For those not familiar with Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run”, the Ultra Caballo Blanco is a unique 50 mile ultra marathon that offers runners from anywhere in the world the incredible opportunity to run with the local Raramuris, “the light-footed ones”.
15 years ago when I first heard about the Raramuri/Tarahumara, meeting them and experiencing their culture was nothing more than a dream, or at best something reserved only for anthropologists and the most adventurous traveller, both of which I was not.
But today from the Chepe train station town of Bahuichivo in Chihuahua, getting to Urique is only a slightly adventurous 55km, but very beautiful 4 hour switchback bus ride to the bottom of the Urique Canyon,
Click on the photos for a higher resolution image.
The quiet town of Urique is 1,100 inhabitants small and along it flows the beautiful Urique river.
Most of Raramuri had walked for 24 hours and up to 100 km to reach Urique for the 80 km race.
Then on Sunday March 1st at 7am, the13th Ultramaraton Caballo Blanco finally got under way.
And after the tense wait, the start was all smiles.
Most of the Raramuri chose to commemorate Caballo Blanco by wearing the official cotton race t-shirt.
A few also wore the Caballo Blanco t-shirts under their traditional pleated shirts.
Sticks are common Raramuri tools used for running uphill.
Stunning were the Raramuri women with their traditional clothing flowing in the wind as they ran.
What really struck me was also the lack of corporate branding and sport performance products in such a spectacular and demanding athletic event.
These photos were taken at the 30km mark.
For the dozen or so non Raramuri runners from Mexico and abroad, the race was a rare chance to run and connect with Raramuris over the 66 km course.
These sport sole Huaraches were ingenious.
And all the Raramuri protagonists from the book “Born to Run” were also running.
Manuel Luna, Nacho, Arnulfo Quimare and Silvino Cubésare.
But of special interest to me was documenting how the “Pata de Gallo” Huarache is used for competitive running.
Its fascinating that running footwear can be so minimal.
After about 66km finally the finish line was in sight and just 20 meters away!
Rigoberto is 71 years old and with 4 bracelets he ran about 50km.
Resting in the shade after the race.
Waiting in line for the prize corn before returning home, the day after the race.
I hope to be back again next year, the Ultra Caballo Blanco 2015 was for me one of the most authentic celebrations of culture, sport and running.
And as Caballo Blanco said; a message of “truth, peace, beauty and love”, creating “peace and hope, at the bottom of the Canyons.”
Maybe next year I will run, maybe in a pair of Huaraches.