Trail Run Racing Glossary of Terms

When I first started trail running and entered into my first race. I didn’t understand what everyone was talking about. I had run marathons for years, but things were different. Aid stations were not just cups of water and sponges, and drop bags weren’t for after the race. Sprinkled in the conversations were words and phrases I just wasn’t familiar with. So the following is a collection of what you might hear out on the race course. Don’t be clueless, Read the Trail Run Racing Glossary of Terms to understand what the heck everyone is talking about!


Trail Run Racing Glossary of Terms

Aid Station – This isn’t a table filled with cups of water or gatoraide. This table has a cornucopia of edible or drinkable delights including cookies, chips, brownies, P&J sandwiches…

Crew – A group of friends, relatives, people off the street that spend ungodly hours, miles from nowhere to spend 3 mins. every few hours to cater to all your needs.

Double Track or Fire Road – This is when a trail is actually either an abandoned road or gravel road that race directors use when there aren’t enough trails to get in a 50K.

Drop Bag – A bag of food, drink, clothes that you actually think will help you finish.

Exposed – A section of trail with out trees or or any other shelter. Often high mountain ridges are exposed. This means you better be prepared for weather.

Fat Ass – A ultra run in the middle of the winter with little or no support so you don’t get bored during the off season.

FKT – Setting the Fastest Known Time on an epic trail not part of a race. (ie Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, Mt. Rainier Wonderland Trail)

Fork – A split in the trail that if there is no signage, you wish you had brought a map.

Geezered –  Getting passed in a race by someone over 50, 60, or 70!

Grunt – A section of trail that defys gravity.

Histogram – A graphic image of the horrific elevation gains on the ultra race course you just signed up for.

Niggle – An injury you have that you continue to run with.

Pacer – A fellow ultra runner, who doesn’t want to run the whole event, that guides and motivates you through the night.

RD –A crazy, selfless, Ultra runner that puts on an Ultra race.

Runnable – If someone tells you it’s runnable, don’t always believe them.

Single Track – Trails that are so deeply rutted, you can’t pass.

Swag – The cool gear that you get for showing up at an Ultra race.

Sweep – An experienced ultra runner, usually training for another event, who volunteers to be the last runner on the ultra course to check for dead/lost runners and to pick up the flagging and errant gel wrappers.

Switch back –  When the trail zig zags up or down so you don’t have to go straight up or down the hill. Sometimes they can be really fun running downhill.

Technical – A trail that has more roots or rocks than dirt.

Trail Head – The beginning of a trail, hopefully there is a sign, hopefully there is parking, always check for parking permit requirements!

Trail Money – Toilet Paper!

Turkey Slider – A couple of avocado slices wrapped in a piece of turkey, Yum!

Now you should be able to talk trash with the best of them!

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