Endurance athletes such as triathletes are traditionally considered to have a small body frame and low body weight; however, with the widespread growth and popularity of triathlons around the world, triathlon race directors have created various race categories for triathletes of all ability levels and body sizes. For example, the Clydesdale division is designed to award the male triathletes who have a large body frame and more weight.
While most triathlon divisions are organized by age group, the Clydesdale division separates the athletes according to body weight. Males must weigh over 200 lbs., while women weighing over 150 lbs. are entered into the “Athena” division. Race directors and organizations determine if the race will have Clydesdale and Athena divisions.
After being classified in the Clydesdale division, competitors are broken into two age groups. The open category includes any Clydesdale athletes 39 years old and younger and the masters division including any Clydesdale athletes 40 and older. Races might present awards to the top finishers in each age division for the Clydesdales.
Most elite triathlons have a specific starting order -- or wave start -- so that the professional and elite triathletes start first. In these events, Clydesdale triathletes must qualify or have a fast race time in order to start at the front. If the race doesn’t have a specific starting order, Clydesdale triathletes are allowed to start in any order.
If a race director determines that the triathlon will have a Clydesdale division, the race entry form will include a space for qualified athletes to indicate their division. In order to be entered into the Clydesdale division, athletes must select the appropriate category at the time of registration. After the race, most triathlons award the top three Clydesdale athletes in both age categories.