6 May

Now Hear This…

Headphones ImageEd Phones simply could not understand why he was disqualified after a personal best in his local half marathon. Perhaps someone should have told him about the IAAF/UK Athletics Competition Rules 2016-18 regarding the use of headphones.

From time to time the governing bodies update the Rules for Competition. This has recently happened with the publication of the new International Association of Athletics Federations/UK Athletics Rules that came into force in April 2016.

The relevant section is Rule 240, UKA Supplement 5, which reads: ‘The wearing of headphones or similar devices (other than those medically prescribed) is not permitted in races on any single carriageway road that is not wholly closed to traffic. This restriction does not apply to races held on dual carriageways, provided that there are clear, structured separations between the separate carriageways’.

This means that all types of headphones (except hearing aids) are banned from all road races, except large events where the roads are completely closed to all traffic. The rules apply equally to elite athletes, club runners and those who run purely for fun. Races not held on roads are exempt, and parkruns are outside the scope of UKA Rules as they are not races.

None of which impressed Ed Phones, who shouted: “Kasabian isn’t just for Premier League champion footballers, you know. How am I supposed to maintain 4:36 per kilometre pace without ‘Running Battle’ in me ears?”

A recent poll in runABC revealed that 49% of runners prefer to hear what’s going on when they run; 31% reckon they can’t run without music and 18% only use music as an occasional boost. Obviously we are completely neutral on the subject but the best advice we can offer is that if you enjoy music while running keep the volume low for safety reasons and if you are competing you must comply with all relevant rules.  

UK Athletics Rules are available here


  1. Catherine Green said...

    This is such nanny-state twaddle, people should be able to make their own responsible (or 'irresponsible') decisions. Music is a key part of many peoples running routines, banning it is ridiculous.

  2. Apc said...

    Catherine, you should be entitled to make your own decisions about your safety but not mine! When you wear headphones its more difficult and sometimes impossible to hear traffic, other runners and race marshall instructions. In short it can be very dangerous for both you and other runners.
    Running is often a solitary activity for many of us. A race is a great time to be with others who have trained like you, who share your interest. Its a shame to shut yourself away behind a wall of music.
    Take off your headphones and enjoy a great social and safe event!

  3. Julie said...

    I can hear marshals cars etc with headphones on there's a button called volume control? I struggle running due to other people gasping for breath running behind me a little bit of music can distract from this a bit