Putting His Best Foot Backward

Shadrack Anderson. Adam A. Palmer Photography

We’ve all heard it before: “In order to get ahead in life, you have to put your best foot forward.”

Shadrack Anderson obviously never bought into the overused cliche. In fact, Anderson believes he’s moving forward by stepping backward.

Confused? Let me explain. Anderson has been opening eyes and grabbing the attention of East Honolulu residents for years with his unique running style. You see, Anderson runs backward, literally.

“When I run, I run with no thoughts in my mind,” says Anderson. “When I do think, I always fall flat and short of any desired time improvement in finishing a race or run. When I relax without any thoughts of my own and open up to the elements and align my efforts with the unknown, I find that my speed increases and my finishing times are cut sometimes by 34 minutes or more!”

It in 1966 on a steamy day in Louisiana. Anderson was a platoon leader on a training mission. He recalls falling into a deep trance in the 104-degree heat and then snapping out if it when one his men pointed out that he was running backward in formation.

“When I run backward I feel vibrational; spiritual is an easy word but it’s not good enough,” says Anderson. “I vibrate so high that it takes hours and hours to come back down, like a decompression.”

In 40 years, Anderson has fallen only four times.

“Truth is, I do 300 percent more at 65 years young than I did at the age of 25,” he says. “I want people to know that altering one’s lifestyle and realigning with the flow and will of nature will guarantee an eternal and potent unending supply of energy.”

Anderson is in phenomenal shape. He’s competed in dozens of marathons — all but one running backward. His best time was 4 hours and 30 minutes. He understands why people stare when he runs by and hopes he is inspiring others to think big. His latest challenge will provide plenty of inspiration.

On Sept. 3, Anderson left Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles and headed for San Francisco. He expects to arrive there in about 40 days. “This is a 483-mile run, and I’m running it backward!” says Anderson, who also is a writer and a musician. “This is an exciting adventure, and I’m doing it because the world needs something different.”

It’s hard to believe, but Anderson says his health was once in shambles. He suffered from hypertension and he admits there was a time in his life when he could barely run around the block.

Today, he trains several days a week, working to improve his strength, posture and stamina. On Saturdays he heads to East Honolulu, where he catches the eyes of curious onlookers.

“I wake up at 1:30 a.m. and drive to Koko Head Park, where at sunrise I run from Koko Head Park to Makapu‘u Lighthouse and back to Koko Head Park — backward!” says Anderson. “Then I climb Koko Head Mountain, once backward and once forward.”

Anderson says the one message he wants to deliver with his run from Los Angeles to San Francisco is to challenge people to do something more than what is normal and within one’s comfort zone.

“This ‘Good-Heart’ run is the beginning of the first step of a plan designed to inspire others to want to have improved health, body-glow, stamina and body beautifulness,” says the philosophical Anderson. “The ‘Land of Aloha’ has filled me with the spirit to share and perhaps be an influence to the improvement of those who are seeking increase and spiritual prosperity and the happiness that is unending and everlasting and flows as the hope that is eternal.”

A special man, indeed, who is putting his best foot backward and still moving forward in life.

Anderson is providing updates on his run via Twitter and through his website artistecard.com/backwardsrunningman.