Jive Talkin' Runner's Lingo Decoded: Part 2 

The wait is over! Our second and final part of Runner's Lingo is here. Learn more about what all those confusing race terms mean with this comprehensive list.

By: Terri Rejimbal

Navigating the Race Course

  • Certified Course – Course that has been measured and certified for accuracy. A certified course allows a runner’s performance to be accepted as a national record or ranking. Note: Not all races are certified courses! 
  • Corral – Not exactly home on the range round-up of cattle. A sectioned area at the lineup of a race that separates athletes into different pace groups based upon an estimated finish time. 
  • Wave Start - Separates larger groups/corrals of runners by several minutes to allow for congestion on the race course to thin out before starting the next group. 
  • Ultra – A low-cal beer at the end of a race, no? Any distance longer than marathon (26.2miles/42.2Km). 
  • Gun Time/Clock Time – The time between when the starting gun fires – the actual start of the race – to when the participant crosses the finish line, regardless of how long it took the participant to reach the starting line. Typically used for awarding overall finisher awards and prize money.
  • Chip/Net Time – Amount of time from when you first cross the starting line to when you cross the finish line. Records individual accuracy of timing for runners who are further back from the start line. This timing method is used for presenting age group and age graded awards. 
  • Elevation Change – Difference in elevation from start of route to the end of route along with any ups & downs in between. 
  • Tangents – Running tangents means running the shortest distance & in the straightest line possible This is how a course is measured & is the shortest distance. More often than not, races have many turns and curves. In order to run the tangents, you will need to run in a straight line from curve to curve rather than following the middle of the road & snaking around every curve. Running tangents simply means running the inside of a turn vs. the outside. 
  • Negative Split – Running the second half of distance faster than the first half. 
Racking up Awards

  • Double-Dip – Not to be confused with 2 scoops of ice cream or the chip & dip faux pas. Participant can place in multiple divisions at once. i.e., receives an Open Overall award & Master award.
  • Open – Generally refers to elite and non-elite runners under the age of 40. 
  • Master – Elite and non-elite runners age 40 and over. (Note: European events often classify runners over 35 as a Master.) 
  • Grandmaster – Elite and non-elite runners age 50 and over. 
  • Senior Grandmaster – Elite and non-elite runners age 60 and over. 
  • Age Group – Refers to the USATF 5-year age groups: 14 & under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85-89, 90-over. Majority of races give awards to Top 1-3 Age Group winners. 
  • Age-Graded – Method that applies a formula to each runner’s actual time to account for slowing due to age factors. According to USATF “these tables allow a runner to have her/his raw time converted to an equivalent open time using what is known as age factors.” Basically, it evens the playing field for older male & female grading, thus allowing some to double or triple dip.

About the Author 

Terri Rejimbal is a competitive Masters athlete, 3-time Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon winner, 6-time Disney Masters marathon winner, and a New Balance product tester. Terri is a RRCA run coach, CPR/AED certified, and is available for consulting or coaching services. For more information, contact Terri at tarejimbal@gmail.com.