They Can’t Ban the Banned

What fun is a run without tunes?

Organizers of the NYC marathon seem not to have considered this question. Citing safety concerns, they’ve forbidden the use of headphones during this year’s race, forcing marathoners to leave their IPODs and MP3 players at home and run what may be the race of their lifetime without the motivating power of music.

That is, at least, until the runners cross the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan and reach the corner of 63rd and 1st.

There they can hear the music of My Brothers Banned, a musical group whose sole purpose today is to play the tunes that will motivate runners to cross that finish line. It’s fun to watch as the runners legs all begin to move in time to the beat of the music, and even the screaming fans along the sidewalks are bouncing along to the music. When the music slows down and softens to instrumental jazz, Lyle Puente, the Banned’s lead singer, calls out encouragement over the microphone to individual runners.

The Banned, an eclectic, ever-changing group of musicians from Mohegan Colony, NY, has been coming down to play this spot in the marathon every year for the past 5 years. The group gets its name from founding brothers Lyle and Eric Puente, although only Lyle remains in the band today.

Today, the boys will play the marathon until the bitter end, their energy remaining high even as the last stragglers weave among the street cleaners and garbage trucks towards the finish line in Central Park. Then they will pack it up and head back home till next year’s race.

Their motto? “We bend with the wind and fall down laughing.”

Running to the Music of My Brothers Banned


This is eighth in a series about NYC street life called I Get it on the Streets.

4 Responses to They Can’t Ban the Banned

  1. Thanks guys! I was worried it might be too bright, ut I do like it myself…

    As for the rule, its supposedly for safety and to prevent runners from ahving a competitive edge.

    See some great comments from manym, mant runners on the NY times site I linked to in the post.

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