My introduction to La Sierra Madre of Mexico was in November of 1994. That was the summer when a team of 7 Tarahumara indians, [most of them from the same village of 400 people], smoked the Leadville 100 mile race. I had been recruited to run with a raramuri[runner], to pace him the last 50 miles of the race. During the course of running all afternoon and night with Martiamo Cervantes [who finished 3rd], We became good friends, a friendship fueled by the shared experience of a 10 3/4 hour run together, ups and downs[both literally and figuratively], and mutual respect.
That winter I made an announcement over a Boulder public radio station that I was looking for coats and sweaters to deliver to the Sierra Madre mountain town of Choguita, the town located at 8,700 feet where my raramuri friends lived.
The coat drive was a success, giving away 400 quality coats and sweaters to the men, women, and children of Choguita.
The gnarly drive to this beautiful mountain valley was such a rough and traumatic experience that I was in no hurry to leave this lovely valley, where I camped and visited with the people for a week, having the opportunity to share some wonderful trail running; also running the 'jeep' road that had taken me 5 hours to negotiate 30 miles in my camper truck, in 5 hours 15 minutes by foot! This run required much less gasoline and stress then had the drive!
The winter had passed; I had traveled to Southern Mexico and returned in the spring for a visit, showing up in 'la sierra' just in time to participate in a 75 mile foot race. This was exciting to run with the raramuri on their home turf! The night before the race, all of the raramuri were gathered to eat dinner and I was introduced as being the amigo of often-time winner Martiamo Cervantes. I was greeted warmly as all had heard of this 'loco' gringo called 'Caballo Blanco'. The man called horse [me], grinningly produced a photo of a flying saucer hovering over lake Attitlan in Guatemala. The wide-eyed raramuri were even wider eyed when I announced that the beings in the flying saucer were my "ayudantes"[helpers]. Surely this crazy gringo with the extraterrestrial helpers would be the man to beat! The race was to begin at 7 a.m.
That night was a typical night before a race kind of a sleepless night. I was up bright and early eating oatmeal and downing a big cup of some strong espresso.-7 o'clock in the morning came, and the raramuri were engaged in their pre-race, high-tech stretching and warm-up session; this consisted of laying around on rocks or smoking cheap filter-less cigarettes! 9,10, 12 o'clock rolled around and by this time I was exhausted from using up all of my nervous, coffee induced energy. The raramuri on the other hand, were/are the most relaxed people who I have ever seen!
The race finally started! I was surprised to see the 20 or so raramuri go out in a sprint, like it were a 5 km race. I, on the other hand[or foot], plodded along, actually eventually catching up to 2 of the 20 raramuri. The race went into the middle of the night/early morning. The winner took 10 hours and 5 minutes to make this mountainous run; the next 5 runners were all within 5 minutes!
May the raramuri and all our relations [all of them] continue to run free!
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