Marathon, Triathlon and Running Tattoos

Running Tattoos
If Richmond, VA is particularly great at anything, it’s athletic events and tattoos. So it’s only natural that at some point the two would combine. Marathon, triathlon and running tattoos may not sound like they make a lot of sense at first thought, but you’d be surprised at their popularity and creativity.  After all, a tattoo is simply an artistic expression of your passion. If you happen to be passionate about running, or endurance sports such as marathons, triathlons, or Ironman competitions, then perhaps you’ll get some inspiration from this post.

Marathon Tattoos

boston marathon tattooMarathon tattoos run the gamut from simple and barely noticeable to elaborate works of art. One trend among marathon tattoos is that most of them feature three key pieces of information:

  • The Name of the Race (e.g., Boston Marathon, Monument Avenue 10k, etc.)
  • The Date the Person Ran the Race
  • Their Finish Time or Placement

This serves as a reminder of what many would consider to be a lifetime achievement. It also opens you up to recognition from others, particularly other marathon runners. If you have a marathon tattoo that easily visible, odds are that people come up to you on occasion to ask about the race. It’s perceived as a mark of honor, as well as a testament to your accomplishment.

When it comes to more prestigious marathons, it’s not surprising that some runners get tattoos commemorating their qualifying times. One such story made it into Runner’s World Magazine and featured a picture of a Boston Marathon qualifier getting a tattoo commemorating her qualification for the race. Qualification tattoos typically include the name of the race and the person’s qualifying time.

Running Tattoos

running tattooJust because you haven’t run in the New York or Boston Marathons doesn’t mean you can’t have a sweet running tattoo that celebrates your competitive achievements. Many runners wear running tattoos that are less specific than what we’ve discussed above. Here are some great ideas for full or half marathon runners who want to commemorate their success.

  • 26.2 Tattoos: Many runners wear the number 26.2 (sometimes in Roman numerals to acknowledge the origins of the marathon). This number says it all to other runners, though you may need to explain it to the non-runners. There are also 13.1, 5k, and 10k tattoos that are similar in style.
  • Running Man Tattoos: A stick figure in a running position, this tattoo is often accompanied by race times or distance.
  • One Down, More to Go: With these tattoo designs you’ll often see the distance the person has run followed by strike marks which indicate the number of times that race was run. These are especially common with more grueling races such as marathons, super marathons, and Ironman competitions.
  • Running shoes: Many runners are devoted to their running shoes. Be it a particular brand or model, lots of runners will get a tattoo that in some way incorporates the design of their running shoes. We’ve seen no small number of ASICS and Nike tattoos.
  • Wings, Winged Sandals, or Winged Running Shoes: This is a direct reference to the fleet-footed Greco-Roman god Mercury who served as the messenger of the gods. He was renown for the speed with which he carried messages from place to place.
  • Running Quotes: Ideally, your quote would be a very short sentence. Otherwise it can make for an awkward-looking tattoo. One of our favorites that we’ve seen is a quote from Forest Gump– “I just felt like running”.

Triathlon Tattoos

ironman tattooWhen it comes to triathlon tattoos, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between them and the marathon tattoos in terms of the elements of design. Times, finishes, and race names are all part of the package. There are some unique design elements since the race itself involves running, swimming, and cycling. One of the most popular designs features stick figures engaged in each of the three activities.

  • Swim, Bike, Run: Often depicted as images of water, a bike, and either a running stick figure or a pair of running shoes, this design may or may not feature stick figures in all three images.
  • Race Logos: Most commonly associated with major events such as Ironman, some runners choose to get tattoos that commemorate the specific event that they completed. They are often accompanied by finish times and in some cases are incorporated into larger, more elaborate designs.
  • Triathlete Elements: Based on a design representing the elements, this triathlon tattoo features a circle made of a bicycle gear which contains a wave and another symbol representing running—often a shoe or the imprint of a foot. This generally symbolizes that you are one who competes in triathlons, but it doesn’t specifically state which ones. It’s a great non-specific, all-encompassing tattoo for triathlon enthusiasts.

Considering A Marathon, Triathlon, or Running Tattoo?

triathlon tattooEspecially if it’s your first time, there’s a lot to consider. A tattoo is a permanent mark, but it’s also a piece of art that represents your passion and your interests. Tattooing has spent the last 20 years shaking off a bad rap and today tattoos are more widely accepted and the practice has become more modernized and regulated.  According to many who have running tattoos, the pain of the tattoo fades as quickly as the pain of your last race.

Local RVA tattoo community website RichmondTattooShops.com has some great tips on how to find the best tattoo artist for your marathon, triathlon, or running tattoo.

Running Tattoos Pinterest

Find even more inspiration for your running tattoo at our Running Tattoos Pinterest board.

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