Out There: Your Handy Race Day Glossary

This week, I found myself translating for a new runner. Her first race is this weekend, and she wasn’t sure what the race instructions meant by “seeding for the corral.”

At first, I scoffed—isn’t it obvious? But then I looked at her face—her confused, slightly scared face—and realized it really wasn’t obvious at all. Though it’s been years since I was a new runner, I can recall being just as confused about the terminology used in the sport: bandit, kick, and bonk were words I associated with robbers, soccer, and the horizontal mambo, not marathons. Yet runners throw them around all the time, along with phrases that make no sense, like “farmer blow.” What the hell is a farmer blow, and does it have anything to do with that crop dusting you were talking about earlier?

Runners may be speaking English, but it’s still a whole different language. That said, I’ve gathered common terms used in association with race day – be it race guides or the lingo of the runners themselves – for a simple glossary. Have fun, get those negative splits, and don’t hit the dirt!

Aid Station n. Stations along the race course to load up on fluids, gels, and volunteers well-versed in the art of lying: “You look great! You’re almost to the finish! No, you don’t smell bad at all!”

Bandit n. One who steals from a race by running the event without paying registration fees. An excellent way to cement one’s status as a douchecanoe.

Bonked v. Fatigued, hammered, knackered, “hitting the wall.” A complete depletion of energy and brain cells. Not to be confused with the British usage of “bonk,” which describes something a hell of a lot more fun.

Boxing v. To impede the progress of fellow runners by blocking their path. Note: deliberate boxing is punishable with a sharp elbow to the ribs, followed by name-calling.

Chafing v. The cause of 99 percent of blood-curdling screams in the shower. (Spiders and Norman Bates are behind the remaining 1 percent.)

Coffee Klatch n. A chatty group walking three or more abreast, oblivious to runners trying to pass.

Corral n. An attempt to organize athletes by pace at the starting line. Usually ignored by overly ambitious racers and the Coffee Klatch.

Crop Dusting v. Releasing a noxious gas from one’s bum while in the vicinity of other runners. Should only be used for emergencies and/or revenge.

Dropped v. Result of failure to keep up with runners in the pack. Sometimes preceded by insults to the dropped runner’s fitness, intelligence, and/or mother

Elite n. A select group of high-performing runners. Term has been appropriated in recent years by mid-pack runners who cite sponsorships and Twitter followers to leverage discounts and preferential treatment at races.

Farmer Blow n. A forceful, sinus-clearing expulsion from the nostril without the use of tissues. Also known as a “snot rocket.” Impressive when performed successfully; ectoplasmic when not.

Ghost Runner n. A late-race hallucination of a runner on your heels who seems to disappear every time you look over your shoulder. The recipient of varied and creative curse words.

Hit the Dirt v. To tumble, to trip, to eat it, to have a yard sale, to go ass over teakettle. When it happens, just remember: we’re laughing with you, not at you.

Hydration Belt n. A Velcro waistpack containing pockets for fluids, snacks, and other race-day needs. Don’t you dare call it a fanny pack. Fanny packs are for dweebs.

Kick v. A surge of speed in the final portion of the race. Sometimes performed to pass someone in the finish chute for the win, but mostly utilized as a form of peacocking.

Negative Splits v. Running the second half of a race faster than the first half. Requires patience and intelligence, two traits that seem to disappear at the sound of a starting pistol.

Pace Bunny n. One who voluntarily leads a runner (or group of runners) at a certain, consistent pace during an event. The most motivating and, ideally, aesthetically pleasing rear ends in the sport.

Peacock v. Making a deliberate and pretentious display of one’s accomplishments, usually through braggadocio and one-upmanship: “I was going to check out the race expo, but there was a group of Ironman finishers peacocking in front of the entrance.”

Run Runs n. The unexpected and urgent need to exorcise your demons in a port-o-john before or during a race.

Seeding v. A method of assigning placement in corrals by asking runners for their estimated finish times. A good way to assess a runner’s grasp of reality (or lack thereof).

Shower Beer n. A post-race libation consumed while standing under a stream of warm water. Usually code for “Let’s pretend that run never happened.”

Static Stretching v. Something only performed by runners while posing for the covers of fitness magazines.

Swag n. Free samples and tchotchkes handed out by sponsors and manufacturers at race expos. Often snatched up with good intentions, only to sit in closets and car trunks for years.

Tail-End Charlie n. Support vehicle in a race that picks up injured, abandoned, or cut-off runners. Also known as a sag wagon, sweep, ship of sadness, or BOP (Back-Of-Pack) bus.

Do you have a term to add to the list? Tweet us at @RunCompetitor or share on Competitor’s Facebook Page!

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). Susan lives and trains in Salt Lake City, Utah with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete husband. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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