Friday, July 26, 2013

No longer a Clydesdale: Rule Change not Weight Loss

A lot of people who race in the Clydesdale division celebrate when they no longer qualify as a Clydesdale because they have lost their excess weight.  This happened to me though it wasn’t something I crowed about.  I was certainly happy to lose the weight but my heart is with the Clydesdales and I figured that, in time, my body would once again be there as well.  I got down to 187 but it was murder to get there and it lasted for maybe a day or two of severe dehydration.  Even sticking at 195 took monumental effort and I figured it wasn’t something that was sustainable.

I entered this season at 208, became sick almost as soon as I started my spring weight loss and bounced up to 212.  I have not dipped below 207 all year but I’m also a year older and I recognize that while I could probably peel off another pound or two, I’m probably not likely to head south of 200 again.

My new approach to a more sustainable lifestyle will involve a combination of running and strength training, specifically, Olympic lifting.  I’m a big guy, I should do some big guy things and the Olympic lifting is something that was an early dream of mine, possibly my first dream with respect to sports.

In any case, I also thought that maybe I’d pick back up racing in the Clydesdale division but I soon discovered that I was no longer a Clydesdale, at least not in the eyes of USAT.

On January first of this year a new USAT rule came into effect that places a Clydesdale at 220 pounds, not the former 200 pounds.  I do not expect to weigh that much again and of course I’m not going to gain weight to race as a Clydesdale.

The reasoning behind USAT’s ruling is that all athletes have gotten larger by about 10 percent since the Clydesdale and Athena divisions were created in 1997, yes, the Athena division is now at 165 instead of the old 150.  USAT assured athletes that the weight divisions weren’t just fat people divisions developed so non-competitive people could get awards too but given everything I’ve seen that argument is pretty unconvincing.  In honesty, I have no idea what legitimate reason USAT has for having the weight divisions other than as feel good awards.  They have never treated the division with respect, there are no rankings, everyone is dumped into age groups, and there are no legitimate Clydesdale and Athena national competitions, the divisions have no age groups other than the 39 and under – 40 + split and nine times out of ten when the awards are given the Clydesdale and Athena awards are not just last but often forgotten until an athlete reminds the race director.  This happened far more with Athena’s than Clydesdales though.

Anyway, I’m no longer a Clydesdale in the eyes of USAT but I will always be one at heart, regardless of the rules, regardless of my weight.  I am a big guy racing in a small guy’s game.


  1. Actually I didn't even know what Athenas and Clydesdales were until
    I ran into yours and Misty's blogs.

    I would think the biggest problem with being big is heat dissipation. But you seem to do pretty well there actually. I guess you have good acclimation.

    1. You are right, heat dissipation is a problem for largeer people but I'm not sure how significant that impact is on racing. There used to be a pretty big pro triathlete who had a lot of problems with heat dissipation and that seemed to be the main issue that kept him out of the top couple slots at Kona. However, the bigger issue is the energy expendature necessary to move the extra weight. As far as I know this is mostly relevent on the run unless the bike has a lot of climbing. from everything I've read your run time decreases two seconds per mile per pound. However, I think this is just an estimate for people who are still within a pretty healthy weight range for their frame. I once saw a performance graph that showed that speed slowed more dramatically once an athlete was heavier than about 165 pounds. Anyway, you can work hard and still be very competative at local races if you aren't too big, probably north of 215. It's all for fun anyway.