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A collection of reader-submitted photos of their trail-inspired tattoos
Be sure to check out Candice Burt’s article, ‘Trail Runners and Their Tattoos‘ for deeper background story on some of the tattoos featured here.
James Piper: My tattoo is a quote out if my favorite film, Forrest Gump. It also has a little drawing of the old-school classic Nike trainers that Forrest used to run in. I have always loved Forrest Gump, and I have recently started watching it with my twin boys, and they love it too, and are always doing impressions! I wanted something to motive me to keep going when the pain kicks in! Forrest always makes me smile, and thinking of my boys doing impressions is great motivation, that’s why I decided on this particular quote and image. It is also in a place that I can see when I’m running, just at the top of my arm swing, so all I need to do us take a little glimpse down and I can see it!
Catra Corbett: My very first sub 24 hour finish was 22:40 at Umstead 100. I decided to get a little stick pin doll that says pain is pleasure. It means all the years of challenges and pain during my 100’s I reached my pleasure sub 24.
Catra Corbett: I have a T. S Eliot quote “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” I carried this quote around on a piece of paper since my first 100 in 1999. It helped me get through so much, I remember after my first fastpack on the Tahoe Rim Trail in 2001 that I would some day get it tattooed on me. During the 165 miles of running and hiking which two friends and I finished in 72 hours, I pulled that paper out and read it at least 20 times.
Becky Barcon: Aravaipa Running has the best race directors ever! This tattoo on my right shoulder represents the community of Aravaipa Running as well as the owners who are my inspiration for trail running. I have never experienced a more accepting, motivating, fun group of people and I will ALWAYS support them in any endeavor.
Candice Burt: While setting the female Fastest Known Time on the 93-mile Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier in 2012, I had a very close encounter with two mountain lions. I finished the route solo and unsupported in 31 hours and 11 minutes. This year, I decided to get a tattoo on my upper leg of a mountain lion, as my experience on the Wonderland was at once the most frightening moment of my life and also the most empowering.
Candice Burt: I also got a tattoo this year of an outline of Lake Tahoe, the location of a new race I’m directing, the Tahoe 200 Mile Endurance Run—one of the first of its kind in the United States.
George Plomarity: Coyote!
Leah Nicholson: This tattoo of the Blue Ridge Mountains on my right shoulder is inspired by miles and miles in the mountains.
Jeff Barbier: I have run Lake Sonoma 50 miler every year since 2008 (inaugural year), so got this tattoo my left forearm.
Jeff Barbier: Featuring the 2013 Western States Endurance Run, this tattoo on my left thigh is dedicated to my mom, who passed away Easter Sunday ’13.
Justin Walker’s tattoo depicts a piston and flame pumped by a heart. The combination of flesh and machine expresses Walker’s interest in the body as a machine. “If you take care of a machine,” he says, “it will keep working for a long time. That is what I think about with my tattoo—take care of this machine that is carrying me all around these beautiful places and it will take care of me.”
Katie DeSplinter: “Relentless” became somewhat of a mantra while running my first 100 miler. I had never run over 50 miles before, and had a great deal of things going wrong, as I was inexperienced and making rookie mistakes like not eating for the final seven hours. Yes, I said seven. Throughout the day and night I became fixated on a single thought and a single word in order to tune out the dissenting information – all the details that wanted me to give up and end the self-administered pain. If I wanted to finish what I’d started, I had to be relentless in my pursuit.
Larry Kelley: My tattoo is a set of dog tags surrounded by a series of images representing ultras from 50K to 310 miles. The outer dog tag is mine as a symbol of my time in Desert Shield in Desert Storm. The back tag is my Dad’s, who lost his fight with cancer in November, 2012. The single image representing my biggest accomplishment is the outline of Iowa with ‘MS 310’ written inside. In 2013, I traversed the entire state of Iowa, from the Missouri to the Mississippi rivers, to raise awareness about MS. I designed this one to create a lasting, yet dynamic, memory of each new distance I reached. The idea came to me in the middle of my first 50-miler, that happened to me in during a freak blizzard in KS in March 2013. I was at a low point, thought of my Dad and it all just fell together.
Kara Teklinski: In Greek mythology, a phoenix obtains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. I chose this because I did not grow up active or a runner and completely changed my life about 10 years ago, assuming a healthy lifestyle and ultimately endurance sports. I chose this as a reminder that you always have the power to change.
Sandi Nypaver got this quote tattooed on her side after a transformative 10-day running expedition with the nonprofit Impossible2Possible (i2P).
Sandi Nypaver’s other running-inspired tattoo is a mountain graphic with the phrase, Silently Strong, which she says, “reminds me to be thankful for my past, as it helped me to be the person I am today.
Michael Evans: Just a reminder of the obvious!
Maria Lanka: My tattoo is to commemorate my first trail 50K at Way Too Cool 2010. I did this race after battling back from serious heart issues. The medical world had its doubts but I’m happy to say that in the end, these concerns were wrong! I’m now doing 50 milers and looking forward to doing my first 100 next year.
Tyler Tomasello: On my left calf, this is the logo from the Club Mas Loco shirt from the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon. I got this tattoo after Micah passed away a few years back. His race and his dream were some of the most influential things that ever happened to my life and I am forever grateful so this is my tribute.
Tyler Tomasello: This tattoo is a work in progress that started when I was 21. Over the past 8 years, I have experienced a lot of different beautiful things that nature and life has to offer. The mountains, the ocean and the earth are huge parts of who I am. My back has a mountain that is part of the continental divide, Perry’s Peak, a mountain that I see every day and one that I train on regularly. On each side of the mountain there are two hibiscus flowers tattooed very differently representing the two sides of the Gemini twins. Under it all there is water that fades into a tree; the tree represent my love for the earth and nature. In the limbs of the tree there are four letters, T.A.M.I., which stands for “To All My Inspiration.” Sitting at the base of the tree there is a man meditating, and above his head there is a flower with 96 petals, which represents the 3rd eye chakra. Underneath are roots. What does this all have to do with running? Well, my love of the earth and nature is my motivation to run, because “When you run on the earth, and with the earth, you can run forever.”
Maria Dalzot says her mountain tattoo gives her power: “[It] is my way of being free spirited, a rebellious act. It makes me feel brave and reminds me to be strong.”
Pierre Oster: Frog Dog.
After running his first ultra in 2012, the Cactus Rose 50-Mile, Rob Goyen decided to get a tattoo of his finisher’s medal: “I wanted to feel like I could keep [the race] with me forever and remember the dedication, time and effort that it took to get there.”
Thompson Brock: I got this tattoo on my right calf after completing Ironman, which I trained for 5 years. It was my goal that I set after completing my first 5K and realized that I was born to be a runner. I only run ultramarathons now but the tattoo always serves as a reminder of my ability to set goals and accomplish them. I am going to get my next tattoo after I complete my first 100 miler that I am currently training for.
Jonathan Drummond commemorated his first ultra finish with an outline of the state of Georgia with the GUTS (Georgia Ultra Running and Trail Running Society) logo inside it. His other tattoo is a Yeti with a water bottle, representing Yeti Trail Runners in Georgia.
Donna Potts-Walling: I got this tattoo a few years back just after my first 50K. In the grass the “50K” is written with room for 50M and 100K … if it happens. It was when Trail Runner Nation was giving the free Kokopelli fake tattoos, and I took my ideas to my tattoo artist and we put this together.
Have a trail-running tattoo you want to share in this gallery, too? You can submit photos with detailed caption info to email@example.com and we’ll add to this gallery as we receive images.