Ragnar: no headphones

Update: Ragnar announced Thursday that the headphone ban has been lifted, but the volume must be such that participants can hear traffic and race officials while running.

During the Wasatch Back team captain meeting Tuesday, Ragnar officials dropped a bomb on the 1,050 teams participating: headphones are no longer allowed.

That means the personal music devices many runners use as their beloved sidekick will have to be left at home.

Ragnar’s updated race bible explains it as such: “In an overnight relay, roads are not closed during the race and participants are running through the night. This format requires that all runners be alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. Wearing personal music devices causes distractions and the inability to hear what is going on around the runner. “

I can understand why they’re doing it. In just five months, Ragnar had two people killed during their races. During the October Las Vegas relay, a Kamas man was hit by a drunk driver. And at the February Del Sol run in Arizona, a Phoenix high school student was hit while crossing the street to give a team member water.

Ragnar’s made extensive changes since. All teams are required to attend a 15-minute safety training course, every team member (whether running or not) has to wear a reflective safety vest during from 7:30 p.m.-6:30 a.m., teams must carry orange flags when crossing the street, runners are required to wear blinking lights during nighttime runs and some legs of the race are designated “non-support,” meaning vans are not allowed to stop on the road to give runners water.

Failure to comply leads to a “three strikes, you’re out” policy.

But no headphones? I’d argue too extreme. Why not just one ear bud, or ban the headphones only on the night runs?

Ragnar’s Facebook page has been exploding with mixed comments from runners. Running purists say it’s the best way to run, as you’re less distracted, can focus on your body and can actually hear what’s going on around you. Others say music is what gets them through their runs, the rule was announced too close to the June 18-19 race and that the new rule sucks the fun out of the relay.

(For the record, the Hood to Coast relay — the father of all relays — implemented this same rule last year. The Iron Man and many marathons do the same.)

I’m going music-less for the first time in years on my run tonight. I’m kind of excited to get lost in the scenery rather than the music. If it’s too rough, I figured I’ll be the annoying runner with her own mini personal boombox and blast my music out of a pair of <a href="
http://www.safesoundsports.com/product.html”>these.

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