Some of you may have seen my Facebook post from this past weekend with the picture of me standing on a 2nd place podium holding hardware. I would like to clarify (not minimize or qualify) what that podium spot is and what it means.
I race in a category called Athena (Goddess of Power & War). This category is for women who weigh 150+ pounds. There I said it, I weigh more than 150 pounds. I am 5’9” on a muscular frame and I own every single one of those pounds proudly. There is also a category for men over 200 pounds called Clydesdale, Ken actually raced in this division for his first duathlon but he is now safely out of that category and has no desire to return.
Few women register for races as Athena. I am not sure if they don’t want to admit publicly they are over 150 pounds or if they feel the category isn’t as dignified as age group or they just want to be in a more competitive group of women in their age group. My age group is 40-44 and let me tell you these women are FAST!
Racing Athena does not diminish me, my fellow competitors or the hardware I brought home with me. Athena is who I am. When I look at my fellow Athena’s who are mostly built like me with a taller frame, plenty of muscle and some gorgeous curves thrown in I am proud of them – some of which are pretty darn fast and most can smoke me on the run. I know a lot of Athena’s from previous races and most of them are Moms like me who came into endurance racing later in life. There is a misconception that Athena’s are fat girls and Clydesdale’s are fat guys but that is not what these categories were created for. If you question who is in these categories I suggest you come to a race and stick around for award presentation, the men and women in these categories are tall, fit, strong and proud.
This past weekend there were ten Athena’s registered for the Olympic distance triathlon. The race director split the field for Athena’s under 39 and my category is Athena 40+. Two of the women in my category did not start the race or did not finish the race, their results are not posted. I came in second out of three. I was the first overall Athena in the water in both categories and I tied for third on the bike overall. When I collected my hardware the race director said “I can’t believe you would even go for this category”. I am not sure exactly what he meant by that but it sounded like he feels Athena is somehow less than age group and I imagine a lot of athletes feel this way. Many women finished this race before me. Many women were faster in the swim, bike and run. Most of them registered age group, many of them qualify for Athena. I walked away with hardware (trophy) and they received a finisher medal.
I must say when it was official I had come in 2nd in my division I was hesitant to post the picture but here’s the deal, I have 5 children including three daughters and I would NEVER want them to feel less than so why would I allow that for myself? I am Athena!