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Cabro Colorado's Guide to the "Copper Canyon" Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon

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Cabro Colorado's Guide to the "Copper Canyon" Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon

If you have any questions on travel or race details, please Contact Us or visit our Travel Page or Race Page

*This was originally published by Mas Loco Chris Labbe (Cabro Colorado) as a PDF on http://www.caballoblanco.com/guide.pdf, it has been updated by the Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon team to reflect any current changes.

*The information contained in this guide is from the experiences of Cabro Colorado. If the opinions or experiences of Animales Mas Loco that are not Cabro are used, every attempt to give credit where credit is due has been used.

What is the Caballo Blanco "Copper Canyon" Ultramarathon?

This is a very big question… ultimately the race is an ultramarathon designed to celebrate and encourage the continued development of running as a central element in the culture of the Raramuri Indians of Central Mexico.

In a less philosophic sense, the race is a mountain running festival with multiple days of hikes with the Raramuri, followed by a 51 mile race in the bottom of the Urique Canyon of the Copper Canyons in Chihuahua, Mexico.

The race was originally called the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon. It has since been renamed the Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon to in Memory of Micah True (known to many as Caballo Blanco), the founder of this wonderful event.

Why should I run in the CCUM?

If your goal is to win more races, then you should not be running this race. You might win this race, but that is very much not the point of this event. This is a celebration of running. It is a celebration of the Raramuri. It is a celebration of Central Mexico. The CCUM is an event unlike any race you will find anywhere else.

What’s up with this Korima business?

Korima literally means “sharing without caring” … put another way, give what you can and do not expect any thanks for the giving. It’s strange business for us Americanos. If you give something to a Raramuri they will take it. Sometimes they will acknowledge the gift … most of the times, not. It’s not an insult, it’s the way they live. The reward is in the giving, right?

Who is Caballo Blanco?

Find out for yourself by reading articles posted on the website or by googling “Micah True" Born to Run and “copper canyon ultra marathon”.

Arrgh! I’m trying to plan my trip, but can’t find any schedules or info!

It can be intimidating thinking about navigating through Mexico to find buses and trains that can't be arranged ahead of time. Cabro felt the same way last year. Now that he’s been through it once, he can tell you that it's pretty easy as long as your willing to roll with whatever happens, think on your feet and have no shame for trying to use crappy Spanish in nontouristy places.

How much dinero should I bring?

*ballpark figures only

Hotels will run between $15 & $40 per night, but you will almost always have the opportunity to split room costs. The extended plan is 7 nights and 8 days … makes for around $300 in food and lodging Transportation into and out of the canyon towns will vary depending on your route choices. However, buses/vans from the train in Bahuichivo down and from Urique back up will be $15 to $25 each. Throw in a few other expenses (like paying a Raramuri to make you some huaraches) and $400 would be a fair amount to bring.

Can I use traveler’s checks or credit cards during the trip?

Batopilas

There is very little opportunity to use credit cards, especially in the canyon towns. There is a cash machine in Creel and a bank that can advance cash against your CC. After that, no chance. Traveler’s checks are a similar story. The cambio de checques in Creel or the bank in Creel can convert your checks. Past this point in the journey, it’s basically a cash world. In general, you should convert enough $$$ to pesos in one of the major cities (Los Mochis, Mazatlan, Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua) and avoid the stress of being peso or cash limited. If you run out of pesos, many of the Mexicans will take $$$ at a favorable exchange to them. This year the normal exchange was around 13p/$1.

I hear the course is unmarked. How will I know where to go?

*The course is now marked with white paint at interserctions and critical points.

There really is no way to get lost on the first spur. It's a road that leads up to Guadalupe Coronado and back down to the river. Then we run up another Canyon on single track to Naranjo. For the 2nd leg, 6+ miles of road is the main part, then cross and follow the river to Los Alisos and the grapefruit orchards. The path is wide and obvious all the way to Los Alisos because of the sponsored trail maintenance. For the 3rd leg, all road back to Guadalupe Coronado and back to Urique.

Do I need camping equipment?

No. Unless you intend to deviate from the basic plan, you will not need any sleeping equipment. You will be “pampered” by central Mexico standards.

Do I need to speak Spanish to survive this trip?

Cabro’s experience says that the Mexican people truly appreciate anyone trying to speak Spanish. Many of them can speak English and will respond quicker after a feeble attempt by an Americano to speak Espanol. However, there will be many people in the group that are either fluent, or can hack their way through. Spanish language is NOT a requirement for joining this adventure.

Can we talk to the Raramuri in Spanish or English?

Maybe … some of the Raramuri will also speak Spanish. They speak a unique language that is not rooted in the latin derivatives. Here is an online translator you can use to entertain yourself.

Where do we stay in Urique?

Sponsored event lodging is at Hotel Estrella del Rio. The Rio is nice enough by Mexico standards, but these are not always as nice as cheap hotels here in the US. A bed and a basic bathroom is what you should expect. Cost should be about $35 per room.

Hotel de los Cañones is on the main street, nice enough old place for about $20 to $30 will be an option.

Campers may pitch tents or get a room/bed at Entre Amigos, about $8-$20 bucks....Nice piece of land, good shower, ect... Los Barrancas at around $40 is available as well. There are many more hotels in Urique an several options available. Reservation in advance is recommmended.

How do I get to the race start? *seriously tight budget (from Caballo Blanco himself)

• Bus to El Paso • Get to the Americanos bus station on El Paso street on the El Paso side of the international bridge. • Buy a ticket on the next bus to Juarez bus terminal earlier the better • AMERICANOS bus will stop at the border while Mexican passengers are having their luggage inspected by Mexican customs, you go into the migra office and get your tourist card...tell the bus driver what you are doing so he waits. This ride will cost ya about $15. • When you get to the Juarez bus terminal, buy ticket on next bus to Chihuahua city (about $30). 5 hours later you will be in Chihuahua city bus terminal. • There will be a direct bus to Creel (about $25) leaving at 2 and 4pm (4 1/2 hour ride). • If you miss all rides to Creel in Chihuahua city, there is a really nice hostel, with rooms right next to the train station. Hostel is owned by a French guy, called Casa De Chihuahua. • Next day get on the early second class train to Bahuichivo, or first class if ya want to spend twice as much money and leave earlier. ALL transport from Bahuichivo station to Urique will wait on the 2nd class trains to arrive....so.....hurry up and wait, or wait and hurry up? Your choice. • Train from Creel to Bahuichivo station is about $15

Semi-tight budget

Fly to El Paso, follow instructions above

Less-tight and I want to ride the train through the lower canyons

Fly to Mazatlan • Bus to Los Mochis • If you get to Mochis • Catch train to Creel or Bahuichivo

More $$$ less buses

• Fly to Los Mochis • Train to Creel or Bahuichivo • Fly to Chihuahua • Train to Creel or Bahuichivo • Creel to Urique - Catch first or second class train to Bahuichivo for $12 to $24. Then catch public bus to Urique for $12.

What should I bring to the race?

Our only fire. We had a low-carbon trip.

As little as possible. You can rinse/wash stuff in the river or showers. There will be no need to dress up for anything we will do. Everyone will be wearing t-shirts and running shirts. Running shoes and a pair of hiking sandals is enough. If you have more than a big backpack and a small hiking type pack, you are probably over packing.

The Raramuri will graciously accept any small gifts or tokens you might bring. There are several great pictures of La Brujita Jenn Shelton sharing Clif gels with them. This is a sweet treat they are not accustomed to.

For running fuel, you can BYO or use what will be available at the race. Pinole is a very finely ground form of roasted corn and mixes well in water. It makes for a terrific carbohydrate source. Last year Cabro used this and some gel packs as his only fuel source. You can buy pinole in Creel or Divisadero before heading down into the canyons.

Can I drive down to the race?

*Driving info from Caballo It is an awesome drive and fast there is a shortcut over the mountains halfway down the freeway thats right between Juarez and Chihuhua, that avoids Ciudad Chihuahua and brings you out at Ciudad Cuauhtemoc....2 1/2 hours to Creel. Takes about 9 hours total......11 real easy.

More information on driving down can be found on Mexico Horse's website

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I can still remember the day as if it were yesterday | A Tribute

by Cabro Colorado I can still remember the day as if it were yesterday.

Planes, broken down busses and too little sleep.

Confusion from elementary language skills.

Excitement for the adventures ahead.

A long, beautiful train ride through a very strange land getting to know a brother as an adult for the first time.

Fascination at the realness in conversations with a World class athlete.

First sightings of the colorful Raramuri people.

Opportunity to gaze over the grandest of grand canyons.

Wondering how we would find the Horse in such a busy pasture.

And then there you were. A cartoon of a man. Larger than life with a huge smile and genuine happiness to see us arrive for the great journey.

The land was rough and beautiful. The company was intimidating for a new ultra runner. They moved like you did, graceful and beautiful through the rugged terrain.

Our journey down to your home was bumpy, dusty, smelly and noisy thanks to the strangest person I had ever encountered in my life ... a monkey that would soon become a very good friend.

The group was eclectic. Gathered from all corners and collecting an Italian Eagle along the way.

Batopilas was wonderful with odd encounters in town meeting Nacho Barracho, a surprisingly fast person and talented violin maker when sober.

The run that day out to the mission has always been one of my favorites among a thousand runs. Simple, relaxed, joyful. Watching elite runners take running casually. Experiencing true running talent as the scantily clad and dangerously beautiful La Brujita passed El Perro and myself with insane speed as she floated down a lengthy hill.

Eating at each of your favorite Oma's houses was always a joy and the lady in Batopilas brought class to a tiny house in a tiny town while treating us all like her family.

Our hotel was small and somewhat like a dorm. We gathered in the hallways and played as if we'd known each other for years. Instant bonding, joy, bristling with excited energy for the long journey ahead.

Too soon it was time to leave and conquer the intimidating 30+ mile hike from Batopilas to Urique. The mood somber to start. Then lightening as the warm sun help thaw our moods and souls.

The day was full of intriguing encounters. A real chance to truly meet many interesting people and discover their stories. Girrafe, Gavilane, Venado y Venada, Bujo, Rana … even Cabrocito who I was growing to know and like more each day.

Then, suddenly and silently the Batopilas Canyon legends were standing there. Meeting the men, these champion of Leadville legend and their descendants. Careful introductions. Respectful. Quiet. Gentle touching of hands.

I remember running up behind some younger ones just for the joy of watching them disappear through the woods in the blink of an eye. Laughing at the gentle play.

Mono and I trying to get ahead to use the digital video cameras to get some footage of these camera shy people.

Learning to run down through the rugged terrain by stepping properly on chingocitos … trying to stop sounding like a herd of buffalo next to people that made no sound. Slipped no rocks. Always knew where and how to step.

Rest, respite, grapefruit, tequila-moonshine in excess. A very sick Tortuga del Sol.

Crashing on the long, long, soft trail downhill but getting up with streaming blood to run down while passing Raramuri, hooting and hollering. Any chance of a future race was over, but respect from the Raramuri was building.

Then we made it to town and it was clear who the Rock Star was. Urique loved you. They loved us. The loved the Raramuri. Everyone wanted to know if we were Corredors and figure out who could possibly beat their champion.

The people were nice. The company rewarding. The food outstanding. The sun and culture helping to thaw out my soul even more. Real change had become to take shape in my way of looking at life and people.

The race was anti-climactic. The real journey was in the pre-race events. Long hours pre-walking the course with more chances to talk to and play with the Raramuri.

But the 30 of us celebrated afterward in the true spirit of Korima. Giving freely of congratulations for runners of all speeds. Making a point to congratulate young and old Raramuri on the effort even if the course and heat proved too much that day.

Immediately I knew I would be back and had the incredible privilege of traveling with my wife the second time. A time for us to fall back in love after slipping too much into the routine grind of life.

The 2nd year did not capture the same magic as the first partly because you got so sick and my natural tendency to lead in a leadership gap thrust me into the RD role. I could not relax the same with my broken Spanish and big-wig Mexican officials coming into town. I began to understand how much work you did to make CCUM happen ... a catalyst for the formation of a group dedicated to protecting the race and assisting in fund raising.

But I took pride when it was done and you were able to get to the starting line while we all watched the incredible power of the first Raramuri women to join in the journey.

Then, the shocking finish as a humble turtle took down a National Champion and the women's winner showed she was back to the Champions form she held before a long absence.

And we should never forget how your leadership in the simple joys of a simple race launched other races into existence. Important races.

I hope to run them someday since people I call friends started them boosted by the confidence of seeing it grow organically.

We disagreed at times but always respectfully. Stresses and pressures got in the way of our friendship. I grew tired of being your banker. I grew tired of the stresses of trying to understand your complicated and often conflicting views. I grew tired of being on one side or the other between people I wanted to include as my friends. I grew tired of the efforts in leading Norawas de Raramuri where it deserved to go.

But I never got tired of knowing you were out there, helping the world in your special and unique way.

I never get tired of having such good friends in my life as a result of your uniqueness bringing together people from such diverse backgrounds, cultures and mindsets.

I truly believed that if anyone could survive tragedy for a few days, it would be you. That you would come walking out or the Mas Locos would get in there and find you. I wanted to fly down so badly and help but knew that I could be nothing but a liability in my current form.

The final reality has hit me very hard. I did not see this coming. I had come to understand and accept that my problems were mine and I had lost something special by leaving it behind.

I had planned to be there in 2013. To find the Raramuri that had become friends. To spend time in the Canyons before and after the race delivering corn and renewing our friendship.

To see that huge smile and goofy cowboy hat one more time in a chance encounter on the trails in Boulder or Leadville would be priceless.

To tip one more hoppy brew at Twisted Pine and talk about the future of the race, beyond measure.

Kuiri ba norawa,

Cabro Colorado

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