FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mark Winitz
Win-It!z Sports Public Relations
Tel: (650) 948-0618
NAPA VALLEY MARATHON ADOPTS USATF BAN ON
PERSONAL ELECTRONIC DEVICES
Unsafe Use by Runners is Primary Target
NAPA, Calif. - May 1, 2007 - The Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon
announced today that it has adopted a USA Track & Field (USATF) rule that
prohibits the use of personal electronic devices such as portable music
players in the competition area of its sanctioned long distance running
races. Race organizers said that the Napa Valley Marathon, a sanctioned
USATF race, will enforce the rule starting with its 30th annual event
scheduled for Sunday, March 2, 2008.
The new USATF rule (see below for full text) will be printed on entry
forms and race packets for all 2008 Napa Valley Marathon scheduled
events. Additionally, participants in the Napa Valley Marathon will be
advised against bringing personal electronic devices with headphones to
the race course. Athletes carrying these devices will be asked to
surrender them to a race official prior to the race. Surrendered devices
will be returned to their owners following the race. Participants who
violate the headphone ban risk disqualification from the race by a
certified USATF Referee. The names of disqualified participants will not
appear in final race results.
"We totally support USATF's ban on the dangerous practice of headphone
use in road races," said Rich Benyo, who co-directs the Napa Valley
Marathon. "USATF makes the rules and regulations of our sport. As a
sanctioned USATF race, we are committed to follow them. Plus our title
sponsor, Kaiser Permanente, is committed to preventative personal health.
We believe this action contributes to the personal health and safety of
USATF is the national governing body for track and field, race walking,
and long distance running in the U.S. Last December, at USATF's annual
meeting, over 1,000 federation delegates approved a rules package that
included amended rule 144.3(b) which prohibits the use of portable
electronic devices by participants competing in long distances running
races. Previously, the rule applied to USATF sanctioned events conducted
on the track, but it merely strongly suggested the prohibition for road
and cross country distance events.
The rule amendment came in response to a recent increase in use of music
players by recreational runners in organized running competitions, and on
open roads in general. Increasingly, this practice, for which the
listener typically uses headphones, is viewed as unsafe on roadways. In
March, 2006, Ashlyn Dyer, a 27-year-old female runner who was wearing a
portable musical player while on an early-morning workout, was struck
from behind and killed by a hit-and-run driver on a road in San
The USATF rules package contained the following justification for the
The huge proliferation of MP3 players and other audio devices using
headphones by road race participants constitutes a safety hazard. These
devices can prevent runners from hearing critical instructions from
course monitors, police, and other race officials. Many race directors
are reluctant to prohibit these devices in their races for fear of losing
entrants. A firm prohibition by USATF will make it easier for these
directors to justify bans on these devices in their races.
Earlier this month, Grandma's Marathon (Duluth, Minn.) announced that it
will apply the electronic device/headphone restriction for its June 16,
2007 race composed of more than 9,500 runners. A number of top
international track and field meets also prohibit headphones. The Payton
Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University contains the
following in its instructions to athletes and coaches: "No headphones or
radios will be permitted inside Cobb Track and Angell Field. These
devices present a safety risk for everyone..."
"While there have been great advancements in portable music devices,
wearing them on the run is simply not the safest choice," said Jean
Knaack, the Executive Director of Road Runners Club of America. "We
recommend against their use because they limit a runner's ability to be
aware of their surroundings, especially things going on behind them and
in their periphery."
The Road Runners Club of America is a non-profit organization consisting
of over 800 running clubs and 175,000 members across the United States.
The organization's safety guidelines for runners warn against wearing
headsets while on the run. The Napa Valley Marathon has served as the
RRCA's National Marathon Championship since 1998.
Benyo advises runners to "please leave your headphones at home on race
day to avoid inconvenience and help us make a safe marathon."
For more information about the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, go