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Guidelines for Headphones, Strollers & Dogs

RRCA Guidelines on Headphones in Events

The Road Runners Club of America does not usually dictate rules to our members; we offer guidelines on general safety that race directors and club leaders are encouraged to adopt as guidelines, rules or policies for their local events.

Since the mid 1980’s the RRCA has maintained a long-standing guideline against the use of headphones in running events and group training runs. This is a safety precaution and a risk management responsibility for race directors and run leaders. As such, race directors and group run leaders are encouraged to ban or strongly discourage the use of headphones in races and group runs.

Advising participants to leave headphones and audio devices at home or in the car is part of the risk management responsibility of a race director. Many participants do not understand or respect the awesome responsibility a race director shoulders to ensure the safety of every single participant in an event. Respecting an event director’s choice to prohibit headphones in an event or a group run is a shared responsibility of every participant to ensure the safety of all runners, the future success of the event, and the sport as a whole.

The RRCA understands that enforcement of a headphone ban or discouraging headphone use can be a challenge for race directors, especially for races that exceed several thousand runners. Because of this, the use of headphones in events and group runs are not excluded from the RRCA insurance policy. This means that if a race director promotes that headphones are not allowed or their use is discouraged in the event, but a participant shows up, runs the race in headphones, and has or creates an incident, the race director is still entitled to have the insurance company fund the defense or negotiate settlement in a legal case.

While the insurance policy does not exclude headphones, and the RRCA does not have an outright ban on their use during events, this does not mean that RRCA members taking advantage of the group insurance program can actively encourage runners to run while wearing headphones. That practice could jeopardize the integrity of the insurance program that benefits thousands of events and group runs every year.

On January 17, 2009, the RRCA Board of Directors met in open session to discuss the practice of active promotion of headphone friendly events. Under the advisement of the RRCA Insurance broker, and on behalf of the insurance underwriter, the RRCA Board of Directors unanimously passed a policy stating that RRCA members taking advantage of the group liability and Directors & Officers insurance program may not actively promote that headphones are welcome at RRCA insured events. Meaning RRCA members utilizing the insurance program should not engage in marketing campaigns that invite people to and run in events or group runs while wearing headphones.

To assist members, the following information outlines sample language that may be included in a race entry form or on a website relating to headphone use at an event:

Sample Language I – Voluntary Banning of Headphone Use

The use of personal music devices is strictly prohibited on course at this race. (Include your own language explaining your enforcement plan).

Sample Language II – Race Guideline Against Headphone Use

The use of personal music devices is strongly discouraged at this race. To enjoy all that our race has to offer and for the safety of all participants, (your race name) encourages a headphone-free environment during the running of (your race name).

We believe your race experience and those around you will be greatly enhanced by leaving the headphones at home or in the car. Running headphone-free allows opportunities to develop camaraderie with your fellow runners and to enjoy everything the race has to offer. Plus, volunteers and spectators will be on course cheering you on and providing directions to help get you to the finish line.

Runner safety has always been, and will continue to be, a top priority for our event. Please be mindful of the other participants and respect the race personnel to ensure a safe and enjoyable race for everyone.

RRCA Guidelines On Baby Jogging Strollers in Races

The Road Runners Club of America voted at its annual business meeting on June 10, 1989, to recommend a guideline against the use of baby joggers or strollers in road races.

The Road Runners Club of America strongly recommends against the participation of baby strollers/joggers in road races and against race organizers creating baby stroller divisions. The reason for this recommendation is that the inclusion of strollers in races increases the potential for injury to race participants and children.

The RRCA has no objection to and does not discourage the safe and prudent use of strollers or baby joggers in individual training situations. If allowed in a race, stroller or baby joggers or similar devices should be started in the back of the runners and walkers.

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