Running from the virus

COVID-19 variant’s effects on track and cross country

The highly contagious new Omicron variant of COVID-19 has spread over the past few months. It has been affecting sports, clubs and after school activities. Two very popular sports affected by Omicron are indoor track and cross country. The adjustment back to school after winter break was already hard for students, but the attempt to control the Omicron surge led to a week without any after school activities. 

“I missed the environment and track as well as cross country that has such a positive welcoming environment,” freshman Maya Kinnard said.

The typical transition from outdoor to indoor track has also been affected by COVID-19. As students start to run indoors, the mask mandate is still in place, requiring students to keep their mask on when indoors until they actually start competing. 

“We’ve had a whole bunch of canceled meets, which has sucked. I think another thing is a lot of our meets have been outside. And so right now it’s our indoor season. So it’s kind of hard to practice order run meets inside. And essentially we’ve had a lot of meets that are like out in the cold in the rain. So I think that definitely affected a lot of people,” seniors on the track team Kian Thomasbeer and Nanda Min Fink said in conversation with one another.

As of January 25, indoor track events had only happened indoors once due to the rise in cases caused by Omicron. After that date, the indoor track team started to have meets outside. The cold weather has made it harder for moral support and team interaction.

“We also have only gotten to do one indoor track meet because of COVID, we have to do all our track meets outside in 20 degree [weather],” freshman Maeve Shoji said. “It’s not really indoor track anymore, I guess it’s more outdoor track.” 

Students are also missing out on team interaction activities that further their connections and friendships because of restrictions surrounding Omicron. Cold weather conditions also made it more difficult for teammates on the team to cheer each other on.

“We had a track meet [January 25], and they had Wakefield open because it was so cold outside,” said Shoji. “So most of the team is inside and you run your event, go inside or you leave. People go there to run and leave, they don’t stay for the whole track meet. They’re not there to cheer people on,. especially since it was such a late school night meet.” 

Freshmen and the seniors’ experiences are much different from each other, especially due to the pandemic. This is the freshmen students’ first year on cross country and track, and the seniors’ last year. Seniors are definitely ending their high school years very differently than they began: with masks and social distancing.

Despite current changes due to Omicron, the indoor track team is doing their best to try and adapt to the circumstances. Running out in the cold and surrendering their team building activities are examples of their commitment to their sport. It’s not just the track and cross country team, all sports and clubs have had to work through these challenging times to the best of their abilities.

“I like how it’s [track] a team sport, but at the end of the day it is how much you put into it, and how your effort shows at meets,” freshman track team member Yuvika Prasad said.