Traditional Raramuri ball and hoop (Rarajipari & Ariweta) races were held on December 8th in Huicorachi, a town in the heart of the Sierra Madre. The Rarajipari is the men's event and is 100km, the Ariweta is the women's event and is about 42km.
This guest report was written by the event director, Mickey Mahaffey, a resident of Urique and an active supporter of the Raramuri. Inspired by the Ultra Caballo Blanco and the revival of running amongst the Raramuri , Mickey has been successful in helping the Raramuri revive their traditional races.
The next Rarajipari and Ariweta events are on January 17-18 in Urique. Enjoy the photos and read on!
by Mickey Mahaffey
About 1,0000 Tarahumara and 100 outsiders gathered on the rim of Cerro Colorado Canyon in the area called Soroachique for the Carrera de Los Pies Ligeros (Race of the Light Feet). Catalina Rascon and Francesca Osorio crossed the finish line side by side to win the women's ariweta race covering 8 laps or about 42 kilometers while tossing a corded ring with a wooden stick. Seven girls all aged 13 who made up the team from Urique finished all 8 laps. They were rewarded cash prizes totaling 7000pesos plus blankets, water bottles and vouchers for food.
Arnulfo Quimare, the legend of rarajipari in the Sierra Madre, and his cousin Juanito Quimare took first place in rarajipari after running 19 laps or 95 kilometers while flinging a wooden ball with their feet. Fifty runners started the race. When Florencio Quimare, the last man standing for his team, stopped because of stomach cramps the race was called and Arnulfo and Juanito were announced as winners. They won 16,000 pesos divided between them and various other prizes.
The young ariweta runners and a small group of young men from Municipio Urique were sponsored by donations from Will Harlan/Mickey Mahaffey with Barefoot Seeds and their new program, Alumnos Ligeros, Light feet students, to support these young teenagers in school, races and passports. The first recipients of scholarships from the organization went to Catalina and her brother Silvestre. Their trip to Huisuchi was also made possible by the Presidencia of Urique.
The food for 1,000 of meals for two days was provided by b the very kind and generous people from Corriendo Por Los Raramuri, a group of runners from Cd. Chihuahua, Banco de Alimentos from Cuauhtemoc and 300 kilos of corn harvested at Rancho Las Delicias in Urique.
We were especially honored by the attendance of Dr. Dan Lieberman, world renowned scientist of human evolution who is currently proposing that the Raramuri sandal, huarachi, conforms more naturally to a runner's foot and traditional running shoes and are one of the reasons why the Raramuri rarely have leg or foot injuries. Dan was accompanied by Dr. Aaron Baggish, the official cardiologist for the Boston Marathon who is conducting tests on the hearts of Raramuri runners. And my most special guest, my daughter, Stephanie Mahaffey. They also contributed generously to the success of the event. We also welcomed Maria Walton and some of the organizers from the Ultramaraton Caballo Blanco and appreciated their contributions
In all my years of participating in and organizing races I have never seen a race with such power and dignity, such pure athleticism as I saw in Soroachique especially from Arnulfo Quimare. For 4 years we have organized the races in Urique which have been attended by 1000's of Raramuri. But this race on their home turf was a once in a lifetime spectacle to behold. It was like stepping back into the ancient times of these incredible people.
The Presidencia of Urique, Cecy Villalobos and I are working now to organize the next race in Urique on Jan. 18-19. Our efforts are focused on doing everything possible to revive the traditions of the indigenous races in support of Micah True's original efforts through the ultra marathon.
To read more about Mickey and his projects in the Copper Canyon, visit barefootseeds.org.