It’s been a hot minute since I’ve raced with the Athena category option which means I was thrown into deep consideration about the big question. Register Age Group or Athena?

If you are in Facebook groups or triathlon forums you’ve probably seen the topic come up and it sometimes gets heated with a lot of different points of view. If this is your first time hearing about this “Athena” thing basically it’s an additional category some races provide. The USAT standard is if a woman weighs 165 pounds or more they can choose to race in the Athena category instead of their Age Group. Men have an equivalent Clydesdale category and qualify at 220 pounds. If you qualify it’s a personal choice how you want to register and compare yourself. You are not obligated to sign up one way or the other and you ALWAYS have to opt in and choose to register as Athena.

BAWG at Athena Nationals 2016

I’ve seen a lot of view points over the last few years of women projecting when it is or is not ok to register as an Athena. Common stances I’ve seen are to register as Athena until you are competitive in your age group and “graduate” to your age group, look at results and see where you are more likely to podium based on historical trends, or only register if you “look” Athena meaning if you qualify because you’re tall that is considered “cheating” (this one totally confuses me because I’m not quite sure what an Athena is “supposed” to look like).

This is what a proud Athena at 195 lbs looks like.

At one point when I was a novice on my triathlon journey I could understand some of these opinions but there is so much more to being an Athena. What it truly means to BE an Athena is to accept yourself as you are now and race to the best of your ability. It’s more about self-acceptance than it is about a scale. In fact you should throw that damn scale away. I’m heavier now than racing a few years ago but FASTER because I’m STRONGER. A scale only tells you the¬†earth’s gravitational pull on your body. What it doesn’t tell you is how much muscle is in your quads, how much faster you made it up a hill yesterday, and especially what your composition is. I have had quite a few friends ask me in the past few months how great I look and how much weight I’ve lost, zero since twelve months ago. Yep, big whopping ZERO but my body has sure changed a lot as I’ve built more muscle.

So did I register Athena? Yep, and I will unless I no longer qualify but I will always be Athena at heart. Because Athena represents overcoming the battle of hating myself in the mirror, looking at performance as a gauge instead of a scale, knowing that no matter how much I weigh or how much I may battle my thyroid I’m on a journey to become stronger, faster, and healthier. Any form of transformation needs to start from a place of acceptance. No amount of change will help your state of mind if you don’t accept yourself now. This has been a hard truth to understand but it’s true for any transformation in life.

Grace Coller rocking her Betty bikini

Did you know Athena is the goddess of wisdom and war? She’s considered “the wisest, most courageous, and certainly most resourceful of the Olympian gods.” ( ) Yeah, she’s pretty kick-ass. Who wouldn’t want to race in a category named after a goddess?¬†#AthenaProud #CreateALifeYouLove

Time Trial podium with a friend

4 Comments on What does it mean to be an Athena?

  1. Love all of this! There is something else you didn’t mention, but it’s something I feel strongly about. For me Athena is more than just about me as a competitor it’s about a whole community. When I signed up for my first sprint triathlon and there was a category for women like me which could only mean one thing…I wasn’t the only one.That gave me the courage not only to sign up, but to show up on race day. Just like me there are a lot of other women afraid to show up because of fear of being out of place; an Athena category means that they are not the only one and that we accept people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities.

  2. I make it a point, when I’m not sucking wind to cheer on every person that passes me and that I pass. We are all trying to be the best we can be and that can be very hard some days. Whether you battle in the kitchen or in training it’s a daily struggle and we deserve accolades for trying, no matter what our shape or size.

  3. Great article! Goddess of War…… wow….. I knew that’s what it meant but I’ve never thought about “the war”. Every day of my life I’m in war….. usually over myself, my own mind…. or other people…. if I’m not beating myself up someone else usually is…. being satisfied in your own skin is so important and not something I’ve mastered yet but I’m getting stronger everyday! Articles like this are important for everyone, its important so others learn the struggle we face everyday and for those of us who do know there are others out there fighting the same war! Some days I’m fighting the war on Lycra and the fact that triathlon clothing was not made for the Goddess of kick ass….. or the mind games we play with ourselves in a daily basis. I am learning to be empowered and not embarrassed and it’s people like you that I’ve met that are making that possible! Great article!!

  4. There sure is a mental push pull. I love myself but the world doesn’t always love the way I look. I know I can keep getting stronger and faster and really believe this now. For me it’s learning to be patient with myself when my desire is greater than my ability. I don’t wear tight spandex in my “normal” life but for exercise, I’m all about it and proud of myself for being out there absolutely rocking it.

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