Music is a great motivator, especially if you are running the long and lonely 26.2 miles of a marathon. The national organization that governs running, USA Track & Field, has banned the use of headphones and portable MP3 players, like my beloved Nano, at all official races. The ban was designed to ensure safety and to prevent runners motivated by the driving force of music from having a competitive edge. Some large marathons have threatened to disqualify runners for wearing headphones, but that did not happen at the recent Marine Corps Marathon last weekend in Washington, D.C. The NYC marathon strongly discourages headphones but will not enforce the ban.
One of the issues at stake is insurance because rates rise substantially if race sponsors allow the use of headphones. Another issue is awareness (hearing other runners and announcements) and safety (listening to your own body). However, the face of the typical marathoner has changed drastically in the last 20 years. More and more "normal" folks are racing, and those regular joes often feel they need their music.
So what do you think about that ban – is it cool or not?