The Stories Behind Triathlon’s Unique Brand Names

CEEPO Bicycles

It sounds like a nonsensical name, but it has much meaning in its native language.

“CEEPO is a Japanese Samurai name,” explains founder Joe Tanaka, referring to an ancient Samurai warrior regarded as one of the best in history. “It means four directions, and is kind of a lucky word for the Japanese.”

CLIFBar Nutrition

In 1990, Gary Erickson set off on a one-day, 175-mile bicycle ride. As usual, he packed six energy bars for the ride, using the only bar on the market at the time. Halfway through the ride, exhausted and hungry, Gary realized he just couldn’t eat another unappetizing, sticky, hard-to-digest bar. In a moment he now calls “the epiphany,” the inspiration for the CLIF Bar was born.

Gary took his idea to the best baker he knew, his mom, and for the next few months the two experimented with ingredients and recipes—mixing, baking and tossing out bars that weren’t good enough. Finally, Gary settled on the right recipe. He named his creation CLIF Bar in honor of his father, Clifford, the man who introduced him to wilderness adventures and encouraged him to follow his passions in life.

Coeur Apparel

Coeur is French for ‘heart’ and the root of the word ‘courage,’ two elements near and dear to the founder, Kebby Holden: “As an athlete, we know that athletic performance is about so much more than genetic talent: It’s also about heart. Heart is about digging deep and being mentally tough. Heart is what gets you to the finish line when all the body wants to do is lay down. Heart is at the center of the community and the friendships you find in sport. Heart is what makes you give back to the community that has given you so much.”

Dimond Bicycles

The name Dimond comes first and foremost as a relation to the diamond gemstone, which is an allotrope of carbon created with lots of temperature, pressure, and time.

The spelling of the bicycle brand Dimond (spelled without the a) is the second part of meaning: Traditional bicycle frames are constructed using double-diamond geometry, with one diamond for the front triangle (down tube, top tube seat tube), and a second diamond for the rear triangle (seat stays, chain stays, seat tube). Dimond bikes consist of only a single diamond geometry.

FINIS Swim Gear

FINIS is a Latin word that signifies “the end” or “grand finale.” It holds additional symbolic meaning for founders John Mix and Pablo Morales as it contains the word ‘fin’, the first item in production for FINIS, Inc.

FINIS is also a reflection of the brand’s commitment to creating innovative products that enable swimmers of all abilities to meet the “end” or “grand finale” they seek, whatever it might be.

Garmin Electronics

Established in 1989 as “ProNav,” it turned out that there was a company that was already using that name. Founders Gary Burell and Min Kao had to come up with something new, so they took the first three letters of each of their names—Gary and Min, and the company became Garmin.

Hoka One One Shoes

In the Maori language, which is native to New Zealand, HOKA ONE ONE means “flying on earth.” The shoes were born out of a desire to fly across the terrain, allowing runners to float over obstacles and feel weightless and fast. When founding the company, Jean Luc Diard and Nico Mermoud were searching for a name to encompass the feeling of flying across the earth and the two foundations the shoes were built on: weightlessness and speed. The criteria included a short name and being easy to remember and pronounce across languages. Their search led them to New Zealand, a favorite spot for adventuring racing with a variety of terrain from the mountains to the sea. The Maori words HOKA and ONE ONE connected all the dots, and the name HOKA ONE ONE was born.

Injinji Socks

Two of the founders of the footwear company were also musicians involved in drumming and drum circles. A word of uncertain origin (which sounded like Injinji – “In-gin-gee”) was shared with them that is meant to convey the moment in a drum circle when the drummer/musician is at one with the rhythm and blissfully lost in the music; not conscious of the effort or mechanics required to play. The correlation was immediately made with running and sport in general: Injinji also perfectly described the “runner’s high,” or the moment when the effort and discomfort of sport fall away and the athlete is transported to a place of pure joy.

Marc Pro Recovery Gear

“We realized early on that activating muscles is the key trigger to a cascading series of recovery related functions in the human body – nitric oxide, leading to vasodilation, leading to increased blood flow, leading to improved vascularity…” founder Ryan Heaney trails off. “This lead us to the acronym MARC (Muscle Activated Recovery Cascade), and our brand name Marc Pro.”

Nuun Hydration

The founders of Nuun Hydration have heard a lot of funny stories about what NUUN means: a dog’s name, the best time of day to hydrate (noon), and the sanskrit word for sodium (a key electrolyte). The truth? It’s an abbreviation of Nutrition, Uncompromised, a nod to their philosophy of creating a minimally-processed alternative to sugary sports drinks.

Rudy Project Sunglasses & Helmets

Rudy Project was founded in the Treviso region of Italy in 1985 after a friend made a bet with Rudy Barbazza: “I’ll pick a product and I bet you can’t sell it.” That friend picked sunglasses, and Barbazza got to work. That bet and the company itself became Rudy’s ‘Project’, which became a great success. Because he lost the bet, the friend agreed to wear the sunglasses in his next race – Bernard Hinault won his 5th Tour de France wearing first-generation Rudy Project sunglasses.

Saucony Shoes & Apparel

Saucony, founded in 1898, utilizes a Native American name meaning “mouth of a creek of river”. The Saucony creek runs through Kutztown, PA, and the first Saucony brick shoe factory was built along it shores. The company has been loyal to its roots, maintaining the Saucony name (even though the company was bought out by a neighboring shoe manufacturer in 1968) and the Saucony logo, which subtly represents a river running over three boulders.


Thirsting for the camaraderie and competition from their days as teammates on the Harvard Rowing Team, Michael Horvath and Mark Gainey built a “digital team” – a place where athletes could connect and inspire one another with their activities and accomplishments. They named it Strava, Swedish for “to strive” — inspired in part by Michael’s Swedish background, but also inspired by their global vision for the app.

Zoot Shoes & Apparel

Christal Nylin was living on Kona in the early ’80s, making sports bras and bathing suits, when three friends asked her to create something to wear for the 1983 Ironman. The standard tri kit at the time was wool cycling shorts and a t-shirt. Seeing the upside of a faster, fitted option, Christal proceeded to create the world’s first one-piece tri suit.

And a funky one it was: black, white and turquoise all over, with two suspender-esque stripes down the front and another set down the legs. “My friend and I looked at it and laughed,” says Christal. “It looked like a 1930’s zoot suit!” The Zoot name stuck, though the fashion has evolved over the years.

Unique monikers abound in the sport of triathlonbut what do they mean? Brands share the interesting stories behind the names many triathletes know and love.

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