TASMANIAN running champion David Thomas is used to getting second glances at the start line of races.
His way of responding is to make sure people are still looking at him at the finish line.
With tattoos everywhere, including on his shaved head, a ponytail, nose ring and moustache, the 31-year-old is hard to miss.
But as he reflected on breaking Tasmania's 35-year medal drought at national cross-country championships, the Newstead Harrier said he was happy to let his feet do the talking.
``I think in Tasmania no one cares but on the mainland people think `What is this guy doing? He won't be any good.' But I don't take too much notice if someone is staring,'' he said.
``I only meant to get about half a dozen tattoos but now I'm so far gone I just don't care. I think my mum pretty much disowns me.''
Thomas has become the dominant force in Tasmanian distance running, frequently leading home his state at the major 10-kilometre road races as well as winning events from the Lilydale Lope to Run the Ridge.
He was third behind 10,000m record holder Ben St Lawrence at the Australian half-marathon championships in Sydney, and fourth at the marathon championships in Melbourne before claiming a bronze over 12km of mud at Symmons Plains on Saturday.
``It's probably my best result,'' he said.
``I have not run a nationals since I was 17 so I was very happy to have them here and Symmons is a good course. Muddy as anything _ that's the sort of terrain I train on. You don't bother going round the puddles, just straight through 'em.''
Thomas led for much of the race and while well beaten by Victorian Mitch Brown, was disappointed to see Ben Moreau, of NSW, snatch second.
He was just as pleased to help Tasmania claim its first team medal since 2006.
Living by the sea at Beechford, the warehouseman's alternative appearance stretches to his lifestyle. He doesn't own a television or phone and has no hot water.
``It's fairly basic where I live but it's the lifestyle for me. I could not live in town,'' he said.
``I don't have much because I don't need much. I might get around to getting a TV one day.''
Athletics Tasmania's Richard Welsh said Thomas is the state's best distance runner since Kim Gillard and the length and condition of the national cross-country course suited him perfectly.
``Dave Thomas is not your usual looking runner but is a genuinely nice person,'' Welsh said.
``Whenever he stands on a start line he usually gets a couple of double-takes but in the last 12 months his performances have earned him the respect of most of the nation's best distance runners and he cannot go on being unnoticed any more.''