While browsing around runwashington.com I came across this rule modification regarding usage of headphones. From what I gathered, it's up to the race director to decide if headphones should be allowed in non-Championship races.
Any thoughts? Well, in hopes of attracting traffic to the blog, I'll give you mine. I normally don't pay much attention to whether or not races I run in are "championship" or not. I do know the Ukrops Mounment Avenue 10K in Richmond is the US 10K National Championship race, and am generally aware if there's prize money for the top runners. But I don't give it much thought beyond that. I'm a realist, while I have improved my running tremendously in the last 10 months, I ain't winning any prize money unless the first few hundred or thousand runners, depending on race size, all get disqualified.
My view is generally, don't be over the top in enforcing the rule, but headphones in large races should be a no-no. That's for safwety reasons, when you are sharing the course with several thousand runners, the chances of someone not hearing a fellow runner or volunteer yell something that could prevent a collision because their MP# players are on too high, you know the drill. Yes, having music can help you get into a running grove, especially on flat, relatively uninteresting stretches of land (Hi, Hains Point!). But I don't want to be involved in, or especially be the cause of, a collision because someone couldn't hear someone, zoned out, you name it.
Smaller races with less participants, usually no big deal. I admit to wearing headphones during one race in Alexandria last year, and have carried my MP3 player with me but turned it off during a couple others. And I would be very tempted to having music with me during a half marathon or (gulp) marathon, as it could really help stay focused during tough stretches. But I would not wear them if I felt my safety and other's safety would be compromised. Most very large races such as the Army Ten Miler have absolute bans, which makes total sense. Or any races where racers, other runners, and bikers share the path.