Runners are people who are implanted with a tracking device by the Wraith. They are then set free and the Wraith hunt them down; for their amusement or training, the exact reason is unknown. Unfortunately, Runners have been known to inadvertently lead the Wraith to cull Human settlements. It is for this reason that Runners are solitary, and never stay in one place for long.
It is unknown exactly how many runners there are, but given the amount of tracking devices detected by the Atlantis sensors while searching for Ronon Dex, there are at least six (they detected seven, one of whom was Ronon). (SGA: "Runner", "Sateda", "Tracker")
- Main article: Wraith tracker
The tracking device is what makes a Runner. It is implanted in the back, near the second thoracic vertebrae, to prevent the victim from reaching and removing it himself. With the device, the Wraith are seemingly able to locate a Runner anywhere in the Pegasus Galaxy. Some tracking devices can be removed with help from a second party, but in the case of the Runner, Kiryk, the tracking device had branched out and fused to his spine and brain stem, making removal of the device fatal. Instead, the power source was overloaded by the electric current of a defibrillator, and the device was rendered inert. (SGA: "Runner", "Sateda", "Tracker")
- Main article: Wraith hunter
When a Runner is located, a group of Wraith hunters are dispatched to the planet, usually by means of a Stargate, to begin the hunt. They hunt in groups and attack in waves. They are coordinated and will attempt to surround the Runner to close-in on his position. If the signal emitted from the tracking device is lost, Wraith Darts and extra ground units are deployed to guard the Stargate and find the Runner. Once found, the Runner has his tracking device replaced and is set free to be hunted once again. (SGA: "Runner", "Sateda", "Tracker")
- Main article: Wraith tracking system
The Runner Detector is Wraith tech. It works much like a Life signs detector, but detects only the specific subspace signal emitted by a Wraith tracking device. It is worn on the forearm of Wraith hunters and used to pin-point the location of a Runner on the same planet. In 2008, Dr. Rodney McKay and Ronon Dex used the Wraith tracking system to track the Runner Kiryk, who had kidnapped Dr. Jennifer Keller. (SGA: "Sateda", "Tracker")
- Main article: Wraith tracking drone
A Wraith tracking drone is sometimes used as a kind of automated scout for Wraith hunters. Roughly spherical in shape and hovering through the air, it is able to locate and follow the signal emitted by a tracking device. It relays a live video feed to a nearby Hive ship so that Wraith can watch as a Runner is hunted. In 2006, Ronon Dex used the device as a way to antagonize the observing Wraith Leader as he killed the hunters that were chasing him. (SGA: "Sateda")
Survival as a Runner
As commented by Ronon Dex, no runner can survive being one without sharpened survival instincts, honed by their frequent running from the Wraith and the constant fear of being hunted. This was proven by both Ronon and Kiryk's use of traps in the wilderness. This also doubles in their ability to craft improvised weapons from the environment. The most prominent example of this is the sword Ronon created from the hull of a Wraith ship, a wraith mandible and humerus and use the leather from a wraith coat as the scabbard. They also scavenge from the environment, such as Ronon using the abandoned Satedean weapons to his advantage.
Runners, in general, can be fierce warriors in their own right due to their constant fighting of the Wraith. As both Ronon and Kiryk were evenly matched in their brief duel, it is possible to assume that other runners have similar fighting skills. They are never unarmed, always having some kind of weapon on their person or even hidden amongst their clothing. This was often a recurring gag for Ronon, who somehow manages to hide a knife on his person.
While it might not be a common trait amongst runners, but due to their frequent traveling of worlds and scavenging for supplies, both Ronon and Kiryk have gained some sort of advanced technology to give them an advantage over the Wraith. For Ronon, it was his Particle Magnum pistol and for Kiryk, it was his Teleportation wrist device.