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The Sound of Silence

During the NYC Marathon you’ll see some runners chasing pavement to music and audiobooks, but for the runners who aren’t: they have a good reason not to be. 

By Daisy Williams     |     Nov. 3, 2019
(Animation by Natalia Rodríguez Medina/NYCity News Service)

To some, silence isn’t deafening. This year, many runners won’t rely on music to make it through the 26.2-mile run. Whether out of habit, for safety, or to help their performance, some people prefer to run musically “naked.”

Jim Henry stopped listening to music out of safety cautions. The 62-year-old says being aware of his surroundings is his primary concern. “I quit routinely listening to music while training because I can’t always hear cars coming.” He will mirror his training habits in the race, but says he runs with headphones in his pocket just in case. “I like to have earbuds with me in case I really, really need the motivation.” 

Music won’t stop some from breaking their own records. Sharon Mosley, 34, from New York, says she hasn’t listened to music for over a decade to get the best results. Mosley says she trains and competes without a soundtrack because it throws her off her rhythm. “I find running with music either speeds me up when I need to be conserving my pace and saving speed.” 

Texan Tom Brenton is anxious about making it throughout the whole marathon. He says his Apple Watch’s battery life can be contentious and is nervous about a mid-run disaster. “I’ve barely made it on my long runs with enough juice,” says Brenton. “I’m thinking I better not play music if I want my watch to last the entire race.” 

But with or without music, Florida local, Stefanie Cappon, knows she won’t be running in silence. She ditches the headphones for the sounds of New York City. “There’s so much entertainment on the course,” Cappon said. “It’s the biggest block party.”