To Athena or Not?

8:48 AM

Umm, this is so weird to me!

Clydesdale - yes, like those humongous horses in the Budweiser commercials, is a category for the "larger" men in a race/marathon. Well, we can't be sexist, so there is also the Athena category.
Photo Credit
Wikipedia - Athena
The first time I ever saw this or paid attention was when I was overly obsessing over my (previously) impending CIM (first marathon). I was shocked that this was even an option, but then I applauded it because I felt like it was encouraging "everyone" to run a marathon.

UNTIL...I realized I was basically an Athena. I was A) kinda mad that I didn't sign up for this random category and B) aah, I fit in this category.

It should be said I toggle between weight, by race day I was close to my race day weight goal, which was below Athena. I could have easily stayed at 150, had I known about this earlier! Anyways, CIM's Athena weight was 150. That's it, 150 lbs! Okay, yes, most women runners are tall, lean, and svelte...

NOT! There are tons of different runner bodies. I'm so all over the place about how I feel about this category.

I did some research into this, just to be more familiar with the topic, here are some articles that I read:

Runners World - Why do athena/clydesdale categories exist?

[Published in 2011]  
Expert: The addition of weight categories is relatively new to running, and not every race offers this option.

New York TimesWeight Classes Aim to Balance Races
[Published October 4, 2010]  
Expert: Clydesdale running dates to the late 1980s when a Baltimore-area accountant analyzed 20,000 runners in 10-kilometer races and marathons. The analysis showed that once men reach about 170 pounds, their performance declines relative to athletes of about the same age with a slighter build.

I mean, I get it. Essentially, it's a way to equalize the sport of running. Not all of us are elite runners and qualifying for Boston. So, as a middle of the pack runner, I do not aim to place in age categories and such. But, I'm slightly offended that I, at times, can register for this category. I know the intent is not to "fat shame" anyone, but essentially it is calling out people by their weight. But it also gives them a fighting chance at placing in a category and winning a medal, when in most cases they wouldn't.

I think I'll stick to my middle-of-the-pack status, Athena-less anonymity for now...

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  1. I have a LOT of opinions when it comes to Athena division. Personally, I always sign up because the idea of possibly getting an award in any way excites me. However, I really do not think that the weight categories reflect what they are "trying" to do. 150 pounds (usual Athena requirement) is NOT a big woman by any means-especially if they are tall. I've seen local races where the Athena and Clydesdale division winners come in at under 20 minutes in a 5k which kinda takes the purpose out of the division. Essentially I do like the basic idea of allowing runners to be able to place in more than one category but I sort of think the way they do it is flawed. Thanks for this post!

    1. Hi Kelsey! I completely agree, on how you opinions can be varying within this category. I've never noticed it in many of our local, smaller races. The first time I noticed it was for a marathon. But now, I'm on the lookout for it. Getting an extra medal is always a great way to end a race, but I think this category needs to be thought out a little more.

  2. I think it is only fat-shaming if you have emotional body issues yourself. Basically, I mean pretty much anything can be taken the wrong way. It is more like a masters category. If someone is sensitive about their age, they'll say, "WTF why are they calling me O-L-D?!?!"

    The truth is that carrying more weight is harder than less, I'm glad there's an optional category that people can use to reward them for more effort they put in.

    And honey, my first marathon was waaaaaaaaaaaaay slower than yours. I'm just shy of a BQ time. You may be mid-pack now and a BQ isn't an immediate goal, but you could get there if you want it. Don't put yourself down, everybody has to start somewhere!

    1. Hi Karen! I agree wholeheartedly. It is a personal preference and more power to those who can receive an award that the otherwise might not. My reference to "fat-shaming" may have been a bit dramatic, but I understand what you are saying. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have my own body issues, but I think we all do in some way or another. As for Boston, that thought hasn't even crossed my mind. I still need to figure out if I want to do another marathon! Hahaha...Thanks for your thoughts, this topic really interests me for some reason :)


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