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28771 Views 32 Replies Latest reply: Aug 1, 2013 12:24 PM by DylanHale 1 2 3 Previous Next
SportiGrl Pro 470 posts since
Jul 22, 2004
Currently Being Moderated

May 8, 2008 11:07 AM

opinions on qualifications for Athena/Clydesdale categories


As a runner that can typically qualify to run as an Athena I have to wonder how the qualifications were decided and set on the 'weight' categories;  and how those entering and running within them feel about this way of trying to level the playing field for prize categories.






I am what I (and most that know me) consider fairly thin and very fit ... yet,  since I hang out in the  150's aside from peak training periods, I could run in the Athena weight category if I chose to do so.  I never have and don't think I would, I do just fine in the open category as do some other gals I know from racing that could also enter in weight categories.    I do outweigh most of the frontrunners by quite a hefty bit and it is a handicap for my times but not what I'd consider the reasoning behind the spirit of setting up such categories.






I've read a few of the threads here and I think it would be highly frowned upon by most if somebody like myself snatched a coveted prize set aside for those that are  overweight to some extent.






So, I suppose I am really asking if most feel these categories are meant for those keeping fit while being overweight or trying to lose weight, OR if they are meant for anybody that is not a petite waif of a person?






I hope this isn't offensive ... I don't mean it to be ... I have competed well in some races and been pushed and often beaten by folks that 'appear' to be in less fit shape than myself - I know extra weight don't always mean less fit, believe me ... and sometimes I find I just have to look at the awards ceremony and find out if they entered open or weight category and am always curious how each runner makes that decision.



  • AlphaGam76 Rookie 7 posts since
    Feb 4, 2008


    Hello.  I was just talking to some of my co-workers about this very thing yesterday.  How funny!  I have been running for a few months now and will be competing in my 3rd 5K this Friday night in Charlotte, NC.  This is the first race that I've ever entered where they even had a Clydesdale/Athena category.  There are 5 of us total running.  The Clydesdale category starts at 140lbs. for women and 185 for men.  All 5 of us would be in the Clydesdale category if we wanted to sign up that way, but we did the open run.  Most of us are very tall and fit, some are shorter but very fit, we all run 5 days each week during our lunch break.  We ALL thought that it was offensive; the man of our group included.  Women worry so much about physical perception.  We know we're fit (most in size 4 or smaller), but the perception of a gigantic horse clomping down the street does little to boost a woman's self-esteem. It's also helpful to note that  the healthy weight for a medium size framed person with a height of 5' 5" is 127-144.  The taller you get the higher the numbers.  I personally don't think that I've been under 140 since I was in middle school. 



    It's funny because the husband of one of the girls in my running group actually signed her up for the Clydesdale division of a race that she was just in.  He did it with completely honorable intentions.  She runs between a 9 and 10 minute mile so he thought that she could win given that most of the other women would be slower.  She was totally offended and refused to run with that division marker next to her name.  The stigma alone is upsetting.



    We don't mind not winning the race, but we don't to run with the idea that those at the finish line can hear us coming.  I wish I could articulate this better, but point is - it's ridiculous!



  • PudgeyRunner Rookie 26 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007


    I don't know about anyone else, but if I was in a race as a Clydesdale and someone like you won, it wouldn't bother me a bit.  Of course, for me, the only person I'm racing is myself.  If I was trying to win in a weight class and someone fit the description of Athena/Clydesdale, and beat me, even someone like you, I'd tell myself to work harder.  That person fit the bill and and won fairly.  Why would I complain.



    Then again, I also hate the term Clydesdale and would cringe to enter it even though I know I fall well within the range.  sigh I'm working on it.  So that's just my two cents.



  • Marykb Legend 1,347 posts since
    Jan 16, 2008

    So here is me,  a "Clydesdale", "Athena", take your pick.  Athena doesn't sound so bad but CLYDESDALE?  That is a big, shaggy horse.  No way would I enter a race as a Clydesdale.  I've never even been in a race that offered that qualification anyway.  And no, I wouldn't want to hear my name announced as a Clydesdale winner.  Everyone would be looking around to see the woman who is as big as a thanks. 


  • FatDanS Rookie 9 posts since
    Dec 29, 2008

    As I type this reply I weigh 277 pounds.  I will be running in my first 5k on Thursday.  I wish that this race had a clydesdale weightclass.  it would give me an oppurtunity to see how I am doing compared to others in comparable condition.  I know that I am going to finish very close to the back (possibly last based on last year's results) and i would like to see how others who are over weight finished without trying to remember bib numbers of other "large" runners.

  • kukri Amateur 104 posts since
    Oct 2, 2008

    I'm 155, my picture is in my profile- I doubt I'm what most would visualize as a clydesdale but who knows? I mean, lots of runners are tiny!






    Outside of running, I compete in a sport where there are tournaments and you are divided by weight class (because there's advantage to being bigger & stronger) & there are scales involved... so my question about the Athena/Clydesdale thing would be are there scales involved? Is weight verified in any way? I expect that would totally take any sortof possible complaint about whether or not someone qualified out of the equation... although I would suggest that depending on the intent of the category bmi or something similar might be a better than weight for qualifying someone...

  • SimonnR Pro 157 posts since
    Feb 4, 2009


    Here in Canada we seem to have age groups at most races, but I have never seen weight groups, though it seems a common practice south of the border.



    My son had a weight problem several years ago, but lost 70lbs through running and attention to what he ate, he has maintained his weight around 175lbs. for 3 years or more.  It seems odd to me to say a person of a given height should weigh some specific amount: we are all built differently. My son is 12lbs heavier than I am, but 3 inches shorter, when he takes off his shirt you can count his ribs, he is much slimmer than I am.



    It is unfortunate we tend to jump to conclusions about people based on their weight or appearance, my son was quite sensitive when he was heavy, part of  his motivation for losing, I try not to do this but don't always keep as open a mind as I should. People also seem to assume older runners like myself (58 this month), will be slow runners; not necessarily so, but I do like being able to compare myself with other runners of my age and gender. Cruisers is definitely a better term!



  • Marykb Legend 1,347 posts since
    Jan 16, 2008

    Kukri, I looked at your picture and you are slender!  Obviously you are pretty tall.  I weigh the same as you - although shorter - but still don't consider myself a "large" runner (my picture is on my post above.)

  • Billiken on the Run Pro 135 posts since
    Nov 28, 2007

    I believe the terms are gender specific - Clydesdale refers to men and Athena to women.  I'm borderline Clydesdale at about 190 lbs but am also 6'4" and never register in that category.

  • GigiD44 Amateur 159 posts since
    Oct 1, 2008

    I am sure I would fit in the Athena category, yet I have never seen this on any of the races I have done thus far. I started "running" Aug. 08 and have completed at least one 5k or 10k each month since. I just completed my first half. I just wanted to know which group/area uses these categories? I live and have raced only in metro Atlanta. This is totally new to me. Reading the comments on several of the posts, I must admit it has given me a new prospective about how people feel running these races. I have picked out people I hope to beat simply to keep from being last and I know of at least one instance in which the person used me as a pacer until the last kick of the race, at which point this smaller person took off in order to come in ahead of me. I will keep doing this simply b/c I like it. I probably weigh a bit more today then i did in Aug. but I run on b/c I know I am already a bit faster!!

    I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me!. Phil. 4:13

    First half - ING Georgia 3/29/09 - 3:27:08

    Second half - ING Georgia 3/21/10 - 3:00:33 yippee!!

    First 15k - Iron Girl Clearwater, FL 4/10/10

  • spicegeek Community Moderator 2,563 posts since
    Jan 14, 2007


    Sadly people are assuming that the classes are for  fatter runners - and that is not meant in anyway to be insulting - The classes are for heavier runners  - there is a big differance - I`m 155 lbs and about 18% body fat at the local races here I usually finish in the top 1/3 of all runners male and female  ( it`s very competitive ) and the top 20% of my age group =  If you ask someone to guess they would say I weight about 130 lbs -   There are 2 styles of runners - the light and waif - like and the power runners  - the power runners have more muscle and are heavier - I`m a power runner.  For sure carrying extra fat is detrimental to race times but I don`t think being muscular should be a handicap because you`re physically stronger.






    I have never seen an athena division at the the races I enter -   I can`t tell you if I`d register or not - I guess I`d look at the past years results and see if it was a competitve field or not. I like to compete with myself  !



    NYC Marathon          Nov 1 2009     -   4:03:13 ( 9:17 mm )

    NYC Half Marathon   Aug 16 2009   -   1:55:38 ( 8:49 mm )

    1 mile -  7:07                             10K     - 52:58 ( 8:32 mm)

    4 mile - 31:35 ( 7:53 mm)          8K      - 42:28 ( 8:32 mm)

    15K -     1:22:02 ( 8:49 mm)

    Find the Half Marathon Team on FACEBOOK

  • navy2001 Rookie 3 posts since
    Nov 8, 2007

    I don't think I've ever been a particularly fast runner, but I would like to place in my age group now that I'm 30.  I run primarily 10k's and half marathons though in 2010 I would like to do the Maryland Double in the marathon category.  But I have never seen a race here in Maryland with either Athena or Clydesdale category.  But, I guess being a female at 185, maybe I'm just overweight even with a bodyfat percentage of around 30%.  Where do race where there is an Athena category? I would really like to know where the running field is a bit more even.


  • Jasmine1972 Legend 923 posts since
    Sep 24, 2009

    I think that having the Athena qualification weight at 140# or even 150# is ridiculous.  As mentioned elsewhere, there are many taller women for whom these weights are within their normal weight range.  I'm slow, older and trying to get my weight below 200# after being in the mid-200's for a long time.  Since my target weight is near 145#, even when I get to that weight, I'd still be considered an Athena for some races.


    My age group is 55-59, and there are often fewer women in my age group than on the Athena list, so my chances are better to "medal" in smaller races.  I'd just wish that large races would actually have two Athena/clydesdale weight classes, with a higher weight class for those of us working to lose lots of weight to get fit.


    But for now, I still remain one of those "horses" who still "runs" along at a penguin's pace, continuing to plow thru my training and races, working to improve my fitness as best I can.

    Jo Ann C

    Started Walking 7/15/09 Weight = 265#; C25K Grad 11/6/09

    8/30/09 5K (62:42) 262# 10/2/10 5K (37:44) 206# 3/26/11 5K (36:42) PR 202#

    6/19/10 10K (83:47) 208# 3/6/11 UAH 10K (79:18) 200#

    6/27/10 IronGirl, Atlanta Tri S 1/3m/B 18m/R 3m (2:42:10) 207#; 5/15/11 - (2:34:08 200)#

    9/25/10 Women's HM, Nashville (3:27:10) 209#, 11/13/10 Huntsville HM (3:17:27) 203#

    2/13/11 Mercedes HM, B'ham (3:02:02) 203#; 3/19/11 Rocket 10mi (2:13:37) PR

    4/30/11 RnR HM Nashville (3:10:12); 5/15/11 5/30/11 Cotton Row 10K (84:36) ;

    6/11/11 Mt. Mania 15K (2:17:12); 7/16/11 Wet Dog Tri (98:56);

    8/13/11 Mtn Lakes Tri; (2:13:32); 8/28 Rocketman Oly Tri; 9/10 Frantic Frog Tri (1:52:35)

    9/24/11 Womens HM (2:54:28) 195# PR; 10/1 Toray 5K (35:35 PR);

    10/15/11 Liz Hurley 5K (36:24); 10/22 Book-it 10K (74:51 PR) 197#;
    11/12/11 Huntsville HM - Target 2:50

  • StanleighCO Pro 69 posts since
    Aug 25, 2010

    I know that I will never win a race outright (overall first place male), I hope some day that I will run in my age group, but those in my age group (and non-clydesdayle) . I have seen however, that i will never have a chance against those sub 150 pound runners no matter that age category. I only see attrition (injury, retirement and yes death) as a mean for me ever have a chance of winning my age category.



    I have competed in the Clydesdale division whenever possible and I believe in all but one of them came in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, except for one (Boulder Peak Duathlon) where i came in last place.  I believe in the slogan of the Evergreen Town Race (Evergreen, Colorado) "Finishing is winning".


    My average weight over the last 30 years has been 265. I don't have a "stagnant" lifestyle. I like playing tennis, bike riding (30 mile orgainized rides and shorter recreational rides) and swim. The lowest my weight has been was 225 which was due to working on my feet (low pay retail) and running 15-No matter what i do, the best that i can get my weight down to was 225 after being up once over 300 pounds due to medicines. Once again prednsone has me over 300. A matter of a month ago I was up o 314, but as of Friday my weight was 301. With any luck I will be celebrating being under 300 pounds this week. The time before I had to prepare and run a half marathon (Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half, 2006) and effective this last week I am training for the Heart Center of the Rockies Half on Nov 6, 2010.


    The last time i was down to 225 it was my hope to get out of the "Clydesdale" division, but I doubt it happening.


    As I have heard before somebody say, "More than half of these people (Athena and Clydesdale incuded) don't belong in these races." But let me say this, those having the benefit races welcome us.


    A clydesdale in Colorado.

    Stanley (stanleighco1 on Yahoo Messenger)

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