Ironman Tattoo Meaning, Design & Ideas

There are not many more ways to show how proud you are of an accomplishment outside of getting a tattoo. To permanently ink yourself means you must be proud of the accomplishment it, most likely, took a lot of hard work to achieve.

The Ironman Triathlon is one of the biggest races in the world. It happens many times a year so if you miss your opportunity the first time, you will have another chance.

People who compete in the Ironman must be all-around athletes as the race requires athletes to compete in biking, swimming and running to complete the race.

What is an Ironman

The Ironman is a race put together by the World Triathlon Corporation. The Ironman starts with a 2.4-mile swim, moves to a 112-mile bike ride and then finishes with a marathon which is 26.22 miles. This is considered one of the most difficult races in the world and as you might guess, there are no breaks between segments.

For this event, there is a time limit of 17 hours so if the racer isn’t finished at that point, they don’t get to complete it. Races generally start at 7:00 a.m. You get 2 hours and 20 minutes to finish the swimming portion of the race. You get 8 hours and 10 minutes to finish the biking portion and you get 6 hours and 30 min for the marathon.

Needless to say, this is no easy feat. Therefore, the Ironman tattoo is a popular one. It’s also known as the M-Dot. This looks like a thick ‘M’ with a red dot over it.

History of the Ironman

You might be wondering, “Who is the nut case that created this race?”. Well, believe it or not, people actually enjoy doing this and are always looking for new ways to test themselves. The original idea for the Ironman came up during the Oahu Perimeter Relay in 1977.

During this ceremony, representatives from some of the top clubs for running and swimming were there discussing whose athletes were more fit. During this discussion, U.S. Navy Commander John Collins mentioned that he read in a Sports Illustrated magazine that the great Belgian cyclist, Eddy Merckx, had the highest oxygen uptake of any athlete that was ever measured.

He then suggested the argument should be settled by creating a race that involved all three sports with all of them being long distance. Additionally, Collins suggested using the three races that were already done on the island. These included the Honolulu Marathon (26.219 miles), the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 miles) and the Around-Oahu Bike Race.

Collins suggest naming the race after a local runner who was well known for his intense workouts. Collins claimed whoever won the race would be called “the Iron Man”. They decided to try the race on February 19, 1978. Every racer would bring their own crew that would provide food and drinks. 15 men started the race and 12 finished with a Navy Communications Specialist named Gordon Haller being dubbed the first Ironman.

One fun fact about this race was that a Navy SEAL named John Dunbar was actually leading after two legs of the race but ran out of water during the marathon. His crew ended up giving him beer. Needless to say, this wasn’t an efficient fuel to finish the race first.

The next year, around 50 racers showed up to compete. However, the race was postponed until the next day because of inclement weather. The next day 15 people participated, and Tom Warren won the race in just over 11 hours. Lyn Lemaire finished sixth and was dubbed the first “Ironwoman”.

Reasons for Tattoo

So why do people get the Ironman tattoo? In our opinion, it is obvious. What an accomplishment to put your body through such extreme measures just to see how far you can push it. People work very hard to get in shape for this race. I’m sure we all know someone who has trained for a marathon.

It takes up a great deal of time for that. The marathon is only one-third of this race, so you can imagine what goes into training for this event. Therefore, the Ironman tattoo is a testament to the hard work the racer put in.

Reminder to Stay Healthy and Active

After asking around, not everyone has the M-Dot tattoo as a reminder of finishing. Some use the Ironman tattoo as a reminder to stay healthy. I know a man who started running and training for an Ironman and lost around 75 pounds preparing. He finished the race, but his Ironman tattoo wasn’t a reminder of finishing but a reminder of where he once was and where he is now. He is now happy and healthy and training for more Ironman events.

A Representation of the Ironman Community

People also get the Ironman tattoo as an acknowledgment to the Ironman community. Completing a race like this is a special accomplishment that not many are able to do. This creates a tight community of people who enjoy pushing their bodies to the limit. In this, some great friendships are created.

Not only are new friends made but when traveling to other states and countries to compete in the Ironman race, you continue to meet people who expect the same things in themselves as you do of yourself. A reminder of community is a great reason to get a tattoo. It can be likened to the brotherhood or sisterhood of elite racers

Whatever your reason for getting the Ironman tattoo is most likely a great reason. Only you can determine what your tattoo means to you. People with Ironman tattoos are a special brand of folks who pursue the difficult. They push their bodies to the extreme, so the Ironman tattoo is a badge of honor.

We hope that by reading this article, you have a better understanding of how the Ironman was created and why so many people are proud to wear the Ironman tattoo. If you have any questions or need help finding a tattoo artist for your next tattoo, let us know. Happy hunting!

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