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Athena: Goddess of Too Fat?

Note: This original post was written in 2012.

The USAT national board just passed this revision of the USAT Rule Book, Article III, General Rules and Conduct, Rule 3.2, regarding the Athena and Clyde class.  The resolution passed on April 2.

“The weight standards will commence in effect on January 1, 2013.

Female weight class (Athena) 165 pounds

<Male weight class (Clydesdale) 220 pounds

As most of you know, the prior weight minimums for these classes of racing were 150 (Athena) and 200 (Clydesdale). I was blown away by the response I received on Facebook and direct emails about this change.

Generally, the men commented that they needed to eat more doughnuts to make the 220 weight.

The women screeched, “Yes! I’m OUT of this class” ….or “Sigh, still so far to go.”

In other words, the men were proud to be Clydes. The women appear to be scrambling to escape the Athena class like it’s the 7th circle of triathlon hell.

DLLpeach-1656-ZF-2126-92712-1-001-005My friend, Carrie H., gave me a magnet a while back that says Athena: Goddess of Kick Ass.  After digesting the many reactions about this weight class change, I had to ponder…Athena: Goddess of Too Fat?I woke up this morning, and gave myself a disgusted look in the mirror.  I’ve been sidelined for almost seven weeks with a broken foot, so I have done (obviously) no running or biking. I have swam but I have pretty much not used my legs or glutes for six weeks. And it shows. Eeek. As I scowled in the mirror, I quickly snapped out of it.  I have come too far for this crap, I said (out loud).My attitude reminded me of stupid post awhile back on a blog that I will not link to. The blogger asked the question: Did this “Plus-Size Model Betray Us by Losing Weight”?  The blogger later apologized for her post, and like I said, I can’t link to it, because well… I hate her blog, her stream of ads and everything it stands for. (Okay, enough of my rant).By the way, this is the woman who “betrayed” us… because now she looks like this. Ha.
Hello. I’d love to betray ALL of you…if it meant I’d be rocking this healthy, athletic body….I was so enraged by the post, that I posted a stinging comment, which I never do. “Stop writing stupid crap like this and write content to EMPOWER women about the bodies they LIVE IN (whether thin, fat or otherwise) and stop staring, analyzing and making a freaking big deal about whether that body changes, and whether you “should” raise applause or eyebrows.” I tend to feel the same exact way about the Athena and Clyde “war.” People are really passionate about their respective sides, too. I see five angles to this so-called battle.1) The Happy Athenas: I fall into this category.  We are the big(ger) girls, we know it, and we choose to race with our fellow 150+ (soon to be 165+) pounders. Sometimes the “bigger” girls are just very tall and fit girls. 150 pounds is all you gotta be to join the club. I am on the far end of the (+), by the way. I don’t care if I see a svelte 6’0″ woman racing and winning the class. I don’t care who is in the class, or what they look like. All I know is that I am part of a group of women who do not see 118 pounds on their scales in the morning (and maybe never will), and that’s okay – we TRI anyway.2) The Exiting Athenas:  Women on the border of the great weight divide, who race Athena because they can place well in the class, but are ready to escape the group. Just a few more pounds! Athena is goal to pass through, not a lifetime member club. And when they do pass out of the group, they appreciate the hard work and dedication it took to be an official “real” age-grouper, who can’t race Athena. (I wouldn’t mind this group either, to be honest).3) The Age Group Athenas:  Ladies who think the Athena class is either ridiculous, deplorable, embarrassing, unnecessary, or just can’t stomach weighing at athlete check-in. I understand. Weighing-in is horrific. Even though these ladies could race Athena, they would rather ride their bike into oncoming traffic than race this class. Wearing spandex is tough enough without the dreaded “A” on the right calf. They choose to be age groupers versus Athenas, which is precisely why the choice is there.4) The Indifferent / Supporters:  The group of men and women who don’t have to worry about ever nearing these weight cutoffs, and are therefore indifferent about the whole Athena/Clyde group and don’t spend their time worrying about what others are doing… Or, they think it’s great to have the two classes, that it helps encourage participation in triathlon – and that is a good thing. Either way, Athena/Clyde, Tomato/Tomato doesn’t matter to these guys.5) The So-Called Purists:  Those who believe triathlon should be closed to Athena-like and Clyde-like people. Those who believe that triathlon is a pure sport where only elite athletes should be allowed to play, blog about and talk about. (These are the ones who send me nasty emails…go ahead, you know you want to.)img_96541

Third Place Athena, Tri The Parks 2011.
(Last Place Age Group!)

Soooo….where are you?  Do you belong to a “side”? Did I miss any?In light of getting mad at models for losing weight and the great Athena debate, I must ask why… why don’t we simply plan to EMPOWER women (and men) to race in the bodies they live in (thin, fat, strong, Athena, Clyde or otherwise).

Especially in triathlon! A sport where people are putting themselves out there, trying to move, and trying to change their lives. Some women (and men) may do triathlon to lose weight. But it seems easier to me to just sit on the couch and stop eating… than to train 6-25 hours a week for weight loss…

Coming out of the water with other Athenas and age-groupers… August 2011.

When a woman begins to swim, bike and run, when she begins to learn the nuances of triathlon, it becomes something bigger (no pun intended) than weight loss. Slowly, she learns to train for the health benefits, the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment, the mental health break from the job & kids, the pushing-beyond-her-comfort zone rush…and the excitement of crossing a finish line that previously seemed impossible.Same goes for the dudes, except my caveat coming from the Expert … for guys, each triathlon feels like a win, and every guy needs a win sometimes.


I believe with all of my heart that ANYONE can do a triathlon. ANYONE.The Purists may believe that anyone can, but think that not everyone should do a triathlon.

I disagree.

I think there is a time, race, and place for everyone. Yes, a 250 pound beginner should not take on an Ironman race and bottleneck the swim and cause dangerous conditions on the bike. Should a 250 pound beginner work hard to learn to swim, bike and run… grasp the rules of the race…and head out for a local sprint tri?  YES! Yes! YES!!!! You must start somewhere.  I took on Miami 70.3 because I knew I could hang with a group on the swim and bike, that I may be slower, but I would not be a course hazard. On the run? Hell, no one cares if someone else is walking…

But this is precisely why there are women’s only races, local races, fun runs, sprint tris, staggered wave starts.

All of these factors lead to a safer course, but also a welcoming spirit. Can just anyone win the race? No. Will someone finish last? Yes. Will it be you? Could be. Is that your biggest fear? Finishing last? Embarrassing yourself? Is that why the Athena class gets so much resistance and fury and laughs? Because it’s embarrassing? We are a funny, fat, jolly bunch who will never amount to anything?  What about the 5’11” fit women who race the Athena class? Is it unfair because they are tall and thus, weigh more…and not short and tubby? Would you rather die than race Athena?


Of course, you are not required to race Athena if you are over 165 pounds. It’s merely an option available to you. Which I think is fabulous.

The 70.3 and 140.6 races usually do not have this class, anyway.

Of course, I understand goals and wanting to lose weight to be faster.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a complete triathlon moron.  Plus, I would love to be under that cutoff, not to race outside that class – but to simply rock a string bikini (which I have now done, whether or not I am entitled to do so). But I keep moving.

At St. Anthony’s Triathlon (in 2011 AND in 2017), I raced Athena and saw women on the course who clearly were in my “group,” only they chose to race age group, avoiding the Athena girls.  It’s a choice. An individual choice, and an interesting one, at that.

Athena: Goddess of Too Fat? Of course, you know I don’t feel that way.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts…


  • Alyssa Neiers

    April 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. I will admit I am an Athena but always race in the age group. Both because I am embarrassed and because sometimes my age group (20-24) has less competition.
    But I've also realized in the now 3 races I've done that triathletes come in ALL shapes, sizes, ages, fitness levels, genders, backgrounds, mentalities, etc. It doesn't matter. I agree that ANYONE and EVERYONE can tri!
    I didn't start triathlons to loose weight, I did it to accomplish something. Sure I might have gotten more fit along the way, but I didn't go in hoping to drop 10+ pounds. The feelings of pride and accomplishment are the reasons I do tris.
    Just because someone isn't a skinny-minnie doesn't mean they shouldn't do tris.

  • Louise Rothwell

    April 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    You are brilliant,well said! I would love to post your blog on my FB page. I have competed in many Tris and running races,never as an Athena but, my choice not to! I am consistently hovering between the weight of one! I am not a stick but,I am fit! I have run 4 half marathons in a year all under 2 hrs and a full marathon. Being fit is what matters. Love it when people are in awe of my accomplishments and yet I am 145+lbs.
    Hope your heals soon and you are back training.
    You make me laugh!

  • Boxer Runner

    April 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I love this! I am venturing into the world of triathlons and have 4 sprints planned this summer. I pondered the Athena non Athena debate. While I don't like telling the world I weigh over 165 lbs…its a fact. Its sad that society has brainwashed us to think there is something wrong with weighing over 100lbs. I have resolved to accept that is who I am. No petite bones in my body EVER! I am comfortable in my skin and the best shape of my life. I am doing the sprint tris for fun…If I ever won and age group that would be awesome but my ultimate goal is just completion and hopefully faster than the previous. Thanks for writing about this!

  • robinbb

    April 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    This summer will be my first triathlon, but I have been racing marathons for five years. I love the athena division and am happy to see they are raising the weight on it. I am a "big" girl and will never be small, but I am fast. And I am proud of my body and will be proud to race with the 165 pound crown. I wrote a similar post about embracing your body, I'd love for you to read:

    Thanks for a great post!!


    April 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    I love this post. Happy Athena here! I am a 5'9, 155lb Athena who is crushed that they are changing the weight. It's not that I don't want to race in my age group (I often do as many races I register for do not offer Athena divisions), but rather that I find the Athena participants to be a rather supportive bunch. Once that I will miss being a part of.

  • BabyWeightMyFatAss

    April 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I'm so confused so please bare with me.

    Do they always have Athena groups for triathlons?

    I first saw it at a race in 2010. Then I entered the group for that race and placed second in my division. So I don't mind the weight groups. It is rare here to find a race that does have Athena/Clydes groups.

  • Barb

    April 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I have raced in both categories, even placed first in a small triathlon as an Athena. But even then I find myself comparing my times to my age group to see where I fall. I don't know why I can't commit/own the Athena category, I'll always be an Athena weight-wise. I guess I just feel like it's a "special" category for something that isn't "special." I'm out there grinding it out just like everyone else, is it special that I'm doing it while weighing 165+?

    • SoGlo

      June 26, 2018 at 12:25 pm

      YES!! It is special.
      I am Big Butt Goddess, and when I’m training with my elite teammates I often fantasize about going as fast as them…until reality hits… my consolation is to think of each one of them carrying a Cuban ass and thighs like mine. I wonder if they would run, swim or bike as fast…then I laugh it off knowing that very few people can graciously carry what I carry 😀
      So, you see, you are special too!! Because the simple act of going for it, regardless of the size, shape or weight of your body, makes you special and makes you powerful.

      Next time you see some of the age group athletes on the podium, picture them carrying a body like yours and I am sure you will also KNOW that you carry it more graciously! 🙂

  • Carrie @Tempo Life Coaching

    April 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I've never raced under athena because I didn't even know what it was when I signed up. I still signed up age group for this year. I just figure either way I'm toward the back so who really cares. If I enter age group at least I get to start with a few of my tri friends (until the gun goes and they're G O N E!!)

    I think the A/C divisions are wonderful though. It gives the heavier person the opportunity to compete against others of the same weight. No matter how you look at it…lugging 165 lbs on a bike is NEVER going to compete with lugging 118 (until you go down hill 🙂 ). Who really cares?? Let people compete whatever their weight/age/ability. As for the hardcore triathletes that think this sport is only for elites, then stick with your elite group. The A/C's shouldn't impact you one bit. There are snobs in every crowd, and then there are the rest of us who want to share the love of triathlon, empower everyone to do this.

    And I stick by the magnet I got you "Athena…Queen of KickAss!!"

  • Trisaratops

    April 10, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Great post!

    First off, you kick ass. So anyone who is sending you nasty emails = d-bag.

    I am 5"8 and always on the cusp of Athena. My fighting weight is 145 or so, but I'm usually right around 148-150. On my Ironman Day, I weighed in at 153. I haven't raced as an Athena, but that's mostly because I'm a head case enough on race day and I don't want to weigh myself to add to it. I think it's a fabulous idea, because as a taller and non-waify chick, I know I would have a hard time hanging with the 5 feet, 100 pound soaking wet girls just on physics alone. So I'm not really comprehending why anyone would want to get rid of the class.

    At Lifetime last year, I saw the Athena podium and OMG. They were about 5'11, muscular, supermodels. Seriously. Then I heard another person behind me say, "See? That's not fair. Those girls shouldn't be racing Athena. It's not fair to people like me who are 'real' Athenas."

    So I do believe there is some girl on girl crime here.

    Whoever qualifies and wants to race as an Athena has every right to, and to rock on with her bad self.

    Hope you are back to training and feel better soon!

  • Swim Bike Mom

    April 10, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    TriSaraTops – yes! I could not agree with you more… girl on girl crime – that's exactly what I was looking for… You are awesome. Thanks!

  • Stacie L.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Excellent post! I signed up for the second sprint tri as an Athena not even realizing I was supposed to be embarrassed. My same-sized friends looked at me like I was crazy. You can't hide much in the spandex clothes so why not take the chance to race those also hauling around some extra weight?? I would have finished in the middle of my age group but came in second in the Athena division. The power of this sport should not be reserved for one body type. We can all benefit from the magic.

  • Corey

    April 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    This is a great post. Kind of like Louise above, my weight hovers around 145 – 150, but I am fit, run a sub-1:45 half-marathon and a sub-3:45 marathon. I am not trying to make the point that I am "fast" because of course fast is relative to each individual…just that it doesn't matter what we weigh, it is about the individual and their capabilities (thin, fit, skinny, fat, whatever). When I am on the heavier end of my weight, I don't compete in Athena, not because I am embarrassed or ashamed but because I want to see how well I can do in my age group. That is my choice. What category we CHOOSE to compete in (or NOT compete in) is a personal choice, but its really all about that we are all out there doing good things for our health and our bodies and having fun! Thank you for your words!

  • Tri Geekess

    April 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Nice post. I am a steady 150+/-2 pounder. I am thin and DENSE. You are right – there are a lot of opinions! I have considered (out loud) racing Athena before and have been shut out by another letting me know the category was not put there for me. In the end I always choose to race in the age group – because I am competitive with those little girls. 🙂 I choose Category 2 or 4 (whose average is 3…but I'm not a 3) 😛

  • Mommy Mo

    April 10, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    I recently found your blog and can I just say- I LOVE YOU?!!! I am rocking 170-175 lbs (5'6") and well, I do not foresee me ever being anything BUT Athena- ha! I am working towards my first tri this year but I have run 5K's, 10K's and half marathons. The first time I saw the Athena category (coincendentally for a 5K of all things), I couldn't decide how I felt. Then I decided I did indeed belong in this category and I placed SEVENTH- eek!!! I know there is no way in HELL I would EVER place without Athena and I may never place again, BUT I did- once : ).

    Fist pump for Athena!!!!

  • Erin

    April 11, 2012 at 6:09 am

    I do care though! As a triathlete that is over 200 pounds I would love the opportunity to compete with other people that are more in my weight class than 150 (soon to be 165). I can't ever place in my age group, but I would love to feel competitive with people closer to my same weight. wish I could sign/start a petition to get the Athena category to change. As someone over 200 pounds, it seems really wrong that I am competing with 150 pound women in the Athena category. Even more wrong is the idea that a 150 pound would be concerned overweight!

    • Musicmom

      October 4, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      I agree with you there! I am definitely an Athena, have been for years, but that’s not going to stop me from doing my first sprint- Tri in 3 weeks. It’s nice to know at 225 lbs that I am not being compared to 118 pound women, but at my fittest, size 8 ( pre- children) , I still would have been considered an athena? ….

  • Irene

    April 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I just found your blog and I LOVE it!

    I completed my first Iron Girl triathlon in 2009 at 192 pounds. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt empowered, invincible, like superwoman!

    My second Iron Girl was in 2010 and I was about 200 pounds. Last year, I finished the Danskin Triathlon at about 205 pounds.

    Yeah, the numbers are going up…ugh.

    This year, I am registered for 3 sprint triathlons and currently weigh 215.6 pounds. (Of course, I am also on a weight loss plan).

    My whole point is, ANYONE can do a triathlon, as long as you train and start small. To me, the sprint triathlon is the perfect foray into triathlon and allows the newbie to see what it's really all about.

    BTW – I always register as an Athena and am proud to do so. I love representing the often overlooked.

  • sugarmagnolia70

    April 12, 2012 at 3:00 am

    Let me tell you, size means nothing! I am beat on a regular basis in the swim, bike AND run by women who weight a lot more than me. I love how triathlon brings people of all shapes and sizes. It's all about fitness, not size.

  • DixieChick

    April 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog while foolishly looking for some last-minute guidance on my first 70.3 which is in give or take eight days. After reading all the glowing "I rocked, the swim was easy, the bike awesome, the run even better!" blogs, your Miami report was absolutely what I needed to read. Down to earth, real, but with a kick-ass finish time.

    Anyway, I'm with sugarmagnolia on this one. Triathlons are about fitness, who cares how big, little, wide, thin you are. Anyone who claims that triathletes need to be, look, or perform a certain way misses the whole point of a triathlon: At the end of the day, you're racing yourself, and no one else.

  • Angie

    April 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Great post! This is my first time to your blog, and I can't wait to read through it. I am a 42 year old mother of 4 (one an infant) who got into the tris a couple of years ago and love them! I have sought out blogs of other racers like me and am glad to find yours!

    I didn't know about the rule change, which will make me not eligible for Athena next year (unless I gain weight 🙂 ). I actually have always thought that the Athena weight should be slightly higher to be comparable with the Clydesdale weight, so I'm somewhat surprised they changed Clydesdale, as well. I'm not rejoicing being out of the category by rule change, but if I got to what I consider my ideal weight of around 150 and fell out of the category, I would rejoice to be thinner!

    I always race Athena if they have the category, because in my first race, a huge sprint (or sprint+ because all of the distances are longer than standard) I was in the Athena group and felt so much camaraderie with my fellow Athenas. We were all talking while setting up transition and while waiting for our swim leg. Then I placed 3rd!

    My good friend who often races with me and qualifies for Athena is too embarrassed to register as an Athena. She feels bad about her weight and doesn't want to advertise it. But, as a previous commenter said, spandex doesn't lie! Just because I have an A on my calf and she has her age doesn't make people automatically think that I weigh more than she does!

  • Theresa @ActiveEggplant

    April 14, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Geeze, I've been meaning to get over here and comment since the day you posted this (darn work network that blocks every blog under the sun!)

    I'm a PROUD Athena and likely always will be – I'm 6'0 and weigh well above 200lbs. Even at my absolute fittest and thinnest I still weighed in around 180, solidly into the Athena category.

    My physical/athletic abilities have NEVER been similar to other women my age…but my abilities have been similar to women of ANY AGE that are built like me…and THAT is why I race in the Athena division.

    I wish there wasn't so much negativity about the categories – whether its coming from women saying it's not fair for "bigger" racers to have their own category, or if it's Athena-eligible women that are "too embarrassed" to be "singled out because of my weight".

    We all come in various shapes and sizes – and we all have different abilities. Why NOT race against people that are similar to you??

  • D.R.

    April 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I am a fellow Athena girl, and love it! I love that I don't have to compete against the 5'2, 118 pounds (dripping wet) girls. Because frankly, it's not the same. (I'm an engineer, so I understand the math and logic behind the division.) Will I ever place? Probably not. But it's nice to know my ranking compared to those that are most similar to me.

    Also, this is the first post of yours I have ever read, and I love it. You are now in my feed of blogs I follow! 🙂

  • Victoria (The District Chocoholic)

    April 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I race Athena and fall into category 1 – right now. In 2013 I'll be too light for it. My natural weight while I'm training is just above the current cutoff, and it seems silly to put on weight just to stay in it, since I just like to race at a good healthy weight.

    I did a 70.3 last weekend and somebody made an obnoxious comment about my racing in the category. You might be interested in reading about it

  • MemeInSJrz

    November 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    First of all …. I love love love your blogging. Sometimes I laugh audibly and others I simply ponder and get inspired. With that said….. I am a 5foot 3inched 168lb who proudly competes as an Athena! I havent weighed less than 145 in 18years, and at that point I was a size 2, hungry,, and very unhappy girl! I openly refer to myself as “Fat Girl”….kinda like Fat Amy in that movie…..”so twig bitches dont do it behind my back”….yes, that is a funny ha ha so please laugh.

    Recently my daugter and I did the ABF 10k MudRun, completed almost every obstacle, and had a blast doing it. During the next to last obstacle I made my standard “Fat Girl floats” comment while swimming across a very chilly body of water with my kid in tow. The skinny mini in front of us got so offended, shot me a nasty look, and told me “that’s horrible”. If not for my kid right by my side I may have sunk her to the bottom for a minute . Really, who was she to have an opinion! She was the one my kid overheard making a comment about “the big girl with freckles” BTW? I was the big girl with freckle and she was the one my kid blew away climbing 8ft walls as Skinny Mini couldn’t get her self over the top!

    I look at it this way….I successfully completed my first two tri’s this past summer. Both completed as an Athena. Neither finished in landspeed record time, but nonetheless….. I cannot wait for this season! Never underestimate the Fat Girl….I’m strong, fit, and comfortable being me!

    Courage to Tri,
    Strength to Endure,
    Resolve to Finish!

  • Jeannette

    February 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    When I first started triathlon i competed in age group and always finished in the top half. Not bad. It wasnt until recently I decided to be proud of and flaunt that im 5’10” and 170 lbs of pure muscle. I have worked hard for this physique and Im not afraid to show that Im not petite and I can still rock the sport!

  • Kara Hinz

    June 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    I love the Athena category at 200lbs it is the only chance I have at the podium. It’s not that I am unfit I’m just built to throw hammers (I was a hammer thrower in college) more than swim, bike, and run but I love doing it and this gives me the chance to compete.

  • Xanaba

    October 24, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Just wanted to say that I am really glad to have come across your blog. I was just registering for the NYC Triathlon next year when I saw for the first time that Athena Group option. I opted for the Athena group as I am 6.1″ and way above the 165 lbs treshold but got the courage mainly from your posting. So just wanted to say thank you 🙂

  • Lindsay

    April 1, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I’m new to your blog, I discovered it yesterday when I started researching doing a mini-sprint for the first time ever. 250y swim/ 9 mile bike/ 2 mile run.

    I’m 300+ lbs and have started clean-eating last fall and have started lap- swimming (400 yards in 20 min)and can walk a 5k without blinking, so thought joining the race would be a great goal to focus training on.

    I learned late last night about the Athena group and I personally think it’s demeaning- why does the group have to be separated by size at all? I also don’t understand why there have to be “plus” size clothes, why can’t they all just be clothes? It makes sense to separate on speeds, beginner vs expert, etc. but not size. size is nothing.

    • Josie

      December 5, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      April, I’m late to the party on your post. — but the Athena class for ladies levels the playing field, cause if your hauling more your working harder than a lighter person doing the same thing.
      It’s a great way to compare your progress, boosts morale and you can get a good visual of where you rank in the pack of people with similar builds.

  • Bluetrigirl

    November 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    thank god – an intelligent post! I am proud to be a triathlete. I have raced Athena for years. I happen to be almost 6 feet tall and have raced at weights between 155 and 170 over the years depending on my muscle mass. Yes, I was a heavyweight rower in college. I appreciate the class because I cannot compete with the 5’4″ whippets. Yes, I kicked their butt in rowing, but not in triathlon. and that’s OK. I do it because I love it – but I do like that the playing field is leveled for us – in our own way. Just like girls who were 5’4″ had no chance of making a D1 varsity heavyweight crew – the lightweight class allowed them to compete – and that was great. People who get mad about this need to mind their own business. I happen to be proud that I choose to race. And there are times when I need to race age group – when there is no category – and I gladly do it. Just mind your own racing, people and be excited for anybody who chooses to!! However, I will say that I have endured dirty looks from shorter ladies over the years – especially when I placed well in the category. If you have to haul the weight, you have to haul it!!

  • Josie

    December 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I loved this.
    I’m someone who is rather indifferent or has more of an average guy mentality even though I am an Athena runner. way over the 165 pound mark.
    You gotta start somewhere and if you don’t wanna dodge me, start in front I say!
    If you need to walk just signal and get over to the side. Keep on truckin’ Mama!!

  • Alisha Moorhead

    May 11, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Just stumbled upon this particular post as I search out more and more info on triathlon. I’ve run 2 races thus far in my new tri life. A Sprint on April 18th and then a mini the very next weekend. I shrugged my shoulders and placed an X on the Athena category when I signed up for the mini. Hell why not, like you said, I’m already wearing the spandex so I should be proud I”m out here and moving. You know what? I won the category and when I went back and looked at all the finishers in my age group I wasn’t even dead last. So I will wear my Athena badge proudly. If I ever graduate I will be thankful, but I won’t be embarrassed that I was (and still am) there.

  • Musicmom

    October 4, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    I don’t think anyone should be upset that there is an Athena/ Clydsdale caregory. The race officials are just trying to level the playing field. No one is being singled out or made fun of because there is an A on their leg rather than an age. And at 44 and well over the 165 cutoff, I am glad I can go ” do my thing” without being compared to some skinny 118 lbs. super mom who happened to be born the same year! Personally I think Athena should be 200+ if Clydsdales are 225+, that would eliminate the 6 ft muscular supermodels who qualify at 165 pounds which equals one of our legs… ?

  • Heather

    August 1, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    I enjoyed reading this. Last year, I was an unintenational 3. It was my first tri, and I had just had a baby 3 months before. When I signed up for my race as an age grouper I was sure that I would not be an athena anymore when race day came, because I was still hopefully losing baby weight. Well, come race day, I could have qualified as an athena still, but I don’t think my post-partum self could have handled it. I just wanted to focus on the fact that I was accomplishing something significant with a young baby and not have the scale bring me down that day. This year, I am doing the same race, and don’t qualify as an athena, but I don’t miss the cut off by much. Now, though, my attitude is different, and I have embraced the fact that I am healthy and muscular and will probably never get down into normal on the BMI scale no matter how much I work out.

  • Cyndi

    January 15, 2017 at 7:26 am

    I just saw this post and was very encouraged. I did my first sprint tri in September 2016 as a 250 lb. Athena and came in 3rd…and I didn’t finish last. I think it was more important for me to “get over myself” being in spandex than it was to worry about what anyone else was thinking. Everyone at the race was so encouraging to me that it almost made me want to cry. I really enjoy the training and because I am goal oriented, it helps me stick with it every day. I am hooked on tris now as I turn 50 this year and I hope to work myself out of Athena eventually, but I am going to enjoy every minute.

  • Chantelle Weiss

    May 9, 2017 at 9:52 am

    I love you post! I started my triathlon journey after my husband completed his first Ironman. He inspired me so much to try something new. I remember going to his races and telling my self “I could never do this”. Then my husband decided to take some time off from racing so I decided to learn how to swim and bought my very first road bike and sign up for a sprint triathlon. I first did it to help me lose weight but I got so much more out of it during my journey. After competing in my first race I was hooked and decided I needed to push my self and signed up for my first 70.3 in Arizona that fall. It was a tough journey with many highs and lows but I never realized how mentally strong I had become. rsfing my first 70.3 was one I’d th toughest things I had ever done and it challenged me both mentally and physically but to have support from so many family and friends made it all worth it. At that moment I knew this journey was so much more then losing weight and it was about following a dream I never thought was possible. We all come in different shapes and sizes and we all have different stories as to why we train and race in triathlons and that is why I love this community so much. Thank you for always keeping your posts real, you are amazing and huge inspiration.

  • LB

    September 18, 2017 at 12:07 am

    It is great that tall women get to choose, but us shorties don’t. I didn’t start Triathlon until the 165+ rule change. If we use BMI, at my 5’3″, I would be close to obese. Whereas anyone that is 5’9″ or taller would be normal. As is, I hover around 150+ which is still overweight and not very pleasing to the eyes in spandex. My view is that Athena and Clydesdale should be an option for all that don’t fit the model body, but because I’m not tall enough I don’t really get that option.

  • Jessica Costa

    September 20, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Just started racing Athena this year and I was psyched to find the category on the signup sheet. The opportunity to compete in a race is amazing. I will never be as fast as my 110# friends, they will never want to deadlift the amount of weight I do. These are all our choices and I am psyched to have them. My only problem with Athena is the pressure I put on myself to win since I can compete. As just an age grouper I don’t stand a chance so I race against my last time vs trying to get on the podium. This weekend there are 6 women in the “A” group. We will see how it all shakes out. I love this article and mostly this “Slowly, she learns to train for the health benefits, the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment, the mental health break from the job & kids, the pushing-beyond-her-comfort zone rush…and the excitement of crossing a finish line that previously seemed impossible.” Thanks for this blog post


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