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Multisport Glossary of Terms

There are 96 entries in this glossary.
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Term Definition
1/2 IM

Half Ironman distance consisting of 1.2 mi (1.9 km) swim, 56 mi (90 km) bike, and a 13.1mi (21.1 km) run.

Aliases (separate with |): 70.3|HIM

Half Ironman distance consisting of 1.2 mi (1.9 km) swim, 56 mi (90 km) bike, and a 13.1mi (21.1 km) run.

Aliases (separate with |): 1/2 IM|HIM

A swimming stage followed by a biking stage with no run.


Effectively a triathlon without a cycling component. Usually a run-swim-run, although occasionally a swim-run, the event is fast and furious, often taking just half an hour to complete at the elite level. The ITU Aquathlon World Championships are often held alongside the ITU Triathlon World Championships.


Short for Annual Training Plan.


A sudden attempt to get away from another rider.

Bike Helmet

A mandatory piece of equipment for all triathletes. There is not a sanctioned race in the country that will allow a triathlete to race without a bike helmet. If a crash occurs, a helmet can save a life. IMPORTANT: The helmet must be buckled before exiting the transition area during the race as well as anytime the athlete is riding their bike at an event site, including riding the bike to transition for pre-race setup. A race official has the ability to disqualify athletes for not wearing their helmets, even if the race has not yet started or has already completed.

Aliases (separate with |): Bicycle Helmet|Helmet
Bike shoes

Shoes worn on the bike, which have stiff soles to maximize power throughout the pedal stroke. A good shoe is light and has a cleat on the bottom to attach to the pedal.

Triathlon bike shoes typically have velcro closures with the straps sitting on the outside of the foot when open. This prevents the velcro straps from getting caught in the chain as well as allows for faster foot entry and exit.

Aliases (separate with |): Bicycle shoes|cycle shoes|tri bike shoes|triathlon bike shoes

When a rider tries to get in the way of other riders, usually done as part of a team strategy to slow down the main field when other team members are ahead in a breakaway.

Body marking

The location and process by which triathletes are marked. At a minimum, athletes' race numbers are written on their arm(s). Some races, however, also mark athletes' legs. Depending on the race, leg markings can include race number, age, age group/classification, and race distance/event to name a few. Body marking allows officials to track triathletes throughout the race as well as help identify athletes and allergies should medical attention be needed.


When a rider completely runs out of energy. Also known as "hitting the wall" in running.


A rider or group of riders who have separated themselves ahead of the main pack.


A type of workout that stacks two or more workouts back to back, such as a bike-run brick. Bricks are useful in that they simulate race conditions, help build muscular endurance, help test nutrition plans, and help triathletes get used to the muscular and energy demands required in each leg of an event.

Aliases (separate with |): Brick workout
Bridge the gap

When a rider or group of riders attempt to reach a group farther ahead.


Usually an orange or yellow ball or pyramid shaped floating marker used to navigate the swim course.


Riders who are attempting to "bridge the gap" to catch the lead group.

Clipless Pedals

Counter-intuitive term, especially without historical context. Previously cyclists used "clip pedals" which were no more than cages and bindings that clipped around the foot. A "clipless" pedal is the term used to describe the next generation of pedals that no longer required a clip around the foot, instead providing an attachment mechanism (i.e., cleat) between the shoe and pedal. Cyclists clip directly onto the pedal using a cleat attached to the underside of the shoe, which allows cyclist to push down on as well as pull up on the pedal.


A multi-lap event on a course usually a mile or less in length and of medium total distance, usually 25-75 miles.

Aliases (separate with |): Crit

The mechanism that moves the chain from one gear to another, most bikes have a front and rear derailleur.

Director Sportif

Cycle term, pronounced "Director sporteef." The Director Sportif is the manager of the team.


Combining the sports of running and cycling, an elite distance duathlon consists of a 10km run – 40km cycle – 5km run. Involving high levels of stamina and power, duathlon is sometimes regarded to be harder than triathlon. ITU World Championships are held over the standard distance and long distance.


An area where local sponsors and product sponsors have booths, allowing people to see what products the supporting companies offer as well as buy merchandise. Many times there are information booths set-up and product sample booths. Usually, large races have huge expos because sponsors figure athletes will get a live glance of the product.

Aliases (separate with |): Exposition

Equipment placed over a swimmer's eyes. Most swimmers use them in triathlons, especially in salty water swims. Be sure to make sure they are tight enough that if you happen to get kicked in the swim they will still stay on. Some swimmers put them on under the swim cap to reduce the chances of having them come off during the swim.

Aliases (separate with |): Swim goggles

Half Ironman distance consisting of 1.2 mi (1.9 km) swim, 56 mi (90 km) bike, and a 13.1mi (21.1 km) run.

Aliases (separate with |): 1/2 IM|70.3
International Triathlon Union

The ITU is the world governing body for the Olympic Programme sport of triathlon and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). ITU is also the world governing body for all related multi-sports such as duathlon, aquathlon, winter triathlon and long distance triathlon. The ITU was founded in 1989 in Avignon, France, where the first triathlon world championships were held. It is now headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and has over 120 affiliated national federations around the world.

Aliases (separate with |): ITU
Long distance triathlon

Long distance triathlon events are held over either double or triple Olympic distance. Athletes require high endurance as races can take up to seven hours to complete. Drafting is not permitted during the cycle leg of the event.


Refers to a group of people who are either swimming, biking, or running together. Drafting usually takes place, so it must be avoided on the bike in races that are not draft legal.

Packet pickup

A time to pick up race information before the actual race day. It usually occurs the day before the event. At really big races, packet pickup could be over a period of a couple of days leading up to the event. It is best to get the race information as far ahead of time as possible to avoid the inevitable race day race chaos.

Aliases (separate with |): pre-registration|registration

Formerly known as ‘Athletes With A Disability’, paratriathlon involves the categorization of disabled athletes into their respective impairments allowing fair and competitive racing between different classes.

Race Belt

Typically an elastic belt, which is worn around the waist--usually on the run. Race numbers are attached to it so that they can be visible during the event.

Aliases (separate with |): Number Belt
Swim cap

The swim cap is given to triathletes at packet pickup. Different colored caps are used in most wave starts to distinguish between age groups and/or sexes for timing purposes.

Aliases (separate with |): Cap

The first transition during an event. For triathlons, this is the the point at which an athlete moves from the swim to the bike portion of the event.


The second transition during an event. For triathlons, this is the the point at which an athlete moves from the bike to the run portion of the event.

Taco a Wheel

To hit your wheel in such a way that the wheel bends to the shape of a taco. The wheel is now considered "Tacoed."

Aliases (separate with |): Taco|Tacoed
Take a Flyer

When one rider goes off the front of the pack, usually alone.

Take a Turn

To share the collective workload by riding at the front of the peloton, which is more work, so other riders can draft off the leader and therefore get a bit of rest during an event. Riders are expected to share the work equally and "take their turn" or "take a pull" throughout. For riders who do more than their fair share, it can be said that they are "taking a lot of turns on the front." For those who are not pulling their share, it can be said that those riders have "missed a few turns" or are "sitting on the break." Although it is not mandatory in racing events, it is considered convention and is part of a long-standing gentlemen's/riders' understanding that everyone contributes, even if those cyclists in the group are not on the same teams.

Aliases (separate with |): Take a Pull

Short for "Tour de France."

Aliases (separate with |): Tour de France
Team Time Trial

A time trial in which multiple riders start at the same time. These are usually divided into distinct groups or teams, and usually of a fixed size. The time of the nth rider of a team counts for the classification for each team member. For example, in the the Tour de France, riders who are dropped from their team's group have been scored with their own time, instead of the team time.

Aliases (separate with |): TTT
Technical Assistance Zone

A designated section in a mountain bike or cyclocross race course along which riders are allowed to accept technical assistance (tools, spare parts, or mechanical work) from another person. In cyclocross racing the technical assistance zone is called the "pit." Not all mountain bike races contain a technical assistance zone, but instead require riders to carry whatever tools and spare parts they may need. A rider accepting technical assistance outside of the designated zone risks disqualification.

Aliases (separate with |): Pit

A time trialist who tends to over-specialize in the discipline. Slightly derogatory.

Tête de la Course

French, literally "head of the race." Meaning to lead a cyclist or group of cyclists, when separated from and in front of the peloton.

Ticket Collector

A cyclist who sits at the back of a breakaway and doesn't "take a turn" or "take a pull" up front. It can be said the rider gets a free ride similar to how a ticket collector rides at no cost to them on a train.


Commonly used to describe fans along the roadside at professional road cycling races in Italy, such as Tirreno–Adriatico, Milan – San Remo, the Giro d'Italia, and the Giro di Lombardia.

Time Trial

A race against the clock where an riders complete the same course, but do so individually by starting start separately (ranging from 30 seconds to 5 minutes apart). The winner of the race is determined as the person with the fastest time to complete the course. As a time trial is a solo race event, there is no drafting.

Aliases (separate with |): TT, Race of Truth
Time Trialist

A cyclist who can generate relatively high power over long periods of time (5 minutes to an hour or more) in a race against the clock.

Track (Cycling)

An oval, banked track for cycling and cycling races, usually banked at up to 50 degrees. Cycling tracks are usually--but not always--indoors. Bicycling or cycle tracks are also called velodromes. Velodromes are usually 33.33 meters in length, some Olympic tracks are generally 250 meters in length. Generally, track riders and road riders compete in separate kinds of events and at different venues. The difference in training and ability between track and road is similar to the difference between sprinters and long-distance runners, respectively.

Aliases (separate with |): Velodrome
Trail Angel

A generous individual (or group of individuals) who provide acts of kindness to participants of outdoor events or courses, such as on trails or various cycling routes. "Trail Angels" are often referred to in online hiking journals as friends of hikers, relatives or others persons who will often provide food, transportation, etc. to hikers, runners, or cyclists on trails and courses.


A piece of equipment that holds the rear wheel of a bicycle, allowing a cyclist to spin their bicycle in place. Usually used indoors when weather conditions are bad outdoors.


A point during an event when the athlete changes shoes and/or equipment to move to the next sport in a race. There are two transitions in every triathlon. They are from the swim to the bike portion and from the bike to the run portion of the event.

Transition Area

n. A location marked off for use by athletes, race officials, and volunteers so that athletes can stage and access their equipment so that they can quickly move from one sport (or leg) to another during a race event. This area can be considered part of the race course and is often detailed in course maps for events. Items staged in the transition area include swim goggles, wetsuits, bicycles, helmets, nutrition, sunblock, running shoes, race belts, etc. Most transition areas are designed to follow a numbering scheme that corresponds to the athletes' race number. There can be more than one transition area for an event.

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