iPods and marathon runners are still on shaky ground. Kelly McClure had a good run at the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon on Sunday, coming in unexpectedly in fifth place. Instead of basking in the achievement and the $500 prize, McClure was disqualified for wearing an iPod.
Her journey shows how much ground the iPod may still have to cover before becoming accepted at all competitive races.
Marathon organizers nulled her win and the prize for wearing an iPod – citing a USA Track & Field (USATF) rule that forbids prize money being awarded to runners who wear iPods or any other electronic devices.
In 2007, the USATF banned iPods “ensure safety and to prevent runners from having a competitive edge” but then repealed the rule in 2009, leaving it up to individual marathons to decide for themselves.
Organizers of the Green Bay first cited the USATF ban for disqualifying McClure then had a “doh!” moment when they realized the repeal.
Race director Sean Ryan did not agree with the USATF rule and said the organization was punishing athletes who have a good day.
“She had no anticipation of finishing even in the top 10,” Ryan said of McClure. “Last year the top 10 female marathon runners here in Green Bay all finished under three hours, so she had every right to expect to not even finish in the overall standings. “Unfortunately, she had a great day.”
McClure said that she put her iPod in at mile 16 when she started to run against the wind. She wasn’t even aware she had finished in the top five until told by officials after the race.
Is using an iPod in a marathon an unfair advantage?