You’re a What!

author : Michael
comments : 0

I’m a C-L-Y-D-E-S-D-A-L-E! Many people in the sport know the division is there, but many of them think that it's a 'fat boys division.' So what constitutes a Clydesdale? Why even have this class?

You’re a What!

I’m a C-L-Y-D-E-S-D-A-L-E! Many people in the sport know the division is there, but many of them think that it is the “fat boys division.”

So what constitutes a Clydesdale? A Clydesdale Athlete is usually defined as any male athlete over 200 lbs. and any woman athlete over 145 lbs. (aka Athenas). Most races will have two different classes for men and women 0-39 and 39 and above usually called the Masters.

The American Clydesdale Horse Society says this about the breed of horse:

"Male or female, a Clydesdale should look handsome, weighty and powerful, so that the impression is given of quality and weight, rather than grossness and bulk."

I guess that could be a compliment.

Some ask, “Why even have this class?” Proponents of the class argue that other sports such as boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, have divisions based on weight to promote the fairness of competition among athletes. Larger triathletes are definitely at a disadvantage because of the physics. Yes, there can be exceptions to this, but for the most part, larger athletes are at a disadvantage. For instance, no matter what your size, the next time you are out on a group bike ride, watch the smaller riders compared to the larger riders on a hill. For the most part, you will see the physics take over and you will notice that the larger the rider, the more effort one has to put out to pull a hill. The argument can be made that most sports with weight classes involve physical contact or they are sports where weight can give you an advantage and even with weight lifting the physics of the sport tend to play to the larger lifters.

Personally, I think that most Clydesdales and Athenas sign up for the weight class as a matter of pride. I didn’t understand this until I attended my first triathlon with a Clydesdale division. While standing in the transition area, these guys started showing up who were six feet-five inches tall and weighed a whopping two hundred-one pounds. For the last two years, I have verbally proposed in the transition area of many triathlons that the Clydesdales should be subject to the pencil test. What is the pencil test? Thanks for asking! Each triathlete competing in this division would not have to weigh in at registration. Instead, he would be required bend over and stick a pencil under his stomach. Once the pencil is securely in place, the competitor would be required to stand up. At the point when the competitor is standing erect, if the pencil has not hit the floor, they can race in the Clydesdale class.

Well, to be quite serious, we often joke about the Clydesdale class because many see the class as an opportunity to be more competitive than with the age groupers. The reality of it is that many of the Clydesdales would have placed higher if they had entered their age group. We could actually have more weight classes, but would that make it more competitive? I don’t know, but if we are not careful, before long we would have classes for those with tattoos and those without tattoos.

What do I think about the Clydesdale division or, for a matter of fact, for all divisions? I know that I am going to ruffle some feathers, but hear me out. There are some competitors who live and die by placing in races and I guess if that is what it’s all about for them, then so be it. But when you break it down, chances are that the majority of you reading this article will not ever place in an event, unless you are the only one to show for that division. But on the other hand, most of us aren’t out there to place. We are content with racing just a little faster than we did last race. As far as I am concerned, they can do away with most of the divisions and have just a pro men’s and women’s division and then have amateur divisions for male and female at 39 and under and 40 and above.

Triathlon, for me, isn’t about placing or winning. Every competition I enter is an opportunity for me to better myself and beat my own best time. I don’t need to be in any class or division to do that. You don’t need that either. Resolve yourself to make every effort to be in a class by yourself! That’s what it’s all about.



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date: September 19, 2004


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