Road Runners Club of America

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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.

In 2009, 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 or training runs. Meaning RRCA members utilizing the insurance program may not engage in marketing campaigns that invite people to run in their 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:

No HeadphonesSample 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).

Post the No Headphones icon on your event website.

besmart.headphonesSample 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.

no.strollersRRCA Guidelines On Baby Jogging Strollers in Races

First and foremost, the RRCA recommends that events clearly outline age restrictions for events, especially events that exceed 5K as part of managing stroller use in events.  The RRCA strongly recommends against the use of baby strollers/joggers by participants in road races if the child does not meet the age restriction outlined for the event. We discourage race organizers from creating baby stroller/jogger divisions or events. The reason for this recommendation is that the inclusion of strollers in races increases the potential for injury to race participants and children.  Under no circumstance should children be allowed to participate in an RRCA insured event on a scooter, roller or inline skates, or on a bike. 

The RRCA has no objection to and does not discourage the safe and prudent use of strollers or baby joggers in individual training situations, but we discourage them in group training runs/programs. If allowed in a race, strollers or baby joggers or similar devices should be started at the back of the runners and walkers. An additional waiver accepting the responsibility for injury up to death of a child in a stroller should be signed by a participant pushing a stroller. 

For events that allow for adaptive wheelchairs for people with disabilities, a waiver should be signed for the person pushing the wheelchair along with a waiver accepting responsibility for injury up to death of a person in the wheelchair.  If the age of the person in the wheelchair is below the age restriction for the event, then the age restriction and a no stroller policy would apply.  For example a 3 year old would not be eligible to be pushed in a stroller/wheelchair at a marathon if the event has an age restriction of 16 or 18 and older for all participants. 

no.dogsGuidelines for Dogs at/or in Events

The Road Runners Club of America strongly recommends that group run leaders and event organizers adopt a "no dogs/pets allowed" policy for anyone participating in group training runs or organized events.  Furthermore, event organizers should have a "no dogs/pets allowed" policy for volunteers, spectators, and participants in the start and finish areas of an event.  Only service dogs should be allowed at an event with a participant or spectator, and an event organizer may ask if a dog is a service animal.  Learn more about service animal rights

Yes, people have been bitten by dogs at events.  Yes, good dogs have had skirmishes with other dogs at events resulting in injury to either the dogs and/or their owners.  Yes, irresponsible dog owners have created unsafe situations for others at events.  In crowded, unfamiliar places, even well-mannered dogs can become unpredictable and protective of their owner.  Dog owners that disregard "no dogs allowed" rules and show up with dogs dramatically increase the liability exposure for event organizers, especially if an event organizer does not remove them from the event or the event's common spaces (start/finish area).

Event organizers should consult with their permitting entity, as many municipalities prohibit dogs/pets, leashed or unleashed, from being allowed in events or on city property utilized as common space for the event (start/finish areas).  Event organizers should do as much as possible to enforce a "no dogs/pets allowed" policy, especially if it is required in the event permit.

If event organizers wish to have a dog run event, they should require anyone running in a dog run to sign a highly specific waiver that clearly states the participant takes personal responsibility for their dog and assumes all responsibility for any legal claims that may arise from the actions of their dog.  Under no circumstance should young children (age 12 year old or younger) be allowed to participate in a dog run organized by an RRCA member. 

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