Some 37,000 masochists will hit the city’s streets Sunday for the New York City Marathon. Everyone — even Rosie Ruiz, these days — knows runners can’t hop on the subway. But are there other rules governing the race? You bet your itty-bitty spandex briefs there are.
According to the official rules, those itty-bitty spandex briefs are allowed — but only if they are clean, don’t display any foul language or icons, and the material is opaque enough not to become transparent, even when wet. Only in hot weather may shirts be torn off and tossed to the side of the course, although don’t expect to get them back — New York Road Runners, which hosts the event, says they’re collected and given to charity. It’s okay to go barefoot or to wear shoes on one or both feet, but the soles of any shoes worn must not contain more than eleven spikes and must not have springs or other forward-propelling devices attached.
Those who like to listen to their iPods or watch portable DVD players while running are strongly discouraged from doing so, though it’s not officially verboten. You may also use your cell phone on the course, though Road Runners prefers you don’t and suggests that when you do, you step to the side and not interfere with serious competitors. The organizers also ask that you not throw discarded beverage cups at your fellow runners, and they forbid you from otherwise purposely jostling, tripping, or injuring them. You may not run with your pet, no matter how fast that pet may be, and you may not push a baby stroller or wear roller skates.
Because the race passes through city parks, park rules apply, meaning: no mutilating trees or flowers without the permission of the commissioner, no allowing your child to walk on newly seeded grass, and no spitting on monuments. Also off-limits, thanks to park rules, is gambling or fortune-telling, use of metal detectors, molesting park animals, or exposing genitalia. Distributing or soliciting marijuana is out, too, as is bathing in fountains or other park waters.
Also: There’s absolutely no peeing or pooping on park grounds. So make sure to go before you start the race.
— Hope Reeves