Dictionary book

Your trail running dictionary – canadian running magazine

“Thank goodness that big ass wasn’t a qualifier because I jumped so much and I was DFL after the cut and didn’t get my curl for the hundo.” Trail runners are strange people who sometimes speak their own language. The jargon requires its own dictionary with detailed translations. Get to know the weird terms and phrases commonly used by trail runners, and have this list handy the next time you’re caught in a conversation with one of them:

RELATED: 15 Ways To Know You’re a Trail Runner

Help station

A checkpoint for runners in a race. Also known as the Trail Runner’s Buffet, Hospital, Water Fountain, and Foot Clinic.

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A hydration pack with a removable straw to carry one to two liters of liquid on the back. Not to be confused with the bladder in the stomach. However, both types of bladders can be referenced in a single sentence when you’re on the trails.

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Severe or sudden fatigue in the middle of a run or a long trail. Usually attributed to a lack of calories or depleted glycogen stores. Also known as “hitting the wall”. Fun fact: this term means something different in Australia.

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Trophy runners receive at the finish line of a 100 mile endurance race. The belt buckle is a marathon runner’s running medal.

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The part of a trail or run that goes up. A synonym for power hiking. Not a synonym for Miley Cyrus’ hit single. Pro tip: Place your hands on your thighs or hips to look like you’re climbing rather than hiking.

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One or more people responsible for ensuring that their runner does not die. They go to aid stations and fill water bottles, change socks, serve hot pizzas, and hold your hair back when it comes up. A good crew will often work harder than the runner, with much less sleep. Also means: Crabby Runner Endless Waiting.

RELATED: It Takes a Village – Tips for Riding an Ultramarathon

To cut

The maximum time allowed for a runner to leave a first aid station or finish a race. Deadlines are in place for safety reasons for long distance trail races.

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Dead Freakin ‘Last. The person who is the last person to cross the finish line in the limit.


Refers to living outside of a vehicle in order to have quick and easy access to trails and mountains. The bag of dirt also applies to the lack of showers involved in an adventure weekend. For dust bags, there is no difference between a shower with baby wipes and a real shower.


Did not finish. Although it is generally a blow to the ego, the term is increasingly accepted in the trail running community.


Has not started. When a runner is registered to run but cannot reach the start line. This could be due to an injury, forgetting to train, or sleeping during your alarm. In trail races, it is important that the race directors are accountable to all participants.

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Transport bag

What you put on is extra food, socks, a headlamp, or motivational quotes for a longer event. Race directors carry carry bags to various aid stations along the course, so runners can access their favorite gifts. Pro tip: trash, don’t bag. Tupperware bins are all the rage.

RELATED: Mantras for Trail Running Tenacity

Big ass

It is not a part of the body, but a type of race. A Fat Ass is a free or low cost popular race or event hosted by local trail runners. A Fat Ass style race can also refer to the inaugural year of a more formal race. A Fat Ass style run is a great way to get involved in the trail running community.


It officially means the fastest known time. However, it can also be defined as the funniest weather ever.


Anything that contains calories to eat before, during or after a run. Fuel includes everything from gooey gel to the Big Mac. Trail runners are not picky. Calories are calories and should be eaten often.

RELATED: Breastfeeding on the Trails: Kids Must Eat

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A 100 mile endurance race. Fun Fact: Even when your GPS tracks 130 miles during a run, it’s still counted as a cent.

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The odds that ultrarunners face when they engage in a well-known trail race. Participating in some races is worth millions for trail runners. Fun fact: A trail runner is more likely to win millions in the lottery than entering the Western States or the Hardrock. A sensitive subject for some runners.


Any type of anti-friction product. Comes in the form of petroleum jelly, squirrel butter, Body Glide, or pure coconut oil. It’s a trail runner’s best friend, next to anything edible.

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“To your left”

When trying to pass another runner on a single track coming from behind. Pro tip: don’t say left and go right.


A race or a race that comes back on the same path. Pro tip: A round-trip run can be helpful so you don’t get lost when running on unfamiliar trails.

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Part of the crew, a friend (or stranger) who runs part of a long distance trail race with the registered runner. Their selfless job is also to make sure you don’t die by remembering to eat and helping out at aid stations. Their selfish job is to see the trails of an exciting race in which they could not participate. (Cue Western States 100). Anecdote: in Europe, leaders and crews are almost non-existent.

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Hiking poles used by some trail runners for technical and mountain routes. Although more prevalent in Europe, they are becoming increasingly popular in North America.

RELATED: Running in the Mountains: How to Prepare for Terrain, Weather, and Elevation


A tough 100 km or 100 mile race that must be completed before entering the lottery for the Western States 100 or Hardrock 100. This also applies to qualifying races for the Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc.


People who prefer to run on the sidewalk rather than on the dirt. A roadie can be stereotyped as someone who talks about his pace per kilometer and walks through a first aid station. The trails can be varied and the refreshment stations delicious, so the pace is less important (at least that’s what we tell ourselves).

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One of the most relative terms in trail running. All terrain on trails that does not include a river crossing, hot lava boulder field, or icy cliffs. In theory, it is the opposite of a technical course. In reality, it can include just about anything.

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Slowest time ever. The opposite of an FKT, generally the product of the funniest boarding in time known.

to cross

To travel or move sideways through or over mountains. Also known as a trail runner’s favorite pastime and favorite word. Trail runners don’t just like to go through everything, they will say the word on unnecessary occasions. Throw “cross” into any conversation and watch a trail runner’s face light up with joy.

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Two hundred

No, it’s not a 200-meter sprint on the track. This refers to an endurance race of 200 miles (or more). For example, the 240 mile race from Moab, Utah.

Related: Moab 240 – What Really Happened To Canadian Runners


Any distance over the standard 42.2 km marathon distance. Includes courses on trails and roads.

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How much elevation does a trail or a running course gain. This can sometimes correspond to the speed of a course, but not always. For example, a 50 km trail run with 4000 meters of green (or gain) will likely take much longer to complete than a 1000 meter race. (Unless the trail is made up of boulder fields and pure ice).