Cross country runners can breathe easier now.
The state has altered health guidelines regarding mask wearing, now allowing participants in high school cross country meets to drop their masks from covering their face once a race begins.
That should come as welcomed news for runners in the 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League, which are scheduled to hold its first cross country meets on Wednesday. The 2A GSHL will hold season-opening meets on Thursday.
Previous guidelines sent out by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, on the guidance of the state health department, required runners to wear a face coverings at all times, which included races.
“The masks definitely make it 20 times harder to run,” said Fort Vancouver runner Gillian Snyder after running in a mask at Fort’s cross country jamboree on Saturday. “I don’t know if anyone was found a mask that works really well when you run.”
The guidelines also require that runners been sent off the starting line in waves of no more than 10 runners at a time.
“The WIAA has advocated for a number of changes to the COVID-19 education-based activity guidelines while working with both the Governor’s Office and State Department of Health in recent weeks,” the WIAA said in a release.
Other changes stated that league play for school sports that cross state borders has been included as essential travel. The Hudson’s Bay golf teams have used Heron Lakes Golf Course in Portland as its home course for the past several years.
There was no mention of any changes regarding mask wearing for the sports of golf and tennis. Last month, WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman said the WIAA would continue to seek further clarification from the state on that.