Tattoo Ideas for a Marathon Finisher

Updated April 17, 2017

Running a marathon is a feat that requires months of preparation and practice. Some runners like to remember the completion of a marathon by doing something special. Whether you are running your first or 100th marathon, you may wish to commemorate it by getting a tattoo that will be a reminder of the efforts you have went through to cross the finish line.

Shape of a Runner

Since the movement of running is very specific and can be recognised from afar, you could get a tattoo of the silhouette of someone running. This could also allow you to include some background and make it blend in with another tattoo if you already have one. When choosing a background, include elements specific to the city where you completed your marathon as an additional reminder. For example, if you completed the New York City Marathon, you may wish to have a small image of the Statue of Liberty and the skyline in the background, while those who completed a marathon in Hawaii could instead include palms trees and lei flowers.

If the location was not an important factor to consider for your marathon, you could instead have the shape of the runner crossing the finish line. In this case, the runner could have both arms up in the air when crossing the finish line so that their body can rip the ribbon. You can customise this tattoo by having the runner and the ribbon in contrasting colours to show that the ribbon breaking.


A marathon has a specific distance of 26 miles and 385 yards in commemoration of the legend of the Greek soldier, Pheidippides, a messenger who ran this distance from the Battle of Marathon to Athens. The distance was standardised to 26.2 miles in the 1924 summer Olympics in London. A tattoo of 26.2 is a simple way to represent the challenging distance of the race. The number can be tattooed on its own, in a stylised font, framed or hidden inside an existing tattoo.


Runners take a long time deciding which shoes they will be wearing for their training and in a race as it can have a huge impact on their performance. A tattoo of a running shoe could be a good way to symbolise the completion of a race. You can customise it by making it look as much or as little like your own shoes as you like. You can simply show the shape of the shoe or be detailed.

For a creative touch you could add wings to the shoe you chose, which will make it appear as if your shoes are about to fly away. Runners and other athletes recognise this symbol as a synonymous of track and cross-country sports.

Completion Time

Getting a tattoo that indicates your finishing time is also a great way to remember your marathon. This is more personalised, as it will be unique to you. If you plan to do more marathons in the future, you may want to plan to have your tattoo in a place on your body where there will be space for you to keep adding other results as you complete more races. The back, the thighs or the arms would work well for this type of tattoo.

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About the Author

Marie-Pier Rochon has been writing since 2005. She has served as a writer at PlaceForPoeple and a newsletter writer for the Creative Sydney festival. Previously, Rochon also worked as a communications adviser for various Canadian federal agencies. She earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors in organizational communications from the University of Ottawa.