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Digital Running Club » Ask the Experts, Columns » Ask the Experts: Clydesdales and Fillies

Ask the Experts: Clydesdales and Fillies

Last week, I was sitting at the awards ceremony of a 5K and they announced winners for the Clydesdale and Filly divisions. I don’t recall racing against any horses. What does that mean?
-John H. Butte, MT

Although age group divisions are pretty standard across all running events, one often comes upon other specialized divisions. Many races have special divisions for runners in the armed forces, or runners who’ve survived cancer. Less common are races that have divisions for clydesdales and fillies.

The clydesdale division is typically for men who weigh more than 200 lbs, although there is no standard – so the weight limit may vary from race to race. Many assume this is the “fat guy’s division”, but that’s not always the case. The division is often won by a very tall, muscular man with quite a bit of running experience under his proverbial belt.

Likewise, the filly division (sometimes called the Athena division) is for women who are over a certain weight. The limit is typically 150 lbs, but again, there’s no standard so it will vary from race to race. Clydesdale and filly divisions are uncommon because of the logistical concerns of weighing competitors. So you’re only likely to see them in small, local races. Runners do, however, use the terms on blogs and running forums as a way to describe themselves.

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Brian Darrow is a running coach in St. Petersburg, FL who specializes in online coaching for beginners. Follow him at

Filed under: Ask the Experts, Columns

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