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.
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Guest Post by Daniel Oralek, 2nd Place Finisher in the 2012 Ultra Caballo Blanco
A Poco Loco Run is any run held in honor of the late Micah True and with some benefit to Norawas de Raramuri.
On 3/13, the pueblo of Urique, Chihuahua became alive as 137 International Mas Locos, 170 Mexican Nationals, and over 350 legendary Raramuri athletes, shared the valleys and peaks of the rippled earth of Las Barrancas del Cobre (The Copper Canyons) for the 11th annual, 50 mile Ultramaraton Caballo Blanco.
Mas Locos y todos... For me, the celebration of 2008 is more special than ever, and as a result, I have pulled all stops to help create beauty.
As many of you know, It was a difficult late summer/fall for the ol` Caballo, having contracted and just recovered from West Nile virus, then driving my truck over the edge of a 90 foot cliff just before entering my destination of the deep canyon town of Batopilas. I count my blessings; you all, among them.
What probably saved my life was the fact that I took out a tree while falling. That broke the fall. That tree gave her life for me. Thank you sister.
After recovering, a certain intensity to really live came over me. Who knows where or what I will be next year, and I have become obsessed to leave something of sustainable significance behind...hence, the seed farm. I almost traded some of my personal values in exchange for a pretty good donation to our seed farm...NOT to me; to our sustainable agriculture aspect of this run event.
Thanks to our unconditional sponsor, El Zorro del Cielo, and his donation to us through Native Seeds/Search, I will soon be prepared to purchase up to 10 tons of corn for the Raramuri people. The prizes for the top 10 runners is 7 1/2 tons of corn, and any canyon Raramuri who finishes the run receives 500 pounds of corn......After the 10 tons--20 thousand pounds are awarded, anybody else who finishes prizes are up to me to supply. And I hope to have the honor to buy more!
This event is not about the BEST....we want to encourage Raramuri to run, whether good runners or not.
SEEDS: In taking full responsibility for my decision to turn down the gear company offer to donate pretty good--but, not good enough money to our seed farm, in which all of your feedback was very important to me, wondering what the true cost of accepting money from a corporate interest would be, I feel personally obliged to do my best to give back to NS/S and grow that seed farm, so that in the future, we will not have to deliver so much corn.....So that the people will once again take pride in being the self-sufficient, independent ones that they have historically been.
The world is changing. The basic concept of unconditional love remains the same.
It would be really cool to have the ability to go out and win a thousand bucks this race, then give it back to the people! That will not happen for me, so, I pledge a thousand bucks from whatever I earn as a guide this year to our 2009 seed farm.
Thank you all so very much for attending this party....taking the time and expense required to do so.....I REALLY appreciate you, from Mas Locos, to aspiring to be, to aspiring to aspire.
Tu Norawa--amigo, Kaweki Rosakame--Caballo Blanco
On Wednesday they began to come, 5 international runners and el Caballo Blanco hiking 18 tough miles, from the Rancho Del Oso, located in a juniper, oak and pine covered valley above and between the rim of the Urique canyon and the train station. We hiked out of the valley 1,300 feet in about 6 miles, then down...down...down 5,000 feet on some wider trail, single-track and almost no track, very rocky in places, to arrive at the start of the race in the deep canyon pueblo of Urique. There we encountered 45 Raramuri - Tarahumara runners - that had hiked over the mountains from their homes in the Batopilas canyon, calmly sitting and waiting, practicing "The Tarahumara stretch", which consists of lying around, doing nothing, totally relaxed. There was live music performed by Tarahumara professional musicians at the Saturday evening fiesta. For the presentation of runner's tank-top race jerseys with numbers, we had over 200 participants, 8 from the United States, a French-man named Erwan Le Corre, and Hiroki - el Dragon de Japon. Most of the over 200 entered were Tarahumara, from all parts of La Sierra Madre, representing all of the four municipales [counties] that make up the Copper Canyon region of Chihuahua, Mexico.
Sunday morning was announced by the many roosters crowing. The RD, Caballo Blanco, did not have to worry about awaking on time, because he had not slept - all week! He would sleep when it was over. It was a beautiful race/run in which everybody involved was able to actively participate and see the progress of the race as it unfolded, due to the format of out and back loops, up river and down. Each loop had an added trail extension climbing 1,500 feet or so up lovely side canyons. The course is mostly rough dirt road with the extensions being awesome trail, some rocky and narrow; the Los Alisos loop, 7 miles total of trail extension, is absolutely gorgeous! I had the opportunity while trotting along, to encourage all "Bien Hecho" - well done.
105 runners finished the 47 mile ultra marathon to win the minimum 500 pounds of corn awarded to ALL finishers, including 64 year old Tom Masterson, from Canada and Boulder, el Marmot, who finished the 47 miler in just under 12 hours. Tom gave it away to the old folks of Urique. All "Gringo" participants finished the 36 1/2 mile version, at least. Bien Hecho!
Places 1-5 won a ton of corn each. Places 6-10 won over $200 dollars and a half ton of corn.
In addition: First place won 30,000 pesos - over $2,000 Second place: 20,000 pesos - $1,500 Third place: over $1,000 dollars Fourth place: over $600 dollars Fifth place: over $350 dollars
Further calculations add up to: The top 5 won a total of 100 costales of maiz. The second 5 won total 50 costales. The finishing 95 after that won a total of 475 costales.
Yes, MORE prizes to finishers than winners.
625 costales of Maiz, at 50 kilos a costale, is over 62,000 pounds of Maiz - the cash equal value to purchase other foods as needed - which is 31 tons of Maiz.....
NOT a bad day at the office!
There were 7 beautiful Mukiras [Raramuri women] running, and they all won excellent prize money and maiz [corn]. Lucilla, the local health clinic worker, finished the race in 14 hours, showing why women are tougher!--:] She won cash and corn. We had one "gringa" woman run with us this year, compared to the eight we had last year - Thank you Vicky Stephens of the U.S. Army! - and we hope to have many more again next year!
The international winners ALL gave their corn back to the Raramuri and local people in whatever form they chose. The overall race winner, Will Harlan [El Chivo], gave all of his cash and corn to the first Raramuri, third place Arnulfo, saying that Arnulfo was the "True" champion, not having the luxury nor means to be able to train, covering ultra distances in daily life wearing huarache sandals just to work and live, tending his goats. When Arnulfo was asked by the press what he was going to do with all the money he had won, he said "Comprar chivas" [buy goats]....It was very beautiful that the winning "Chivo" [goat] would choose that spirit animal as his helper--:] Everybody won a wonderful experience. The participating Tarahumara runners were all fed and housed during their stay in Urique, treated with respect, like champions.
The "gringo", international runners interacted with all like the brothers and sisters we are. Everybody and anybody who participated in the 2009 CCUM [Copper Canyon Run], in any way, shape, or form, was sure to have left the deep canyon country knowing that we are ALL winners. To run free in peace and harmony, to act out of love and KORIMA [Raramuri word meaning: sharing], transcends the negativity, greed and violence that has become and remains all too common.
May the Raramuri and ALL of us continue to run free.
Micah True Caballo Blanco---RD
Will Harlan [el Chivo[ North Carolina--6:38:51 Hiroki Ishikawa [El Dragon] Japan--6:45:48 Arnulfo Quimare--Munerachi, Batopilas--7:05:36 Juan Quimare--Munerachi, Batopilas--7:11:22 Silverio Morales--Guachochi--7:14:03 Florencio Quimare--Ocorare, Batopilas--7:17:40 Luis Cleto--Piedras Verdes, Urique--7:19:22 Roberto Salinas--Guachochi--7:27:30 Selvando Gutierrez--Munerachi, Batopilas--7:34:15 Jamil Coury [El Carnero] Arizona--7:39:05 Nick Coury [El Aguila] Arizona--7:39:05
225 starters for the varied distances. 105 finished the 47 mile Ultra Marathon, including the last finisher in over 14 hours, Lucilla Vega of Urique.
An AMAIZING 31 tons of corn [the value of] was awarded to the people.
In case you are wondering "What the ........"
The top 11 were already mentioned...Nick and Jamil tied for 10th place. We had 4 Mas Loco gringos [and Hiroki!] in the top 11, but only Tom Masterson finished the 47 miler after that. The rest were mostly Tarahumara with LONG names, that I cut to two! And upon typing most of them, I could not send nor save - lost in cyberspace!
So, finally managed to get this list out between cyberspace and copper Canyon trail-space!
Maurilio Churo--Bocoyna- Marcial Luna--Gavilana, Batopilas Jose Madero--Choguita, Guachochi-- Erculano Reyes--Guachochi Isidro Borica Piedras Verdes, Urique Felipe Quimare--Chinivo, Batopilas Manuel Luna--Gavilana, Batopilas Arturo Hernandez--Guaguevo, Urique Juan Roman--Guachochi Emilio Torres--Guapalyna, Urique Leonardo Perez--Piedras Verdes, Urique Anastacio Perez--Piedras Verdes, Urique Jose Hilario--San Jose Del Pinal, Urique Ignacio Bustillos--Guachochi Juan Contreras--Guachochi Santiago Hurapache--Munerachi, Batopilas Dolores Estrada--Huicorachi, Urique Corpus Estrada--Huicorachi, Urique Sebastiano Gutierrez--San jose, Batopilas Martin Quimare--Chepatare, Batopilas Porfirio Villegas--San Jose, Batopilas Arnulfocito Mendoza,-- Santa Rita, Batopilas Rey Gutierrez--Batopilas Arfonso Gutierrez--Batopilas Ignacio Palma--Kirare, Batopilas 9:19 Juan Churro--Bocoyna Ramon Leon--Corareachi Carlos Herrera--Choquita, Guachochi Sebastiano Contreras--Guachochi Eligio Batista--Guachochi Roque Perez--Guachochi Juvencio Rojas La HIguera, Urique Modesto ubezari--Cineguita Barrancas Isidro Carillo--Churo, Urique Arturo Gonzales--Guachochi Manuel Munoz--Guapalayna, Urique Benjamin Nava--Panalachi, Bocoyna Rosario Quintero--Piedras Verdes, Urique Clemendo Patricio--Batopilas Mario Rodriguez--Urique--10:02 Antonio Palma--Batopilas--10:05 Emigdio Hernandez--erocaui, Urique--10:12 Evaristo Cubezari--Chinivo, Batopilas--10:14 Marciano Salmeron--Huicorachi, Urique--10:15 Luis Cubezari--Batopilas--10:17 Loreno Herrera--Guachochi--10:19 Selvando Cubezare--Batopilas Juan Rojas--Batopilas Horacio Estrada--Huicorachi, Urique Evaristo Leon--Coreachi Jose Merino--Mesa de Moribo Porfirio Villegas--San Jose, Batopilas Javier Cubezare--Batopilas Albino Gonzales--Guadalupe Coronado, Urique Santos Gonzales--Guachochi Angel Aguilar--Churo, Urique Julio Cabada--Pie De La Cuesta, Urique Reyes Gonzales--Gpe Coronado, Urique Pablo Ortega--Cerocahui, Urique Bautista Gonzales--GPE Coronado, Urique Ramon Ramirez--Guachochi Porfirio Gonzales--GPE Coronado, Urique--11:17 Lazaro Cubezare--GPE Coronado, Urique--11:24 Enrique Salas--Huicorachi, Urique--11:50 TOM MASTERSON--BOULDER COLORADO-11:53 Nicolas Mora--GPE Coronado, Urique--11:56 Felix Nunez--Batopilas--11:56 Felix Nunez--Batopilas javier Moreno--Urique Patriio Leyba--Batopilas Rafael RAMIREZ--Urique--12:08 Bruno Portilo--Urique--12:08 Lorenzo Castro--GPE Coronado, Urique Evaristo Cubezare--Cineguita las Barranas Juvenio Gonzales--GPE Coronado- Morenos Contrera--Guachochi Luis Martin--Guachochi Rosario Ramos--Guachochi--12:14 Miguel Perez--Guachochi--12:15 Eber Urial--Chihuahua--12:23 Daria Gabelgan--Chihuahua--12:23 Felix Ayala--Coreachi--12:30 Gabriel Mora--GPA Coronado Sergio Moreno--GPA Coronado Frederico Tores--GUachochi Ercolano Urapachi--Batopilas Carlos Cocheno--Urique Antonio Prias--GPA Coronado Antonio Delgado GPA Coronado Arnulfo Gonzales--Urique Candelario Perez--Guachochi Hermilo Gonzales--GPA Coronado
Maria juliana--Huicorachi, Urique--10:29 Cristina Vega--Guachochi--12:28 Mariela Largo--Guachochi--12:28 Luciela Vega--Urique--14.00
Running Free in Peace was the theme of this years CCUM. While some are at war in many parts of Northern Mexico and the world, we came together at the bottom of a deep canyon to share with the local people of the region, eat, laugh, dance, run, and create peace. The news reports are grim; many are scared away, the Mexican economy choking from the lack of tourism, the people sad to be generalized in such a sorry, scary way, feeling abandoned by the outside world. What to do? Run Free!
Sunday March 6, 2011 was just another beautiful day in the deep canyon country of la Sierra Madre. Earlier in the week they came, 26 international runners hiked with Caballo Blanco from the Rancho Del Oso lodge above the rim of the Urique canyon and 7+ miles under the train station, out of a lovely mountain valley covered with juniper and pine trees intermixed with interesting rock formations, over a pass at 6,700 feet, then gradually down through ranch country in the pines before hitting mountainside narrow singletrack wilderness, and down, down, down, skirting deep side canyons into the vast 6,200 feet deep and wide Urique canyon.
We took about 7+ hours to make the long day hike. All runners were pointed to a few inexpensive lodging options and met the other runners who had traveled by bus, train and vehicle, a total of 40 international runners, at Mama Tita's plaza restaurant to drink cerveza, eat tasty food, and meet the other runners. All received their Club Mas Loco--Copper Canyon UltraMarathon t-shirts and a commemorative poster.
As the week moved on with the runners, there was an equal number of Mexico nationals and local mestizo runners signed up to run as well as a daily influx of many Tarahumara [raramuri] runners and family that were provided a blanket and freshly killed and cooked cow, pozoli and frijoles to eat. Some befriended and ate with gringo participants. About 230 Raramuri would eventually arrive in Urique and some were given Nascar tire tread and sandal making material brought from El Paso by long time Copper Canyon Mountain bike guide Ray Molina, who would also run and complete the 51 miler. Barefoot Ted and a team of "LunaTics" came wearing BF Ted's designed Luna Sandals, named after Manuel Luna, a Raramuri whom had inspired Ted to begin to make huarache sandals. As always, it was a beautiful cultural exchange of trail running people, all happy and respectful.
Saturday evening was the presentation of runners numbers on white tank top Mas Loco shirts and an introduction of the teams as well as lots of Folklorico dance and a very good Mariachi band. "Viva Chihuahua" was a favorite tune played by the soulful cantador [singer] who intermittently mixed singing with playing a mean trumpet!
The roosters crowed early and all runners made their ways to coffee and whatever was the desired breakfasts. Caballo and Raramuri ate pinole, and others fed themselves accordingly to prepare for the 6:30 start, that was ten minutes late.
Andale! The race began with the lead runners blasting off the line in front of the urique town plaza like it was a 5 km. There was quite a mixed assortment of different faces, colors, and running attire, literally, as many tire tread sandals patted down the street leading out of the small town and onto dirt track to the Tarahumara village of Guadalupe Coronado, which is upriver 5 1/2 miles from the start.
At Guadalupe Coronado we were given a colored bracelet showing that we had arrived, then circled the church and headed back the way we came until crossing the river on a new bridge 1.5 miles from town, then heading up the other direction on a long sustained climb of 2+ miles on dirt road before veering onto our first awesome singletarck trail, climbing smoothly on freshly maintained trail with some rolls a little under a couple of miles to an old footbridge where the trail crossed the lovely parrot filled arroyo Mescalera and climbed steeply for a couple more miles to the lush mountain mesa settlement called Naranjo [orange tree]. We looped around the settlement, many thinking that the long 2,800 feet in 5.5 mile climb had ended, but, it had not, until flattening out at the top and another church where we took aid, got another colored bracelet, and ran the soft dirt road with stunning views of where we had come before beginning a long descent back into the town of Urique to finish our first 22 mile loop.
Towns-people were lined up in the streets to cheer, and in the case of the RD Caballo, to heckle. "Andale Caballo viejo--muchas muchachas adalante!"--get moving old horse, lots of girls are ahead. I just grinned and stamped my front foot, making the horse sound and acting like a stallion just cut loose. The people laughed.
In front of the plaza was the most stocked aid station along with drop bags, as we would loop through to this place a couple of times. We would then run down river 6 miles on dirt road running right through another town called Guapalyna before crossing the river on a footbridge to encounter the most beautiful trail portion of the run to Los Alisos.
Los Alisos is about 3.5 miles and 1,500 feet of altitude away, with the roller coaster climbing trail really adding quite a bit more accumulated climb. Lead runners, all Raramuri, had already been coming back when I arrived at the bridge, with the fastest having already crossed the bridge and blazing the road back to Urique. I was surprised to see a 20 year old Tarahumara from the Urique mountain settlement of Parochi way ahead at that point. His name is Miguel Lara, and I had heard that he is the up and coming, first great runner to emerge from the Urique area Tarahumara since we began the race in Urique in 2005. The young people are running again; and that is beautiful!
The trail to Los Alisos is very testing in the 90 degree heat, southern exposed to the sun and seemingly endless to those looking for an end, eventually arriving at the Grapefruit trees filled small settlement aid station. Los Alisos is an oasis at 50 km, and a very critical part of the run--make it or break it!
After partaking of the scenery, pinole, grapefruit juice, wonderful atoli [corn soup], runners are fueled to return the way we came. This time we run down the roller coaster soft trail at a potentially fast clip to see other runners making their ways up, greeting all with "buen hecho" [well done], soon to cross the bridge over the river again and back to Urique at mile 40. Only 10+ to go! There is also a 40 mile ultra option that ends at that time in Urique. Many would take that option, including the busy RD Horse.
Many had dropped out when reaching the road after re-crossing the bridge returning from Los Alisos, thrashed and humbled. Pickup trucks would fill with dropped runners to ride them back to town, tempting others to jump in. It is at that point of the run when the mind chatters and you think how when finally arriving in Urique there is still that 10+ out and back to Guadalupe again. What time will I arrive in Urique, and figuring the last out and back stretch to be much slower than the first time when beginning in the morning, fresh, and the air was cool.
Caballo hiked most of the last 6 miles back into town after beginning with a run and intermittently trotting. Lots of thoughts ran through my contented mind, evaluating the race, course, aid, conditions. I thought that the finishing rate was sure to be low with the heat that had only just arrived a few days before, and the difficulty of the course, that entertains us with 9,300 feet of climb and equal descent.
Upon my arrival in Urique, all of the top 10 runners had already finished and many more were on their way back from the church turn-around of the last loop at Guadalupe Coronado.
The winner was the young Miguel Lara with a new course record of 7:04! Second place was a high country Raramuri from way on the other side of the Sierra in a place called Tataguichi, in the county of Guachochi. And third was a 23 year old up and comer, Florencio Quimare, from Batopilas canyon. Like in the U.S.A; the young'ens are running strong! The winner won $3,000 dollars cash and a ton [literally!] of corn. Second place earned over $2,000 and third $1,500. The top 5 also all won a ton of corn. The second 5, places 6-10 all won about $250 dollars and 1/2 ton of corn. ALL finishers won 500 pounds of corn. The corn prizes were in vouchers at the value of the corn to purchase whatever food items are desired or needed.
The women's race saw a Chihuahuensa woman winning, Hiroko Suzuki from Japan took second and Crystal Basich from Ohio won third place. All top women showed mucha class and kindness by giving their winnings to the Raramuri women who had won fourth, fifth, and sixth places.
I was/am very happy to have endured the ups and downs, the stress and uncertainty of the last 9 months or so, MUCH more difficult than the run itself, which was just another beautiful long journey through amazing canyon country with people I count as friends.
What had weighed my spirit down this time was the uncertainty of support, the growth of the event and potential greed that goes along with something so successful.
Thanks to the new secretary of tourism, Cecy Villalobos, her enduring work the last few weeks before the event, the continued enthusiasm of the good people inhabiting the small deep canyon town of Urique, the Raramuri runners emerging from ALL over la Sierra Madre and deep canyon country of the Copper Canyon region of Mexico, and ALL international runners everywhere. Without all, this event would/could not happen. Kuira Ba: Raramuri greeting, meaning literally "We are all one"---
March 6, 2011. The town was a big party, the people dancing, everybody celebrating as one. For that day we were all one. Even the out of shape and non running spectators were one running people.
The town had filled up with people to witness this now famous event. For a few days there would be more people in Urique than the rest of the year combined.
At the awards ceremony, $11,000 in cash was awarded by the town of Urique and their sponsors, and the food value of 60 tons of maize was provided by yours Truly, the RD Horse Caballo Blanco, working with www.Norawas.org. Nick and Jamil Coury, from Arizona, were the only gringos in the overall top 10. They generously gave back to the people.
For a few days in early March, 2011, together, we all created peace in a small town at the bottom of no-where. No-where but beauty. What more is there? Run Free!
Micah True [Caballo Blanco] RD Horse
Last Saturday, Maria Walton, race director Luis Escobar, many Mas Locos and hundreds of free runners gathered for the Born To Run Ultra Marathons, held this year in honor of Caballo Blanco, who remained listed as a registered runner for the 100km.
Everyone gathered at the East Creek Ranch in Los Olivos, California, for a celebration of all things dear to Micah: friendship, love, freedom, sharing and running free. The event started with a Chabochi (foreigner) version of the Rarajipare, the Tarahumara traditional ball race, followed by an evening of BBQ, of reunited friends, even some tattooing and a lot of fireside stories. Then, at 6:00 am sharp on Saturday, all the runners started together, with some running 10 miles, 50K, 50 miles, 100K or 100 miles. The celebration lasted until noon the next day. As always, peace was created and all came back with fond memories.
We will post images and videos of the event in the days to come.