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Oregon runs to its own beat

    As a growing number of races nationwide ban earphones, Oregon event directors seem to be going the other direction. The Portland Marathon has even dubbed itself the “MP3 player-friendly marathon.” Organizers are recruiting runners and walkers who feel rejected elsewhere with a new slogan: “Plug in!”

    USA Track & Field, the sport’s main governing body, says runners who tune in to music tune out announcements, traffic and fellow athletes.

    But Oregon race directors contend their courses are the safest places to run with music, as long as people don’t crank up the volume to earsplitting decibels. So polish your playlist for Thursday’s Turkey Trot at the Oregon Zoo or the Dec. 2 Jingle Bell Run downtown.

    Many runners swear they can’t survive without Kanye West or Radiohead.

    Les Smith, the marathon director, can relate. He remembers tearing up as he ran through Central Park in the early 1990s listening to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” — lugging a cassette deck.

     — Excerpt from The Oregonian, November 18, 2007


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