Saturday, December 06, 2008

Farewell, Athenas

Like my Athena friends, it's become quite unlikely that I'll ever elect to participate in another NAS race: They have eliminated the Athena and Clydesdale divisions.

I usually make a point of supporting the Athena division in races because I believe in it. Body weight, pure and simple, increases the metabolic cost of locomotion. Athena and Clydesdale divisions simply allow more competitive body-weight groupings of athletes in triathlon and road racing, just as it does in martial arts, weightlifting, wrestling, and other sports in which body weight strongly influences athletic performance. Body weight is a far greater influence on performance than 5 or even 10-year age groupings.

In Beach 2 Battleship iron-distance triathlon that I've entered next year, I've entered as an age-grouper, since they offer age-weight divisions only for men (open Clydesdales and Masters Clydesdales) and only one weight class for women (Athenas all ages). However, they only had two Athena entrants last year.

I just wish there was a strong advocacy group in place for weight-class athletes. However, since naturally few of them make it into the overall awards, they tend to become second-class marginalized participants in triathlon. NAS will find there are few pro triathletes objecting to this decision, I'm sure.

First they came for the Clydesdales and Athenas . . . then for the challenged athletes . . . then for the older age-groupers. . . .


Sarah said...

I've done a lot of setup races in the last two years and they've never had anything other than the one Athena category. I'd wager that's because of participation. You should send them an email -- I know they'll be much more responsive than NAS about that sort of thing.

On the subject of NAS, it's a very sad thing because it clearly sends the message that Ironman is only for thin people. While I've dreamed of hearing my name called and told I'm an Ironman, I know my finances won't allow me to do that for several more years and because I have a great relationship with setup, I'm much more likely now to race B2B.

Nancy Toby said...

Yeah, I don't truly blame them for not offering age group Athenas when they only got 2 entries last time. It makes sense to offer competitive divisions that attract entries, not just hardware giveaways.

I'd definitely enter more of their races if they were a little closer to me! They have a good reputation.

Sarah said...

Some of their Virginia races aren't all that far from you and they also have the General Smallwood in Maryland, though I think that might be a longer drive than the ones in Yorktown and Jamestown.

Triathlonmom said...

I think NAS is making a huge mistake. I wish I could do something to change their mind.