10.22.2013

Should Hydration Vests be Banned?

I am not one to intentionally stir up trouble. In fact, you may often find me trying to keep the peace. To see
an argument from both sides. As I sit here writing this post I am still trying my best to do just that. But I can't sit quietly and not voice my opinion to the world because for this, I feel strongly.

Let's start at the beginning. I started my day not only with my daily run but with reading some of the articles in my most recent copy of Runner's World. I stake claim on this magazine and must read it from cover to cover before handing it over to dear hubby and yes, I read front to back. No skipping ahead.

Today I stumbled on multiple stories centered on the New York Marathon and that makes perfect sense with race day being just around the corner. And it is big with what happened last year post-Sandy and post-Boston. I get that. I understand any and all concerns. Truly, I do. But one sentence stuck in my mind and came back to me at work.

Hydration vests are prohibited. Really? Prohibited? I must have read that wrong. I checked the New York Marathon's website and no, I didn't read it wrong. Prohibited. 

With a marathon just around the corner myself it got me wondering if this will be a new trend. I checked the Honolulu Marathon website and there was no talk on prohibited hydration vests or anything along those lines. But I couldn't release a sigh of relief just yet. There was still doubt. I emailed them but haven't heard back yet and no, I don't expect an instant reply.

When a co-worker came in the prohibited vest came back to my mind. I told her about it and she firmly told me I would just need to find another way to run. My response "No!". She said I had to and I adamantly stated "No I don't! I'm not running New York!". She tried to get me to see things from a safety perspective from a post-Boston standpoint and I firmly stated my case. I didn't see it as a necessity. I still don't. Why not just have runners with hydration vests go through a security check prior to entering the corrals? Why should a runner have to race without their fuel? A runner has done no wrong, why should they pay a price? She saw my points and I should add, she is not a runner but supports me immensely in my crazy racing endeavors.

I wasn't always a hydration vest runner but even before my vest days I would hope I would see things the same way. But now that I have run in a vest I can't imagine not doing a long run in my vest. I recently raced the Maui Marathon in my CamelBak and it was awesome. I had my fuel every step of the way. I had room to carry my applesauce to go and my VegaSport Endurance Gels. I had my phone with tunes stowed safely in a pocket. My hands were free. The weight of my fuel was balanced well on my body. I didn't have to adjust to taking in fuel I don't want to ingest in my quest to be more natural in my fueling strategies. And I had my drink when I wanted my drink. Does it make me uncaring or selfish to not want to run any other way?

I know some may argue I could carry a handheld water bottle and wear a fuel belt. True but I have tried fuel belts and they chafe me like crazy. They bounce continuously on my hips and annoy me. My vest holds two handheld bottles full of my preferred sports drink prepared just the way I like it. That lasts me about 20 miles. One bottle makes things tougher and no, I don't have family or friends stationed along the course to hand me new bottles of my drink. I am running/racing solo. What I don't carry I don't have. Period.

I get wanting to keep things safe but are runners and spectators safer with runners not wearing hydration vests? Isn't there a better way to promote safety? Is this really a necessity and an item that should be banned? I argue not. Personally, I would be willing to go through a security check point to ensure I am carrying safe fuel and water. I would even be willing to fill my vest's bladder with water and add my VegaSport Hydrator right there and then with someone watching over me if that is what it took.

And regardless if this prohibition will personally impact me on race day or not, I felt so passionately about this matter that I couldn't stand by and not say a word.

So tell me, what do you think?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for friends that will listen to me rant and rave even if they will never see my point.
Daily Affirmation: I have the power to speak my mind.

32 comments:

  1. Please note: I checked my email just minutes after posting this. Hydration vests are perfectly fine at the Honolulu Marathon. Now I can do that huge sigh of relief!

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  2. I agree with you. Isn't it more dangerous especially in the warmer months, to deny a runner the hydration they have trained with, forcing them to either carry less or rely on course handouts? I'm totally with you, I don't mind increased security checks if it means a safe environment for everyone. At least you'll have your trusty pack at Honolulu :) Which one do you carry? It looks awesome!
    Shushkat

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    1. Aloha Shona,

      It is the CamelBak Marathoner Vest and I LOVE it! I am still shocked that it doesn't bug me an iota with just a bra top underneath.

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  3. Oh man… you are stirring the bees hive with this one huh? I understand, only because of Boston. I understand why, even if I do not agree with it. It is not different from a spectator having an even larger backpack at any point on the course, walking out on the course and causing chaos. I think it is an over-reaction, but I understand.

    This past summer in SF, they had a limit on the size (which was ridiculously small). I gambled and went in with my "over-sized" one which was the normal size, looks similar to yours and had no issues. We did go through security and they checked it, and all was good. Again, I understand, even if I agree with you.

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    1. I did realize I may be stirring things up but I felt strong enough, and am able to see both sides, and really wanted to see what others thought as well.

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  4. That is a tough one! I see where they are coming from after Boston. Safety and security need to be over the top BUT what's next? Sadly, if someone really wanted to do harm, they'd find a way no matter what was banned.

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    1. I was going to comment something very similar. I understand that they want to be careful and give people a sense of security, but if someone is crazy enough, they will find a way to hurt others.

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  5. I have to say that I agree with you, it is a little over the top. Just like Angela has said, if someone wants to do damage, there is no restriction on what spectators can have on the side of the course so what exactly is prohibiting the vests doing? Good luck in your marathon, hope you ace it!

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    1. Thanks. I am trying my best to really nail my long runs and working on race fueling strategies. Hoping those two combined will be my secret to success!

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  6. I agree with you. I think why not require an extra security check? I'd much rather deal with that than not have my camelbak w/me :)

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  7. I too see both sides. However, banning them can be a runners nightmare especially if you trained for an event with it and know what your body likes vs what MIGHT be available on the course. I have seen some courses say that they would allow fuel belts to still allow runners to carry their own fuel. My stomach is not a fan of a couple different versions of Gatorade and Cytomax, so it makes me sick each time I have tried to use what is provided on the course.

    I just did Myrtle Beach Mini and went to their Facebook page and Tweeted them to ask about hydration packs as well as Divas San Juan. They both got back to me via social media.

    I would also get to a race earlier to have the extra screening. Heck, I probably had to go through more screenings on my flight to the location anyway.

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    1. I totally understand the stomach thing. My body truly seems to prefer the product line from VegaSport and that isn't on courses. Even if I could do Gatorade, it was only a few flavors I could stomach and I tend to make my sports drinks weaker than recommended. Running in a vest has made fueling so much easier for me to stomach (pun intended!).

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  8. I had never heard of such a thing until I saw your post! I get where the security concern could come from but why can't they just search people in vests? People could hid contraband in all kinds of belts and packs, not just vests. Shouldn't they be searching everyone? I've just started using a vest for trail running and I can see the appeal. What a dumb rule...

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    1. Vests must be a complete blessing on trails!

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  9. Marine Corp marathon just announced a few weeks ago that they were prohibited so many people that trained with them don't get to use them. I completely agree that there should be an additional security check. Runner's shouldn't be punished!

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    1. That last minute switch in fueling strategies for race day can be so hard.

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  10. These bans are nuts and due to laziness on the part of organizers / authorities. If you must, require an extra check, but tired of "safety measures" that don't increase safety for anyone...

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    1. I am completely for extra security checks. That I can support 100%! I have no problem showing up earlier either.

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  11. I don't understand why they couldn't have decided on this prior to sign up. I live in Boston, so I totally get why there are extra precautions, but Boston had happened prior to registration for NYC, so I don't understand why they couldn't have mentioned these things before that. Now that most people are towards the end of their training it could be hard for a lot of people.

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    1. I agree. I am hoping that those registered learned about the restrictions earlier than I did.

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  12. I was worried about that aswell at Portland but they did allow. I am with you, and would be willing to have my pack tested at the corral.

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    1. I am so glad Portland allowed hydration vests! Congrats again on your marathon success!

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  13. Thanks for your comments and I love hearing what other races are allowing or not allowing.

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  14. I can't believe what the world is coming to. The action of a couple of extremists means that a whole ton of runners can't run with the hydration of their choice? That's crazy.

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    1. I know. I am always telling daughter safety is a priority but there is still a point where things done in terms of promoting safety seem a bit excessive. But then I am telling my daughter a 1,000 times to not wiggle so much on our tall kitchen table chairs and to stay on her bum....perhaps a chair seatbelt? And no, I would never do that. Just saying.....

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  15. Total Pot Stirring. :-) In fact I may need to write something now. Since it has been sticking in my craw for a month or so since I first read about MCM and NY Mara instituting this REDIC policy. I will staunchly say I think race organizers are over-reactive and instituting a knee jerk policy that makes little sense. WHEN has a fellow runner harmed others WITH a hydration pack. On more than one occasion I have been HELPED by someone with extra water in their vest. . Sure i have been beside someone who smells or someone who so rudely snotted on me. (GROSS!!!!) PLEASE! LIKE Char (above me just said) races are now going to take away our hydration choice due to the action of some extremists? FINE test my water. Inspect my pack. But I am very sensitive and cant drink just any hydration product. Instituting said policy so close to a race is also rather jerky (i can think of stronger words)....I am surprized at my very strong reaction to this....since I am pretty laid back. I just wonder. They inspecting all the spectators? They putting them through the ringer. I have NEVER been harmed by a runner. But I have seen injuries occur because of cars running red lights, and runners trying to avoid stupid spectators. Seems to me that decisions like this are pandering to those who want to appear that they are taking safety an security to the utmost. I sound like a crabbpants...but I just think decisions like this are not even
    helpful. THANKS for a great article!!!

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    1. Aloha Tina,

      We never know what will make us want to stand up and take action.

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  16. Wow, I didn't realize they were going there (haven't read my runner's world yet!). I only wear my pack for trail races, but it's a dang good idea to wear it for the roads too. If someone really wanted to, they could hide explosives in a handheld bottle too. Part of the joy of the running community is that we trust each other. It wasn't a runner who bombed other runners (not that that couldn't happen, but still). Let the runners have their water!

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    1. Agreed and I thought I was always the last one to read my Runner's World!

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  17. I was shocked to read about that ban, and like many other commenters, I don't think it adds any safety. I too would be happy to undergo additional screening if it meant that I could carry mine.

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    ReplyDelete
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