Headsets at Grandma's Marathon
I tried clicking into the Runners & Headsets thread below and failed to gain entry. This is a slightly different variation on that theme anyway: How did the headset ban go at Grandma's Marathon? An interesting discussion on that question began on my V-Boards today. Click here if you would like to read what people are saying: http://www.trainingpeaks.com/bbs-for...29368&posts=18
In summary, the ban seemed successful. I'm not sure whether officials were confiscating headsets at the starting line or whether everybody simply paid attention to directions. Only a few runners were sighted wearing headsets. I'm not sure whether Scott Keenan will disqualify them if someone caught their numbers, although he said he would when I rode out to the start with him on Saturday. I didn't hear a lot of complaining about the ban among runners I talked to at and after the race. It seemed like a non-issue.
More and more runners are entering our sport each day, and it seems like most of them wear headsets while running. I even caught my grandson wearing one this morning! It's a matter of education, but the majority of runners need to buy into the ban for it to work.
Hal, interesting discussion over there. I think some interesting points on other safety issues (people running shoulder to shoulder several wide, the wheelers starting behind and after the half marathon at Grandma's) were also made that should maybe get some thought from RDs. However, it was a bit disconcerting to see a few argue, in essence, "instead of banning my dangerous practice, this other practice that is just as dangerous should be banned". Maybe both dangerous practices should be banned or dealt with as appropriate.
This reminds me of what we see with driving. Talk of banning cell phones while driving eventually turns to cell phone users saying, instead of banning cell phones, we should be banning reading the newspaper or brushing your teeth or shaving while driving. Well, maybe all of those things should be banned (or enforced through inattentive driving laws) in order to make the roads more safe for the rest of us.
Likewise, any dangerous practice that is not an essential part of racing should be dealt with. In some cases, bans would work. In others, maybe a change in race organization (adjust start times or finish set-ups if possible) would be more reasonable. In yet others, maybe a mass education push to encourage people, for example, to not block the entire course by running shoulder to shoulder eight wide.
I think you're absolutely right and as an RD, I try to ensure that dangerous practices don't occur. The main and most cost-effective tool available to most RDs is in the instructions contained in race communications. This is why many race applications state that strollers, headsets, pets, etc... are prohibited. The problem we get into is that we don't alway have the resources & people to perform mass education or vigorous enforcement campaigns. This is why getting other runners to use peer pressure against such practices may be the most effective method in the short term.
Originally Posted by hillrunr
Very true. In that "ideal world" the big races with the resources would take the lead with the education efforts. Just as Grandma's did. Then, the smaller races could piggyback on those education efforts, reminding runners that the same rules apply to all races for the same reasons.
Originally Posted by Trailrunnerdude
As someone who is just beginning to get his feet wet in the race management game and who will likely be helping a lot more with a small event in the coming weeks/months, can I ask what the feasibility would be of excluding runners who break rules such as the headphones rule from the results simply by telling volunteers to not take the pull tag from anyone who goes through the finish chute with headphones (I think I already see an issue with that) or to take the pull tag but turn it backwards or mark it to signify that the individual did in fact violate the rules and should be removed from the official results? Maybe there's a reason this wouldn't work but at first thought, it would seem like a simple, low cost way for the small races to enforce this rule and others like it where it would be obvious to those working the finish area that the rule was broken.
In a small, local race many of the people working the finish line are volunteers who may even know some of the runners, including those wearing headsets or doing something against the rules. Therefore, I wouldn't count on them to pull tags or otherwise disqualify runners. My suggestion is to reiterate the policy just before the start of the race and give people the opportunity to remove & put away the headsets. If you want to enforce the policy in the finishing chute, it would be best to have one of the people in charge like the race director or results team captain handle this.
That makes sense. I guess my fear is that simply stating a policy without enforcing it with disqualifications if necessary simply creates the situation we have with some now, where people know they are breaking the rules but simply don't care because there are no repercussions. Whatever enforcement angle we take, I'll consider placing myself in charge of it, both so I know nobody is playing favorites and so I can take the heat from the runners if complaints come up.
With this race taking place on an open course and twice crossing traffic on a state highway with sometimes lax traffic control, this issue is of significant concern to me because I wouldn't want to see anyone get hit by a car they couldn't hear approaching from behind.
Your concern is well-justified. One thing I would suggest in this case is giving bullhorns to the volunteers who will be stationed at that highway crossing as course marshals so that they can overpower the volume from the headsets that any would-be headphone wearing runners would have.
Originally Posted by hillrunr
We used bullhorns at a race to direct runners at the finish line of a small race to direct them into the right chute -10K or 5K -- and believe it, some of the runners wearing headsets still didn't hear the bullhorn directions when the bullhorn was only 10 feet away from the finishing runners!
well, that just goes to show how hazardous to wear them - if you can't hear someone yelling at you through a bullhorn, you probably won't hear a car's horn.
No Complaints Here!
I have run the half marathon at Grandma's the last 3 years... The wheelchairs have pasted me near the 10 or 11 mile mark each year. (Meaning they had hundreds of people to pass in the next 3 miles) In the past no matter how hard we yelled that the wheelchairs were coming you could see the few people with headphones on not moving over to let them pass! To watch those wheelchairs swirve at the last minute going SO FAST when a runner never heard their (or all the other people) yell, I thought he was going to wipe out.
This year... not a problem. The wheelchairs came by at mile 11. The biker yelled wheelchairs coming. ALL the runners for as far as I could see moved left out of the way. No problem. An ambulance passed me at one point, no problems.
I usually run around a lake on a pedestian path running to my ipod like many people. I'm not crossing traffic, their is a separate path for bike. I feel safe and like having music most days.
For a big race I have no problems giving up my music. It's their race, their rules, their insurance, and my safety. I think many runners argree and that's why it wasn't a big problem!