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Aug 14th 2021

Everyone can use a bit of inspiration, especially as we surpass the one-year mark of COVID-19 hitting our world-wide community and knocking many of us off our feet – quite literally, in some cases.

Although there’s no denying that all of us are amazed by professional athletes and their incredible ability, determination, discipline, and skill, there’s something equally inspiring and truly refreshing about the stories we learn from athletes a little more… like the rest of us. 

You know, the athlete who doesn’t have a six-pack and runs sub-six-minute miles for a living every day (though we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we wish that were us!).

Athletic fans and world, we’d like for you to meet longtime INKnBURN Ambassador Henry Ward.

Photo Credit: Progress Through Photography –

He may not be a professional athlete, but his story is just as captivating. And we love that he loves INKnBURN, of course.

Soon-to-be-published author, ultramarathoner, sobriety warrior, husband, and father are just a few words that can be used to describe a handful of his accomplishments. 

However, the words personable, uplifting, good-humored, and a fascinating storyteller might give you a little more insight into what having a conversation with him is like. 

And you should see him dressed as the Grinch – it’s a rather alarming… er… we mean charming resemblance.

Is that you, Mr. Grinch?

One of the most incredible parts of Henry’s story is his triumph in becoming a recovering alcoholic and addict.

Hearing him talk, it is clear he is passionate about three things: his family and dog, Wini, running, and helping others find their own road to recovery.

Henry with his beautiful wife and son.
Don’t underestimate this adorable little furball… Wini can run 20+ miles per week!

November 17, 2008 marks Henry’s final decision to turn his life around. 

Two days later, he checked himself into a treatment center and began his journey to sobriety after 22 years of drug and alcohol abuse. 

Although he was 100% committed to his decision to change his life, he also experienced a void that needed to be filled. 

In May of 2013, he found himself involved in a new, much healthier addiction: running

After his decision to become sober, Henry realized something was missing.

“I’d wake up early on the weekends. 

I had all this energy and couldn’t get it out, so I started walking distance, which lit the fire. 

I always wanted to run, but breathing was hard. So I gave up smoking once and for all,” he explains. 

That gave him the extra push he needed to make breathing – and running – much more doable. 

“Running lit the fire up and made me feel alive. Running filled the void. It’s part of my DNA now.”

After the Boston Marathon Bombing, which hit him particularly hard because Boston was home, Henry and a friend signed up to run an 8K. 

With only two weeks to prepare and a baby stroller to push as he put in the training miles, he found himself at the starting line.

Now, every runner knows that they probably would have given up part way through that kind of a distance as a new runner, especially pushing a stroller… but not Henry.

“I wanted to quit. I didn’t know where I was going, then I passed the bridge, I saw the stroller I was pushing in front of me, and my wife, and then the finish line. When I finished, it was the greatest feeling. One of the greatest feelings of my life.”

One 8K, and he was hooked on running. He signed up for a 5K race the next weekend and another the following weekend. 

And with the running, he made a whole new discovery: the running community. 

Like so many other runners, he found a whole new group of friends with whom he found a connection and bond. 

He met up with old high school friends also in recovery and connected with mentors and training buddies. 

He also discovered the thrill of seeing his race times improve.

What started as an 8K turned into a half marathon and a full marathon in his first year of running. 

“And then I went right from marathon to a 54 miler… nothing in moderation!”

Zombie Henry looking fresh post-race!

While some of us would say running 54 miles is more than enough, Henry didn’t think so. 

He went on to run the Javelina 100, the Boston Quad, the Badwater Cape Fear 51-miler, and the ultramarathon list goes on. 

Next ultra for 2021? The Cocodona 250 Mile Endurance Event. 

Yes, you saw that correctly: two hundred fifty miles.

Wow. Enough said! We’ll be clapping from our couches while eating popcorn and cheering you on, Henry!

Some years into ultrarunning, Henry discovered INKnBURN. 

He’d heard about it on Facebook, and later saw a booth at the Boston Marathon expo. 

“I ran in there, found the booth, and asked if they had the red, white and blue original flag [design]. 

They had one, and it came with a bag – it was the last one, and it was my favorite shirt.” 

It was meant to be, obviously. 

He liked it so much, in fact, that he wore it in the brisk 40-degree weather just to show it off. 

And like most INKnBURN fans, he couldn’t stop at just one. 

He also went home with the Sugar Skull and Calavera designs and got hooked, naturally (hey, we can’t help it… we love our designs just as much as everyone!). 

After a short time, it was clear to Henry that the next logical step was to apply to become an INKnBURN Ambassador. 

“Quickly, I realized I was surrounded by some pretty cool people. 

I still keep in touch with some of the ambassadors from that first year today.”

Of course, we wanted to know why he prefers to wear INKnBURN, and we love his answer:

“The gear is original, artistic, and it fits my personality. 

The gear you get from races smells. INKnBURN doesn’t.” 

Ah yes, the stinky race shirt. This is true… we’ve all experienced it.

What else does he love about INKnBURN?

The fabric, naturally.

“I live in the desert, and the Dry I.C.E. fabric is quick-wicking.” 

Considering he lives in Arizona, we can definitely understand why quick-wicking would be important.

Although it’s tough to narrow it down to his favorite design, Henry said he really likes his Calavara Pullover.

“The colors are just so vibrant. I get a lot of compliments!”

Photo Credit: Progress Through Photography

For the record, he’s also a huge fan of the Run Or Die designs.

On Surviving the Pandemic

When asked about how he has dealt with the pandemic, his response was surprisingly uplifting. 

During a time when many of us have understandably struggled through job loss, falling off of the healthy-eating wagon, and spent more time watching reruns than lacing up our running shoes, Henry had a different take on job loss.

“I could have sat there on the couch and had a pity party. Not every day was great… but the pandemic gave me time. 

Time to run more, and time to spend with my family. 

I got a house. and I wrote a book. 

Maybe this pandemic was training.”

Nice hair, Henry!

Darn it, Henry, here we are eating bacon in our oldest pair of INKnBURN yoga pants lamenting about the fact that we haven’t had the energy to cook and therefore need to order takeout again… and there you are raising the bar by writing a book during the pandemic! 

Way to make the rest of have to reevaluate that bite of chewy deliciousness! Okay… we kid. 

We actually love it.

Treadmill ultramarathons? Yes, it’s a thing. A 66.6-hour thing, in fact.

As if writing a book during a pandemic isn’t an amazing enough feat, Henry went on to run Satan’s Sidewalk 66.6 Hour Treadmill Ultramarathon early this year to raise money for addiction recovery. 

While this was far from Henry’s first ultramarathon, the multi-day endeavor was a pretty fascinating event because, well, it took place on a treadmill. 

The conversation went something like this:

Us: How did you survive 66.6 hours on a treadmill? Was it awful?

Henry: (laughs) The time went by really quick – it really did. 

There were no lulls, no death marches, no this sucks I hate this, I want it over quick

No dark moments. 

It was an incredible experience.

So what’s his secret? Because inquiring minds need to know how to survive an ultra without dark moments and death marches. Henry, how’d you do it?!

“A lot of it’s in the head,” he explained. 

“It’s a mindset. 

It’s eating real food… 

I had carne asada tacos all three mornings. 

My friend crewed for me and there were classes going on at the gym, so I was distracted the whole time…

You can do anything you want to as long as you put your mind to it and stay in the moment. 

I had to worry about whatever mile I was in.”

Running the mile he’s in at one of his many races!

Over the course of the 66.6 hours, he covered 204.08 miles on two feet and raised $4,000 to help others battling with addiction and alcoholism. 

If that’s not incredible, we’re not really sure what is.

What We Can Do To Help

When it comes down to helping others who are struggling with addiction and alcoholism, the best people to ask for advice is someone who’s been there. 

Henry is that person, and he has a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to helping others facing a similar battle: Running Without The Devil.

“You have to be 100% ready to be done,” is Henry’s advice on recovery. 

“It’s all or nothing. Not 90%. 

I was so stubborn and set in my ways. 

I didn’t listen to anyone who told me I had a problem. 

There were years I couldn’t do anything about it. 

I had to go to treatment, but I had to be done, committed.”

Do what makes you happy. 

Find a happy place and try things that are new. 

Keep your mind busy during this pandemic. 

Read, do yoga, meditate, run, walk. 

Don’t suffer in silence. 

Tell someone. 

Reach out and don’t be ashamed. 

If someone is suffering from mental health or addiction, speak up! 

Someone else might be going through the same thing.”

Feeling inspired? We are, too! Thanks for sharing your story with us, Henry!

Photo Credit: Progress Through Photography

For more information about Henry and his nonprofit work, check out his website at

You can check out Henry's book, Running Without the Devil!