USA Track & Field, the national governing body for running, this year banned the use of headphones and portable audio players like iPods at its official races. The new rule was created to ensure safety and to prevent runners from having a competitive edge....
Elite runners do not listen to music in races because they need to concentrate on their own bodies and hear their competitors, and some die-hard, old-school runners follow suit. Those runners — purists who prefer the sound of the crowd or their own breathing over, say, “Fergalicious” — cheered the headphone ban.
But for competitors who use music as a motivational tool while training and competing, the ban was frustrating, as if the race directors were forcing them to run barefoot.Though I would not be against race directors forcing runners to run barefoot, I do choose not to wear headphones. I am not elite, so I guess I am a "die-hard old school" runner. Headphones and other electronics annoy me - I wind up playing too much with the music and the device, so I loose focus on the run. I prefer to focus on the run or on my own thoughts and perceptions.
The USATF has a history of making rules and supporting events that favor elite runners. This rule is part of USATF's tendency towards discouraging participation for more recreational runners. Unfortunately, monopolies can do that and still thrive. Fortunately, people who want to run wired can easily ignore the rule. Just pay your yearly USATF membership fee so you can play in the streets with the elites and everybody is happy. :)