believe that it would be a distraction from focusing totally on performance or the event, disrespectful to others and not in the spirit of why I've turned up to the race – straycelt

  • A point made by a race commentator: he said he put a lot of effort into identifying runners from the number lists so he could name-check them and give them a boost as they approach the finish line. Many couldn't hear him because of their music – Muttley

  • Running is a sport, and an Olympic sport at that. I wonder how many MP3 players will be worn this summer at the Olympics? Please, if you consider yourself an athlete, act like one. I would like to see what would happen if an elite runner turned up with an iPod to the London Marathon. He'd probably be disqualified, but could make a very legitimate claim that the organisers allow hundreds of runners to wear them, so why can't he? – Faithfulred

The argument against…

  • I can understand how frustrating it is in a race when you are trying to overtake a person whose MP3 player is blasting away but I think at sensible background levels people should be able to listen to music if they wish – Bambi

  • I really have to wear an MP3 player in races - I find the sound of my heavy breathing totally off-putting. Surely wearing them in races is a common-sense issue? If you wear one you have the responsibility of sticking to a basic set of guidelines. I don't expect conversation while I'm racing - I just want to do my own thing without the worry of social interaction. It's hard work talking and running! – spinkletoes

  • In a busy race I wear one headphone and then take it out when the crowds are shouting encouragement, especially towards the end. Music really helps me to pick up the pace. I have done plenty of races with music and plenty without - the difference is noticeable. – GymAddict

  • No-one will stop me running with headphones because that’s how I like to run. It can’t just be me that doesn’t actually want to have an in-depth conversation when I’m racing? As for being less aware and careless, I take more care because I am sensible enough to know that I can't hear. I always check to see if I’m cutting people up in races. What about those people who are too busy looking at their watches or too busy chatting to notice me coming? This happens a lot, and it’s just as bad, but they won’t outlaw watches or talking – Peter Crisp

  • Surely it is up to the individual to weigh up the safety risks against their wish to listen to music on a run? I ran my first marathon this year and took my MP3 player in case I started to feel low. Around the 16-mile point I did indeed feel pretty low, at which point I wore my iPod and feel it helped me with the final 10 miles – topcat455

  • Just because someone is wearing an earpiece doesn't mean they are listening to anything. I find it hard to see my watch when running so I rely on pressing a button that tells me my mileage, pace and time. If iPods were banned at a race this would put me at a disadvantage as I would find it harder to pace myself. – postie postie

It's not too late to share your opinions on this contentious topic - simply hop onto our Sound vs Silence thread to get your views heard.


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