The job of Inca roadrunner was a specialized
profession in the Inca Empire.
Young men studied how to be an Incan roadrunner.
Incan roadrunners carried orders and news from one end of the
entire to the other. They were the mailmen of the Incan
Empire. Messages always reached the Sapa Inca accurately. If it was
discovered that a message was not accurate, punishment was severe.
Each runner would run like the wind for a short
distance along the famous Inca roads. As
he approached the next relay station, the runner blew loudly on a conch
shell to alert the next runner to get ready. The next runner would
appear, running along side him. Without stopping, the first runner told
the second runner the message. The second runner speeded ahead until he
reached the next relay station.
When messages were secret, runners carried the
message in the form of a
quipu - a series of knots and colored string. The quipu
would be handed from runner to runner until it reached its destination.
There, a special quipu reader would decipher the message.
This relay system was so effective that runners
could messages at a rate of about 250 miles a day. Without these
specially trained Incan mailmen, controlling the vast Inca
Empire would have been next to impossible.
The runners did not have guards. They did not carry
weapons with which to defend themselves. They ran alone. They ran like
the wind. The job of relay roadrunner carried great honor.