Clydesdale and Athena divisions open up potential for more race participants.
DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World
I've seen races with Clydesdale categories. As an XL runner, I'd find it attractive to race against others in my weight category- I might win! But how does the racing community view this? Is it viewed like age categories? Or would I just be the "fastest of the fatties?" The name "Clydesdale" really doesn't help that image. Please share your thoughts.
To my recollection, the Clydesdale Division surfaced in the early 80's and was mainly a men's weight division. Shortly following the introduction of the Clydesdale Division came the Athena Division for women (weight division) named after the Greek goddess of heroic endeavor as well as wisdom, courage, and inspiration. I think that name is a perfect alternative for women and would think women would be honored to be the winner of an Athena Division.
Each race has to decide for themselves what and how many award categories they want to offer. They can vary from overall placing, to age group categories in either 5-year or 10-year age groups. Some go further and offer awards for local finishers, as well as various other unique categories. And now there are weight categories, aptly named Clydesdale and Athena. Many events choose to include them, some however, don't. I would contact the race well in advance to ascertain if these divisions are in fact offered and if not- and you are interested in seeing them do so- I would advocate for them sighting increased interest these days and potential for additional entrants in their race.
I always wondered where the Clydesdale Division originated. For me, it was back around 1983. I was directing a triathlon in the Boston area, which Bud Light sponsored. A few athletes approached me and asked if I would consider a weight class division. I went to the local Bud Light office and asked if they would donate some prizes for this new division. Sitting in the office were these two big stuffed Clydesdale horses. I said, "I'll take them" and the rest is history...for me anyway. I called it the Clydesdale Division. I'm sure someone else somewhere came up with this concept, too.
I hope this helps!