We are all newbies at one time. For those of you who prefer to be more discreet about your newbie status at your first race, it may be helpful to learn a few phrases/terms that you might overhear:
- “I placed second in my age-group!” Age group (AG): In addition to placing first, second and third within each gender, runners can often earn awards by placing within their age-group. For example, 19 and under, 20-29, 30-38, etc. Age group may also be referred to as “age division.”
- “I would have placed first, but they double-dipped the awards.” Double-dipping: When you earn an award for the overall (OA) first place win for your gender, and then are awarded first place in your age-group too.
- “I’m hoping to BQ today.” BQ: Boston Qualifying time. The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) requires that runners qualify in order to earn a spot in the Boston Marathon. That means, based on your age and gender, you need to run a marathon on a BAA-certified course in a pre-determined amount of time.
- “Did you get any hardware?” Hardware: Awards, trophies, plaques, ribbons, etc. given to overall winners, and usually to age-group winners, depending on the size and budget of the race.
- “I was afraid the SAG wagon was coming for me.” SAG Wagon: A vehicle that “sweeps” the race course to pick up injured/exhausted runners who are unable to finish the race. SAG vehicles are also used during cycling events. SAG has been rumored to be an acronym for “Support and Gear” or “Support Aid Group.”
- “I ran a negative split!” Negative split: Running the second half of a race (or training run) faster than the first half.
- “Did you pick up your bib (number) yet?” Bib number (Bib, bib-number, number): The square piece of paper that is pinned to the front of each runner. Each number is unique and identifies each runner. At larger races, the “elite” runners are typically assigned lower numbers. For example, if the overall winner from the previous year is racing again, he/she will most likely wear the number “1” bib.
- “This race is chip timed.” Chip: A small plastic device that is secured to each runner’s shoelaces. The device records data whenever the runner crosses the timing mats, found at the start and finish lines. The chip communicates with a computer to provide quick, accurate results.
- “I took a GU every five miles.” GU: This gel-like substance is found in small packets and is composed primarily of carbohydrates (sugar). It is used to replenish glucose during exercise, keeping energy levels up. (GU is a trademarked name. There are several other brands of gels available.)
- “I need to do some strides to warm up.” Strides: Prior to the start, some runners warm-up by doing 100 meter accelerations, also called strides. This quick burst of speed primes the muscles and gets the legs ready for quick turn-over.
Is there any race or running related jargon that you’d like defined? Let me know!