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Shadow Runners in the Limelight

Shadow Runners in the Limelight

By Stefan Mūller

Many runners are shadow runners.

Shadow Runners, whether road and trail never run in the limelight.Stefan Muller

A Shadow Runner cannot be found in the front or leading the race, apart from maybe the first 30 seconds of a race, and will normally be found towards the back of the race pack. In boxing speak this runner would be considered a journeyman who does not really win any races but completes the distance and within cut-off times. As a matter of course, this is what the Shadow Runner sets out to do and enjoys the challenge, be it a 10km or an extreme multi-stage marathon. Taking part and being part of the running community is what counts.

As far as recognition goes, this is where it becomes interesting because it is difficult to identify or locate a Shadow Runner post-race, solely from the media. Normally, a runner would find numerous photographs from different locations taken during the race and quite a few at the finish. Photographs can also be found from before and after the race, which is good for the forerunners but very few photographs capture those at the back of the pack.

A Shadow Runner is not your average couch potato who decides on a whim that it would be a good idea to put on running shoes, hit the road or trail and put in the distance. The time invested in training can be as demanding as that of an elite runner as time invested over work and family responsibilities requires a fine balance to allow for any runner to participate in races.

Financially the pressure is also immense as the support of sponsors is basically non-existent.

The whole existence of any sizable event, be it a 10km or a multi-stage race is dependent on a certain number of participants to ensure the viability of such a race. Considering that only 15% of runners consider themselves serious or competitive runners and 62% are frequent or fitness runners, it would be safe to assume that of the 62% of runners1, at least half are considered shadow runners.

Shadow Runners can also be considered as the glue that keeps races together as they tend to motivate and assist other runners to reach the finish line. With this thought in the lead, they are the non-competitive competitors who are the custodians of the overall spirit of distance running, namely camaraderie.

I truly enjoy being a shadow runner. It allows me to enjoy every race and contribute to the camaraderie without the pressure of a chasing pack. I finished the KAEM in 2013 and 2014. In recognition of the phenomenal everyday Shadow Runners, GibConsult sponsors the “Shadow Runners in the Limelight” campaign for the “not forgotten runners” at the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM).

Join us for the KAEM at Augrabies Falls, South Africa, and run where there is light for the Shadow Runners.