Trail Runners and Their Tattoos
Runners share the stories behind their trail-inspired ink
The author and her ink, inspired by her successful 2012 unsupported FKT attempt on the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier.
Given our propensity for adventure and sometimes even pain, it's no surprise that many trail runners don't balk at the idea of getting a tattoo. Many get tattoos to commemorate or relive their most meaningful experiences on the trails, and to keep themselves motivated and inspired to run.
While setting the female Fastest Known Time on the 93-mile Wonderland Trail around Mount 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.
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. Getting these tattoos was a way of further making Lake Tahoe and my mountain lion encounter a part of my physical being—a reminder to go after my dreams, no matter how big or scary they may be.
Here are the stories of several other trail runners and their tattoos.
Sandi Nypaver came across this quote after a running expedition with Impossible2Possible.
In 2009, mountain runner Sandi Nypaver, now 25 and living in Boulder, Colorado, embarked on a 10-day running expedition with the nonprofit Impossible2Possible (i2P) with ultrarunners Ray Zahab, Jen Segger and Marshall Ulrich. Having struggled in the past with many hurdles including extreme shyness, depression and a belief that she didn’t have the right body type to run, Nypaver found the i2P expedition transformative.
“I had been putting limits on myself since I was a kid and the quality of my life suffered,” she says. “Suddenly I was being told my perceived limits were just in my head and I could do things like run 100 miles and that it was okay to dream big.”
Nypaver came across a quote from i2P soon after the trip: The only limitations we face are the ones we place upon ourselves. “It summed up my experience perfectly and I never wanted to forget it,” she says.
Nypaver has one other running-inspired tattoo, 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. [My tattoos] constantly remind me of the person I want to be.”