Monday, July 28, 2008

Nike's Human Race 10k - One Million iPod-Deafened Runners At Once

Nike is gearing up for The Human Race 10k on August 31st, where 1 million+ runners will don their iPods to race in 25+ locations around the world at the same time. The race is designed to highlight the Nike+ product line, which tracks and communicates your pace while you run, and allows you to upload it to compare your results to others. Strangers linked together through iPods yet running side by side...certainly an epitome of the information age!

Maybe it's just me, but isn't the theme of this race a tad too oxymoronic? Enter a race, tune into your own playlist while you run, then go back home and upload the results to compare how you ran to all those people you didn't talk to during the run. Isn't this missing the point of having a group event in the first place? Is it easier to upload and compare than just meeting people at the race? For a blog- and social network-dependent world, perhaps this is the most intimate the digerati can be.

I'm bummed that there isn't a Human Race nearby, for I would like to witness it. If anything just to see thousands of runners screaming "ON YOUR LEFT!" to no avail. The blissfully deaf iPod runners are a nightmare in most road races...imagine everyone having one going at full blast! There is definitely going to be some carnage.

I love my iPod (and Nike+), but just can't get my head around this event. Am I crazy?

- SD


  1. Good grief! To me that photo looks exactly like the army lined up on the battlefield from The Lord of the Rings

    The image is even more striking on the Nike+ website:

    I can just imagine an equally massive opposing army on the RHS of that photo ready to slay the hordes of 26-27 year old runners. Go Orcs!!

    Cheers, Paul
    P.S. I am such a hypocrite since I really do like my iPod and I probably blog more than I talk these days :-)

  2. Took the words right out of my mouth. I don't know if I'd want to be anywhere near the massive Kool-Aid fest that seems to be.

    (and I don't run with anything in my ears).

    I wonder if the courses are USATF sanctioned/certified?? If so, will every runner get DQ'ed?

  3. But just look at all those hotties on the starting line! ;)

  4. If they've got 1 million people running, I figure they don't need me. I'd much rather be running a small trail race somewhere else!

    I initially liked my Nike+iPod because it was cheap and I always train with an iPod anyways and I don't want to spend the cash on a Garmin. I've been unable to calibrate it lately, and it would tell me I was either running 5:30 min/miles (I wish) or else 12:00 min/miles.


  5. iPods are fine and i can see why people train with them, but i think Nike should be taken to task for promoting the idea of running races with iPods.

  6. You know, it IS possible to run with one earbud in and one out and NOT be a hazard in a race. It is the best of both worlds. I think it is great that all of these people may get hooked on running because of this. I use a Garmin now, but I accredit the Nike+ with helping me commit to running a couple of years ago.


  7. I'm with you, sort of ridiculous, but if people have fun and no one gets hurts... I do wish I could get my Nano to work after water got into it through that USB(?) port during my drenching at Kettle Moraine in June, so I'm almost 2 months without it. I think I'm going to be webless again for a while, so early good luck at Waldo.

  8. no, you're not crazy, this event is though. I get Nike wanting to push its devices, so I'm not surprised by that. I am interested to see how many people are just furious because they can't get around a slower runner who's ipod is cranked and they pay no attention to anything around them.

    I'm all for technology and music players, but they have their place and a packed event where everyone is sporting headphones and trying to run a fast race is not it. Sure you can keep the volume low and one earbud in, but you think that's going to happen? I gotta have my trance music LOUD :)

  9. I use a Nike+ Sportsband (I like the quiet when I run) and have signed up to the virtual race, but I couldn't imagine being at one of the organised events. It is going to be insane and I can already see a few runners pulling their hair out in frustration when they bump into various others that have their hearing disabled by the blaring music.

  10. i dont really thing that you'll have to don your ipods for this event. it's just a race which features live music played along the way and to promote their nike+ which enables runners who didn't participate in that big run to "participate" by running on that day and sending their results up.
    cheers! (:

  11. I almost signed up for this race. But $50.00 is simply a ridiculous fee, especially when considering:
    - It's sponsored by one of the largest shoe companies in the world;
    - Only $5 of that $50 goes to a charity of your choice (and there is no accounting trail that I know of - you don't get a tax receipt!);
    - Food at the end of the race is not free (but "snack samples" are available - WTF?)

    I've entered many 5 and 10K runs where the registration fee was half the price and the end race food was provided for free.

    Can someone please explain to me what the $50.00 entry fee pays for?

    I am by no means a tight wad.. in fact, had 60% of that fee gone to a charity, I would not hesitate to enter and pay the fee! I have no problem with an entry fee so long as I understand and accept how the money is distributed.

    I can't help wonder how much Nike is benefiting from this huge advertising campaign.

  12. Scott,

    I completely agree that Nike is going about this all the wrong way. Here are some of my thoughts, as an avid runner, and also someone who works in marketing:

  13. Just ran the Portland NIkeplus event! Awesome. 1000+ people all running and wearing the same shirt. Not a single one had earphones on.

  14. Hey Ross, some good points. I noticed you wrote that participation is/was $35.00 but in Vancouver it was an outrageous $50.00 to participate. People are saying that all of the money goes to charity (which would be great if it were true) but according to the Nike+ web page, only $5.00 will go to a charity of your choice.

    I never received an answer from Nike about clarifying this.

  15. just ran the NYC human race. not very impressive. 45 minutes late to start. poor trail. huge bottleneck on the second lap (I am always pro-new/slow runners, but please stay to the left!). And all the time, you had to listen to the announcer going "rah, rah, yea, yea, NIKE!!!"

  16. I ran in the Munich race & I only saw a few people with iPods & it was not overly crowded where you would have to announce that you are passing someone. I also never got the feel that this was a pro-iPod event. The Nike+ sports band works by itself, no iPod required. Also, I got the feel that anyone could participate, from anywhere in the world. You can run without an iPod & without the sports band. If you actually read their website it says that. I paid about 44 Euros, which about 23 Euros would have gone to the 3 band concert at the end of the race. (Non-runners bought the concert tickets for €23) However, I do think that only about €5 went to charity, but that left € 16 for Nike. What about the shirt, bag, chip, poster, armband (that I got as a participant) & all the extra sideshows that they had at the event? That all costs money for Nike to give away. That really doesn't leave much for Nike in the end. All in all, I agree, it is a big advertisement for Nike but, it was a lot of fun, especially the concert & we ran through a historic part of the city. It actually wasn't that much different than any other race I ran in, here in Munich, except the concert was extra special. It also inspired a friend of mine to quit smoking & take up running for the first time in her life, at age 30. The organization was great, but Munich is used to hosting such events in Olympic Park so, I don't think the organization was really done by Nike. In the end, I would totally do this again & even my friend is going to run in other races in and around Munich.

  17. I think people are being a bit hyper-critical here, there are plenty of other races to run in if you don't like Nike+ runners with iPod's. I ran in this race on a lonely bike trail in the woods...

    Maybe we should give Nike+ a little credit for helping to get people off their couches, gotta admit, they've gone farther than Wii. Without Nike+ to help me run with a purpose, set goals for myself and track my progress, I'd be sedentary again.

    It's pretty innovating that they've found a way to get the computer age physical again. My old man still marvels at the fact that I had to calibrate my shoes...Of course there's room for improvement, but we've gotta start somewhere.

  18. I ran in the nyc race and the course left a lot to be desired in a few spots (potholes, large rocks), and there was a very large bottleneck on the 2nd lap that caused even the elite runners to come to a stand still. There was also a 45 minute delay at the start due to the fact that many runners were stuck waiting for buses and ferries to take them to randalls island. Shame on you Nike & the MTA!!! This race should be moved back to central park where it belongs.

  19. I also ran in New York - it was an absolute debacle. Huge lines to get the transport to the venue, race started really late while the runners stood in the heat for half an hour listening to the boring Nike speeches and then massive bottle necks with the crowd in many places including a dangerous 5minute wait at a footbridge. Finally it seems the times posted are not calculated using the time you went over the start line and so if you started over 10 minutes later like me, it just got added to your time. I think Nike should make an extra donation to the charities to at least make up for the shocking organization!

  20. I really don't see the problem. I go running with two friends and we all wear ipods with our own music. The music is not too loud, so we can talk occasionally. The fact that you upload your run afterwards, doesn't mean you don't talk to the other runners. You can do both! (or do you have to be a woman to be able to run, listen to music and talk at the same time?)

  21. I also ran the NYC race and it was a scam. I have 3 major complaints that I think most people who ran this race can relate to. (1a) The delayed start. To be fair, my recollection was that the delay was 35 minutes (I started toward the front in the 7:00 pace area) but that is still unacceptable. For a 10K, experienced runners will ration their water and piss breaks up to the start. It isn't like a marathon or 50K where you carry water. So, I started the race with dry mouth and having to pee. I got there plenty early (walked across the Triborough bridge). Unfortunately not everybody is as responsible and on top of things. 9,500 runners shouldn't be punished because of 500 people who can't get their act together. (1b) I'm not convinced of the reasons cited for the delay. I wouldn't be surprised if Nike held it so they could take more areal photos... after all, this race clearly was not about the runner. It was about Nike+. (2) Having a bottleneck with about a quarter mile left. That was the worst part of all. My goal was a 7:30 pace and I was just barely on top of that when I started feeling my kick coming on... only to run into a wall of people trying to squeeze through a pedestrian bridge no wider than 2x a man's wingspan. I was furious. I wanted to jump off that bridge and make it a biathlon. I am so furious about that I can't even write more about it. (3) The website is not even providing the most BASIC of race statistics that even EVERY race, regardless of scale or budget, provides. Telling me I placed 597th is absolutely WORTHLESS without telling me how many finishers there were. They expect me to believe there were EXACTLY 10,000 runners? Really? I have run several North Face endurance challenge races (50K event) and at least North Face, even if they are a corporation, takes care of the runners and is genuinely concerned about the runner's experience. I'm never running a Nike event again or buying a Nike product. This race was a waste of time and money. But... now we will watch the TV commercials and magazine ads touting this as a huge success- all of us ignorantly wearing our red Nike+ shirts with smiling faces.

  22. I think it is great. The price range, availability and online community is a great means of motivation for many out there that are either new to running (myself included) or fit more in the recreational runner category.
    With that said I always run with my Nike+ and ipod but unless I'm on a treadmill or a track the earphones stay at home. I can't stand running roads or trails with headphones but capturing my workouts is sure nice.
    Yes the website and tool are less than ideal but it has been helpful for me and many others.

  23. I participated to the Munich one and it was really a great event. Nobody bumped on another as there was enough space. And it was incredibly well organized. I don't speak a word of German but I still found myself perfectly equipped on the startline without any problem. What bothers you? Nike is making profits? People using iPod?
    Why in the hell everybody is so negative.

  24. I ran the London one. It rocked. I am not a Nike fan but hats off to them. I thought it was an fantastic event: running with 30,000 fellow Londoners in our red t-shirts; the buzz on the tube there; and on the way back all in our white t-shirts; being on a player on the pitch at Wembley Stadium.
    I thought the whole point was the taking part.
    Maybe it's a US thing, seems us Europeans had a great time. Thank you Nike and don't let the moaners put you doing other events


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