Headphone Use Guidelines

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. Race directors and group run leaders should not promote headphone use in races and group runs.

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.

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.

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.

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).

no.headphonesPost the No Headphones icon on your event website.

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.

Baby Stroller Guidelines for Events

no.strollersRRCA 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.

A stroller is different from an adaptive chair for required for an adaptive athlete to participate in an event.  Review the information in the Safe Event Guidelines:  Special Considerations for Challenged Athletes for information on working with wheelchair athletes.

For the purpose of a stroller policy, RRCA defines it as a device used to push an able-bodied child for convenience sake.  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 does not discourage the safe and prudent use of strollers in individual training situations, but we discourage them in group training runs/programs.

If allowed in a race, strollers 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.

No Pet Guidelines for Events/Group Runs

no.dogsRRCA strongly recommends that group run leaders and event organizers adopt a “no pets allowed” policy.  Event organizers should have a “no 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. 

icon link arrow left purpleDog 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).

icon check 1 1Event 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 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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