The Triathlete Glossary of Terms

Let’s face it, there are a lot of tri specific terms out there. Use this list to cut through some of the confusion and be able to talk like a Professional Amateur.

Aero – A term used to describe how aerodynamic a racer is on their bike when racing. This often goes hand in hand with ‘aggressive’. Like an Oscar party, the aero bike fit is a big part of post Kona discussion.

Age Grouper – The non-professional who is competing against others in their age category.

AOS – A common triathlete syndrome, “Adult Onset Swimmer”. As with many triathletes they have evolved from other sports and have never learned to swim laps as a youth.

‘A’ race – The all important focus of the year. The ‘A’ race is used to describe the importance of a race, followed closely by ‘B’ and ‘C’ races to make sure people understand you weren’t really trying.

Body marking – The area before a race where triathletes let strangers draw on them.

Bonked – The point at which the body comes to its senses and shuts down racing for the day.

BOP – Back Of the Pack. A place where many of us will wind up at some point.

Cda – A scientific triathlon term used to describe the amount of wind resistance a person has. The longer the leg hair the higher the Cda.

Chicked – When a male is passed on the bike by a female.

Crack pipe – A bent angled tire inflator that uses CO2 to reinflate a tire.

Draft zone – The space behind a racer on a bike that provides others with an advantage by blocking wind. Although this is a forbidden area to stay in during most races, groups tend to hover here until caught.

DNF – Did Not Finish.

False flat – It looks like it is flat, but that is false, because it is uphill.

FOP – Front Of Pack. Not sure how to describe it without firsthand knowledge. These people must have a good sense of direction because they don’t have anyone to follow.

Full – A term for the 140.6 mile race. For the non-triathlete, this is also known simply as a triathlon.

Half – Short for the 70.3 distance. Not a real race by public standards.

Hammerfest – Full gas on the bike saving nothing for later. Not uncommon with those who plan to walk their run.

ITU – International Triathlon Union.

M-Dot – A cool way of saying the Ironman brand. “Check me out, I signed up for an M-Dot race.”

MOP – Middle of pack. Pretty much where I live.

Professional Amateur – An athlete who travels to races, invests large sums of money into the best training, but will never win anything but a finisher medal.

Special needs – Almost like T1.5 and 2.5. A mid leg break for Iron distance courses. Used to replenish the athlete with things like a chicken parm sandwich that may not be served on course.

Strippers – The lovely folks standing at the ready to help remove wetsuits after the swim leg. Needed because although there is likely hours of biking and running left to do, removing a layer of clothing on top of that seems daunting.

Tire wrench – A bike repair kit must have used for popping tires on and off the rim.

Transition – The area in a race where thinking ceases and athletes forget their carefully planned strategies. This space starts off looking like a Marine barracks and finishes looking like a teenage bedroom.

T3 – The after party. Beer.

Uber Biker – A seriously lopsided bike strong athlete.

W/kg – Watts per kilogram. A measurement of power and the ultimate reflection of ability. No real triathlete has ever put out less than 4 W/kg during a race. Of any distance.

Worlds – Short hand for World Championships. Because it is cooler to say.

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