Earlier this year, the esteemable Swim Bike Mom helped draw my attention to the new rules for the weight categories (as dictated by the USA Triathlon). As of 2013, Men weighing over 220 lbs could compete under a separate category ‘Clydesdales’ while women over 165 lbs could choose to compete as ‘Athenas’. The old weight limits for these categories were 200 and 150 lbs respectively.
The purpose of these weight categories was to acknowledge that regardless of individual fitness, some people just don’t have the build to finish with times comparable to elites (even within age groups), and they should be recognized for their achievements relative to others with similar builds. Which I found to be a noble sentiment.
|Jan Frodeno in front; Simon Whitfield behind. 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing|
I’m just “a few donuts away” from the old Clydesdale limit (in fact, thanks to the holidays, if they held a triathlon today, I could jump right in). Yet, I never felt that tempted to enrol as one. Regardless of how much I’m carrying around the middle, my build skeleton isn’t the one of a typical runner/triathlete; I’m broader in the shoulders for one thing. Still, look at the difference between a Jan Frodeno and Simon Whitfield. Frodeno’s a bigger guy too.
That’s probably a reasonable comparison to my build (minus plenty of body fat, of course), and Frodeno didn’t need a different weight class; he won the Gold! The Clydesdale weight class should be more for men built like linebackers, and I think the 220 lb limit is more in line with that. It could even be increased from my point of view.
Competing in these weight classes enables people to get a little closer to the top ten (albeit an arbitrary one) or even a podium spot. That’s not really why I participate in triathlon though, and I doubt I’m alone in this sentiment. I’ll be leaving the Clydesdale category alone; the donuts will have to wait. Well, maybe just one…