I’ve been asked a lot recently what is Athena and why do I race it. The first question is easy: What is Athena? In the triathlon world Athena is a racing category for women who weigh over 165 pounds. If you choose to race in this category you are removed from your age group.

Now the hard part: Why? The first time I raced in Athena after a long hiatus (because I finally was doing a race that offered it again) I blogged about why I choose to register as Athena instead of age group and I still feel the exact same way. You can read the article here. Racing Athena symbolizes accepting myself as an athletes and not trying to conform to a model of what we might think a triathlete is supposed to be. We all come in different shapes and sizes and have different strengths. Athenas celebrate our uniqness and just focus on becoming better, period. This time around I asked my fellow Athenas for their WHY:

I’m proud of who I am. I race Athena to show women that you don’t have to be a certain size to be competitive. –Ashley Miller

I am 51 years old, I combine strength, power and attitude into the body of an Athena athlete. Why would I choose anything else. -Amy Graham

I compete as an Athena because I’m no longer ashamed of who I am or how I look. I no longer count myself out because of a number on a scale. This group has taught me a pride I’ve never had before. I even view my pictures different. There’s a strength with being an Athena. Go ahead and write that A on my calf ❤ -Cindy Casedy

I AM an Athena, it’s not just about competing. It’s about embracing my whole self. Why hide my body when it has managed to do amazing things? Self love is hard. But that’s what Athena is. Learning to love not just those pieces we carefully post but the entire flawed and wondrous whole. –Diana Bridges

Because you don’t have to look like a triathlete to be a triathlete. -Nicole Picard Kurz 

Because it’s a reminder to me that I AM healthy! -Katharine Posner

Because Athena’s are awesome and so supportive. -Sarah Scotchfish

Because it’s where I feel I belong. I was sick of being compared to super skinny no body fat women. That’s not me. I’ve always felt that women like me were so much more supportive and got my reasons and didn’t give me the “well isn’t your goal cute” smug smile. -Jill Maxey

Because athena’s are supportive! – Dori Newton

Because I’m not your average triathlete, and my body can do amazing things. -Debbie Waldo

Because I don’t need to be skinny to be bad ass. And Athenas are an astoundingly supportive group. I’ll never be “real runner skinny”. I’ll never be under 165 #, and that’s okay. I’m healthy, happy and I like racing women just like me. -Laura Smith

Because I am a 6ft tall Amazon goddess. I haven’t been under 165 lbs since I was 24 years old with single digit body fat that was completely unsustainable. Equally important to the size issue has been the supportive Athena community. I have learned a lot from this group of like minded souls. -Diana Shaw

Because I was never an athlete growing up and racing Athena gives me power, confidence, and the strength of an Olympian, no matter how slow I go or how fast I finish. -Julie Bryan

I’ve worked really hard to lose 200lbs so far, and I still have weight left to lose—the reality of life is I’ll probably never be under 165lbs, and that’s completely okay. There’s no shame in the Athena category—it’s an amazing group of women that build each other up and challenge each other to be their best self every single day. They remind me that I’m strong, I’m driven to achieve some lofty goals, and I’m learning every day how much more my body is capable of doing—it’s incredible! –Stephanie Lueras

It’s ok if people don’t “get it” because it’s not about them, it’s about us. It’s about our confidence and self-cceptance which allows us to race fiercely. I love this tribe I’ve found through triathlons and I wouldn’t dream of trading them. #athenaproud #athenastrong #createalifeyoulove

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