Just like any sport, when it comes to trail running there are some weird and wonderful terms and slang to get your head around. This article will help you get started, so that you know what people are talking about at the next trail race.
Types of trails:
Rail trails: A disused railway that has been converted, they are usually flat, wide paths
Fire Road or Double track: Packed dirt, but with rocks and normally an abandoned road or gravel road, usually wide enough for an all-terrain vehicle to get through.
Singletrack: A narrow path, approximately the width of a bike. Usually smooth and flowing but can consist of dirt, rocks, sticks, leaves, etc. Makes passing difficult.
Switch back: When the trail zigzags up or down. You will proceed in sharp turns in alternating directions. With the wind in your hair, the down-hills can be lots of fun.
Exposure: When you are running on a cliff or edge, are feeling quite frightened and are using lots of caution... this is known as an exposure.
Water crossing: Whether you are gingerly hopping from one rock to the next, precariously balancing along a log or getting your shoes soaked by running straight through the stream, you will have to cross some water as some stage.
Trailhead: The beginning of a trail, usually marked by restrooms, signage and maps.
Fork: That point in the trail where you need to make the decision to go left or right. Hopefully there is some signage or make sure you have bought a long a map so that you don't end up tossing a coin and getting lost.
Technical – These trails have more roots and rocks than dirt and require a lot of concentration.
Aid Station –This isn't just a water table, where you will find some plastic cups filled with water or some sort of energy drink. Supplies at an aid station can range from energy gels, fruit, cookies, candy, potatoes and peanut butter sandwiches to name just a few.
Drop Bag – These are more common in races over 100 miles due to the restriction of crews on the trail. This bag will contain anything and everything that you feel could help you get to the end of the race, food, drink, clothes, dry socks and shoes.
Exposed - A section of trail without any tress and offers no shelter. There is no protection from the sun and rain, so be prepared for the weather.
Geezered – That moment in a race, when you are feeling strong and are making your way through the kilometres and suddenly you get passed by a person over 50, 60, or 70!
Grunt – A section of a trail when it feels like you are stuck on a stairmaster and it defies gravity.
There are also a variety of shouting commands that get used out on the trail. Rock! Be aware of some rocks that are rolling down; Bike Back! Move to the right as there is a bike coming up behind you; Duck! Informs you to move out of the way for a low-hanging branch, rather than describing a the flying bird; Passing on your left! Used when you come up behind some slow moving hikers, ensure you give them enough warning and make sure you know the difference between your left and right. And finally Man down! Describes the obvious and hopefully you won't have to use it very often, check out the person's injuries and get help if necessary.