Monday 18 July 2011

The Importance of Knowing Your Running Jargon

Last year when I was searching for pace setters to help me set pace during the Mumbai marathon, I asked a friend if he would lead the 'Sub-5 Bus'.

Now, most people conversant with running jargon know what this means. It means that the pacer will run at a predetermined speed and bring in his Bus (the group of fellow runners running along with the pacer is called a Bus) to the finish in a time just under 5 hours. Hence the term sub-5 bus. Of course, my novice friend had no idea what I meant and asked me whether they will allow a BEST Bus (public transport) on the race route. 

I did not laugh when he said that because just until about 5 years ago as a novice runner I too had no idea what a pacer did or what a 'Bus' was. 

I was however reminded of a story about a recruit in the United States Marines and his unfortunate experience when he mixed up the words 'rifle' and 'gun'. The poor recruit was made to realize how passionately a marine felt about his M1 rifle.   

His story is told in the book, With The Old Breed by Eugene Sledge. (A book the War in the Pacific)

During the first few days at training camp, the drill instructor (DI)  asked one of the recruits a question about his M1 rifle. Now, to a Marine, an M1 Rifle means everything.  It is his most important piece of equipment. They are obsessed with it. A well maintained and well functioning Rifle can be the difference between Life and Death for a Marine.   

In answering, the hapless recruit referred to his rifle as "my gun".  The DI muttered some instructions to him, the recruit blushed.

The recruit then began trotting up and down in front of the camp huts holding his rifle in one hand and his penis in the other, chanting, "This is my rifle," as he held up his M1 rifle, "and this is my gun," as he moved his other arm which held his penis. "This is for Japs," he held aloft his M1; "and this is for fun," he held out his other arm.

Needless to say, none of the other recruits again used the word "gun" unless referring to a shotgun, mortar, artillery piece or naval gun.

Now, although we runners are citizens of the world and love all fellow runners equally we are equally passionate about our sport as the marines, so when I go looking for fellow pacers this year, I will just try and find a word which rhymes with 'Bus' !


  1. Hilarious! Not only am I amazed at the extent you read but also at the parallels you draw between running and well...just about everything else! Keep 'em coming :)

  2. Great post Amit..very important to know the terminology. I have often found that folks confuse the term pacer with the term bus, asking me if I am the bus. I have often clarified saying that the pacer is the person running at a fixed pace while the bus is the collective of runners who use the pacer to pace themselves. Keep them coming

  3. Gopal Chandra Halder19 July 2011 at 17:30

    Very good one Amit....