Runners, don’t stop for a ‘selfie’ and cause chaos

2013-09-18 00:00

THE majority of Comrades Marathon runners are likely to continue bending the rules and taking the odd “selfie” while making their way through the gruelling 87 km route between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

This was the view of race director Johan van Staden after he responded light-heartedly to an incident that occurred in February at the Hong Kong Marathon, when a woman taking a photograph of herself at the start of the race caused a pile-up after she dropped her mobile phone.

The incident has now caused race organisers to consider banning their runners from taking photographs of themselves at the race in the future, after reports suggested that there were in fact a number of runners stopping to take photographs and causing congestion.

But Comrades runners appear to be safe for now, as long as they are nowhere near the front of the field. While a runner could technically be disqualified for using an electronic device on the course, lenience has been shown in the past towards the majority of runners.

“We actually have it stated on every entry form that no electronic devices are allowed on the route during race day,” Van Staden told The Witness yesterday. “Obviously, it is difficult to carry it out completely, but we are certainly strict when it comes to the frontrunners.”

Van Staden said that one of the major reasons that phones were banned among title contenders was to avoid runners having knowledge of what was happening elsewhere on the route.

“From a competitive point of view, runners cannot know what is happening in front of them or behind them,” he said. “We are very strict in this regard.”

There was also a concern over runners playing music on iPods and mobile phones.

“When runners use ear phones to listen to music, they cannot hear what is happening around them and that becomes concern from a safety perspective,” added Van Staden.

According to Van Staden, runners exercising etiquette on the course by getting out of the way if they needed to stop for any reason would avoid a problem such as the one experienced in Hong Kong.

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