By Morgan Monesmith

In order to make sure we had a season, there have been several new guidelines and rules for meets. For the race itself, not much has changed. However, before and after the race have seen the biggest adjustments. 

  1. Masks

Like for most everything now, cross country now involves masks. For all of the meets we have gone to, we were required to wear them while arriving and walking the course. Depending on the meet, we could take them off at different times. Some meets that were not in Cuyahoga County allowed us to take them off at the starting line five minutes before the race began. Other meets blew a whistle and we took them off seconds before the race began. In that case, we had to carry our masks with us during the race. After the race was finished, we were required to put the masks back on as soon as possible.

  1. Bathrooms

One of the most unfortunate downsides of COVID in cross country meets is the access to bathrooms. Due to social distancing, many locations no longer opened the bathrooms in the buildings. This meant that there were less bathrooms in general and porta potties were the only option. 

  1. Size

Meets limited the amount of runners in the race because of the state rules. I did not notice a huge difference because we do not typically go to a lot of huge meets. Also, the largest meets we went to were cancelled, so we did not get to see how they changed because of size limits. One difference I did notice was that meets would split a race that would have normally been one race into two. For example, a division two race would now have race A and race B. 

  1. Finish Line

During a normal meet, the finish line was a place that teams could gather and congratulate each other. Because of COVID, we are no longer able to gather at the finish line, and there is no longer water there. Also, we are not supposed to high five or hug each other. We used to take the chips or timers off of our spikes at the finish line, but we now do this back at our team area.

  1. Spectators

Although this has not been a big change for me, it has certainly affected my parents. Our first race of the season did not allow spectators. However, as time went on, the meets definitely began to allow spectators. For most of our meets, there was a restriction to two spectators per team member. For some families, this meant that only the parents and not siblings or grandparents could come to the meet. 

  1. Awards

Because of the guidelines in Ohio, it is recommended that meets do not hand out awards to the top finishers. However, we did have one meet that handed out awards at a special tent and mailed shirts to our team.

  1. Cancellations

One of the worst effects of COVID on cross county meets were the cancellations. Most of the meets we went to in previous years such as Tiffin (our overnight meet) got cancelled. In a way, this was also a good thing because we got to try new meets that we normally would not have gone to. Because so many meets were cancelled, it became competitive to get into the few ones happening. We ended up missing our second week race because we could not get into a meet. Our team adapted and had an intersquad meet, but it was not the same. Also, we experienced a meet cancellation the day before the race! This was disappointing because we had prepared all week for it, and it is a course that a lot of us PR at. At the last minute, we pulled together a small meet against Shaker and Gilmour. To deal with these cancellations, we often had to make quick adjustments and stay open-minded.