And in this corner

This weekend I am running in the Regent Run Around the Square, my first 5k race since 2006 and my first Run Around the Square since 2002. The last time I ran in that race, I entered the "heavyweight" division. If you know me, you know that although I am not skinny, I am certainly not a heavyweight. And even if I were, isn't it more important to be healthy and in shape? Which I am. How else could I run 3 to 4 miles on a regular basis? (Okay, I have not run 4 miles since the beginning of June, and I sometimes let two weeks go by before I run again. But during the school year, I was a regular runner, and trust me, I am doing just fine now.)

Who thinks up these things? Don't enough women have self-image problems without being made to feel fat when they are not (and even if they are overweight, why make a big deal about it)? Luckily for me, I think fairly highly of my physical self; at the very least, I (mostly) accept what I have, try to work on it somewhat, and just be thankful I can do what I do. And although I thought the heavyweight division was stupid, I felt inclined to join in. Why? Well, mostly because back then I was in the best shape of my life. Sure I might have weighed about 150 pounds (the cutoff is 145, but I could have sworn back then it was an even more ridiculous 140), but my body fat was around 18 percent. I was at the gym six to seven days a week doing various types of cardio and lifting weights. Entering that division was like snubbing my nose at the man. And surely a man must have come up with that weight cutoff.

The other reason I decided to check the heavyweight box on my application was because I would have to get weighed in on race day. I felt pretty confident that not too many women would want to admit being over 140/145 pounds (whatever it was then), but I was even more sure that only a handful would want to get on a scale in front of a stranger. So I figured I had a pretty good chance at coming home with some hardware, something that was important back then to a competitive me.

And I was right. In the end, I was the proud recipient of a second-place trophy in what my coworker/fellow runner and I affectionately called the "Big Girls' Trophy." I paraded that baby around the office as if it were my baby. I kept it for years, sadly disposing of it a few years ago when we put our house on the market. Wish I still had it!

Eight years later and not nearly in as good of shape, I again checked the heavyweight division box. I still think at 5'8" and just under 150 pounds, I am not overweight, but if someone wants to consider me that, whatever. Even if I don't end up with a trophy this year (and I am 99 percent sure I won't), I am hopeful this big girl can finish the race with my head held high.

Wish me luck.


Anonymous said…
that is horrible! Women have enough issues w/ their bodies and you'll categorize people who are healthy weights as HEAVY is insulting and wrong! Then, to add to the humiliation, weighing them in front of everyone!?!?!?! That is so wrong. I am not a runner so maybe I don't really understand, but why categorize by weight anyway? That's beyond insulting - to everyone!
Anonymous said…
I wonder why they have that category? In theory it could be a good idea, like if you are overweight and you want to celebrate that you are in good shape because you CAN be healthy and be overweight. But I think it should be based on a height/weight combo if not something else (BMI?). How can you compare a 5' 145 pound woman with a 5'10' 145 woman? And muscle weighs more than fat.

I bet your right that a man must have come up with that.
Sherri said…
I didn't know about the heavyweight division. Here's a funny tidbit - a lot the beautiful, unbelievably fit high schoolers (cross country runners, state-ranked swimmers, lacrosse and basketball players) I know who zip themselves into size 6 and 8 jeans could qualify as "heavyweight" based on those absurd weight restrictions. Go for it - run that heavyweight race, you fit mama!
chris h. said…
Who classifies runners by weight? I thought it was by time (so the "elite" runners could get out there first). How silly...

And is there a Lightweight category? Also not a good connotation.

Yeah, just watch me get on a scale in front of a bunch of people...NOT!
Facie said…
Let me clarify: On the race form, there is a box/section called "5k Heavyweight." Below that, it reads "If heavyweight, check appropriate box." And below that are the two check boxes, 190+ for males and 145+ for females. Following that is this statement: "Must weigh-in before race at packet pickup."

Even if that weight applies to you, you don't have to check the box/weigh in on raceday. And I think the scale is kind of off to the side, and one person confirms your weight. But, remember, I chose to enter that division (as stupid as it is).

They do still have age groups. Back when I was ultra-competitive, I knew I had a better chance of coming away with a trophy in the Big Girl's division for the reasons I mentioned. In fact, I think I ended up around 20th in my age group back then.

Thanks for your comments, ladies. I am considering saying something to someone about it.
Anonymous said…
Hey whiners,
The reason that this and most other races have a "heavyweight" division is because most competive runners are extremely thin, and this gives people with normal weights who still like to run, a chance to compete in a category with others who arent marathon-thin. It's a good thing, the division exists for men and women, and it just means that you don't have to compete against rail-thin hard-core runners who would naturally have an advantage over you in distance running.
I am 6'5", weigh 195 lbs and have almost no body fat. I am running in the "heavyweight" division. From the looks of the other comments here, I think too many people are too anxious to feel like victims these days...

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