Copper Canyon Ultramarathon 2011 Adventure & Race Report

All runners got a poster for participating in the race

I shouldn’t call this a race report since the objective was less about racing and more about experiencing the culture and the beauty of the Copper Canyon region of Mexico. Arriving at the starting point of the race involved 2 flights, a 2+ day ride in a van and an 18 mile rugged and hot hike down into the canyon town of Urique. The days prior to the race were filled with intense hikes and general overload of the senses with a new language (Spanish) new food (quintessential mexican) and new people (both Urique locals and Tarahumara Indians). I ended up finishing the event, which was my goal. It took me 12.5 hours, far longer than I hoped – but I don’t care too much about that. Crazy and unexpected things can happen after pushing the human body for many hours.

I had an amazing time and plan on returning next year. If you are at all considering doing an ultramarath0n or even visiting the Copper Canyons – I highly recommend it. I felt totally safe the entire time, and see that much of what I had read in the news about violence and killings  and foreign travelers being at risk was overblown. Do your homework before going, but also recognize that the popular media is really good at creating attention grabbing headlines that aren’t always indicative of reality.

The Arrival

The whole crew. Photo from Barefoot Ted (www.barefootted.com).

Day 1: There are many ways to get to Urique Canyon. My method was definitely not the fastest, but it was cost-effective, safe and made for a good chance to meet other interesting people. I flew into El Paso and stayed overnight at a Motel 6 with another racer that I met online. The hotel was clean and safe, and 12 of us were all meeting here to board a van driven by Doug “Diego” Rhodes, who operated a hotel near Urique and served as a guide to visiting gringos. The next morning we awoke to the sight of a large white van parked outside. We immediately wandered out to meet our fellow adventurers. It was exciting to meet the people we would be spending the 10 days with! Everyone was super cool, including a large contingent from Seattle, two people from Ohio, one from California, three from Utah and one from new Mexico. Amazingly, it turned out that 4 people in the van were vegan!

Day 2: We headed south and immediately crossed the border uneventfully (there is rarely much traffic heading south, but always traffic coming back to the US). Heading through Juarez was not a big deal. It’s been tagged as “the most dangerous city in the world” by popular media but it seemed just fine. We past plenty of trucks filled with armed guards, humvees and dudes with machines guns on the streets (military) – but I didn’t see this as much different from other places I’ve been to in South America (Lima or Quito in particular). Diego made sure we moved swiftly through the city.

We departed Juarez after a quick stop to exchange money and continued heading south through a flat and windy desert, stopping in the small town of Cuatemoc for the night. The next day we continued driving to Diego’s hotel…which is more like a ranch. It’s in a beautiful part of the country, with rolling hills pierced by rocky cliffs, pine tree forests, bright blue skies all the time and an elevation of 6000 feet. Here we met Caballo Blanco himself! Caballo is the race director and all around supporter of the Raramuri people (also know as Tarahumara, Raramuri is their traditional name), he would be our guide into the canyon and make sure everything was cool leading up to the race. He is an incredibly genuine and nice dude.

Day 3: The next day we had an off-day, and we welcomed some additional travelers joining us at the ranch. All-told, 27 gringos’ met up at Diego’s place! In the morning I led a yoga class to help get us loosened up. Various groups spent then spent the day exploring. My group went on an adventure that had us hiking and scrambling up the side of a mountain near the ranch. We hit the summit where there was a large flat plateau and started running! We explored a bit and eventually spotted a trail that descended the other side of the mountain toward a small town. We took the trail and made it down into the town, and returned back to Doug’s place via a dirt road. In the afternoon. A few of us went out on another hike to visit Tarahumara burial caves, complete with lots of human bones.

Raramuri burial caves. Photo by Pat Sweeney (bourbonfeet.blogspot.com).

Day 4: After lots of food and a night’s rest, we prepared for our departure to Urique, which required an 18 mile hike up and over a mountain ridge, and down-down-down 5000 feet into the heart of the Copper Canyon. Our luggage would meet us in Urique via van. All 27 of us loaded up on tons of water and food and proceeded on the hike. It was gorgeous, one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. We spotted hawks, buzzards and wandered close to some “grow fields” if you know what I mean. The temperature rose sharply through the hike – well into the 90′s. The trail was at times steep and made of loose slippery rock pieces and dirt. The adventure had begun!

After 13 miles we hit a part of the trail where Caballo let us loose to run the rest of the way into town if we wanted. It was another 5 miles or so, and a bunch of us took off. It was a tough run for me. I was super dehydrated from the heat and my legs had absolutely no energy. I trotted along slowly and eventually made it into town. The first night I stayed at Entre Amigos, run by a gringo named Keith, with about 10 other racers. It was a gorgeous property full of tropical fruit trees bursting with fresh fruit (papayas, grape fruits, oranges, lemons, limes) and a super huge garden that all guests were allowed to raid at will. He had a bunk house with dorm style beds and a few double-bed room. He also had a bunch of campsites. I opted for a campsite, and since I didn’t have a tent, I just slept with my sleeping bag on top of a tarp under the shade of a mango tree and the stars! We had free use of the kitchen – and cooked out own dinner of fresh beets and kale from garden, with rice, salsa, tomatoes, avocados and tortillas we picked up from a small store in town.

A large mural in Urique

Days 5-6: My friend Jim from New Mexico and I opted to move into a clean and simple hotel room right in the heart of town. Staying at Keith’s was nice but we realize that sleeping on the floor would get old after a few more nights. We got a room with two double beds and a private bathroom at what was dubbed “the nicest hotel in Urique” for 300 pesos per night (less than 30 dollars).

The next two days featured hikes of the entire course, led by Caballo. You might be thinking…”Hey, isn’t it crazy to hike the entire course in the days before running 50 miles?” The answer is absolutely yes!!! Which is why I chose not to do the hikes :). Others did do the hikes, covering 18 miles one day (first major loop of the course) and 22 miles another day (second major loop of the course). The last 10 miles were a repeat of part the first loop and they skipped that. A second reason why I didn’t do the hikes is that I was feeling incredibly sick the day after our hike into Urique. I was massively dehydrated and had a raging headache most of the night. I opted to lay-low and rehydrated. I went out for a 20 minute run in the heat to help acclimatize on each day instead. After a couple of days I felt back to normal.

The best hotel in Urique, and I only saw 1 scorpion while staying there :)

Arnulfo is all smiles as his young kid horses around on his back. He is a Raramuri running champion and featured in the book "Born to Run". Incredibly friendly guy.

The preferred footwear for Raramuri are Hurache sandals made from old tires. They can run incredibly fast over technical terrain with this footwear!

Day 7: Rest, eat, sleep! This was a true day off. The town was buzzing with energy as Raramuri hiked in from all over the canyon. More gringo’s arrived and it was fun just walking around town and meeting people. I led a little impromptu yoga class in the town square which was fun. We had an audience of Raramuri watching us!

Mark from Dallas and I the day before the race, sporting our race bibs!

Pre-race festivities in the town square

There were always bunch of dogs just wandering around town. Most of them were nice - except for the two that tried to bite me while out on a short run! They appeared healthy (as opposed to what I see in some other places around the world). Photo by Laurie Colon.

Crystal (Left) and Laurie (Right) from Ohio with Carlo (far Left) and Jim (far Right) - members of Team USA! Crystal was the 3rd overall woman finisher and Laurie was fifth.

The Course

Urique is nestled deep in the heart of Las Barrancas del Cobre (The Copper Canyons). The race course traversed the canyon floor and climbed several mountains outside of town.

The course featured three loops of 18, 22 and 10 miles – that all begin and end right in the heart of town. In terms of course severity – the overall conditions made it by far the most challenging terrain I have ever run on. Technical trails. Rocky dirty roads that made it tough to run fast even on the flats or downhills. Searing heat (it was over 90 degrees for most of the course, and probably hit 100 in certain spots). Some crazy long and steep climbing. That said, many other gringos who were veteran racers of 100 and 50 mile ultras said the course wasn’t that bad as far as 50-milers go, and that the total elevation change wasn’t super hard (9,000 ft total climbing). It’s all in the eye of the beholder I guess :).

Loop 1: The 18 mile loop had a 10 mile out of back along a dirt road (note: all dirty roads here are riddled with rocks, they aren’t nice and smooth roads like we have in the USA!). This stretch had a bunch of “death hills” (as Caballo likes to call them). The next 3-5 miles was an epic climb on technical single-track up a mountain followed by a winding and long descent on a dirt road back into town.

Loop 2: The 22 mile loop to Los Alisos features a long flat 6 mile stretch on dirt roads before climbing brutally up the side of a mountain for several miles. This part of the course is very hot and exposed with little shade. After hitting an aid station 11 miles in, you turn around and run back!

Loop 3: The final 10 mile repeats the out and back “death hills” from the first loop.

The weather for the entire week of the race was hotter than normal, and race day looked to be the same. Hydration would be super important.

The Gear

Pat Sweeney took a picture of me before and after the start of the race and I look exactly the same! The one on the left is from 6:30am and the right is from 7pm.

My gear was as follows:

  • Lululemon lightweight top
  • Lululemon running/yoga shorts (they have a liner….eliminates chaffing)
  • Bodyglide – use all over or suffer!
  • Headsweats visor
  • Sunglasses
  • Amphipod 22oz handheld bottle
  • Amphipod waist belt with 2 x 10oz bottles and pouch for food/electrolyte tabs
  • Hammer gel flask – holds 500 calories of gel
  • Inov-8 Roclite 295 trail shoes
  • Ironman triathlon socks
  • Medical tape (I tape my pinky and big toes to prevent blisters)

Nutrition

  • Orange flavored Hammer gel bottle (big one) – use this to refill gel flask after each loop
  • Nuun electrolyte tablets – 9 tablets
  • Hammer Endurolytes tablets – 10 tablets
  • Cliff Shot Bloks – two packages
  • Cliff Bars – a couple in my drop bag just in case

Packing for the race.

During the race I planned to consume 250 calories per hour and I came in just under that in actuality. I took in 2500 calories total during race day, which was OK given that I was moving so slow for the last 10 miles. I was never really hungry during the race, and afterwards I was so tired I skipped dinner and fell asleep at 7:30pm! Not being hungry is a sign that I took in enough calories, though I was probably under hydrated a little.

I carried 40 ounces of water with me (handheld bottle and waist belt), with 1 Nuun tablet in the handheld bottle and the other bottles just plain. I carried Nuun with me and dropped 1 tablet in my handheld each time I refilled it (about 1 time per hour). I took 6 Endurolytes during the race – at random times and gave some tabs out to Raramuri that I saw cramping. A key strategy for me was to dump at least 10 ounces of water on my head and back every hour if possible. When I saw an aid station, I immediately emptied my bottled on myself before refilling. This strategy totally saved me from imploding due to the heat.

My calorie consumption was as follows

  • Loop 1 – 18 miles – 500 calories of gel, 200 calories of shot blocks, a ~3 banana halves, 5-6 orange quarters and 2 cups of pinole (ground corn mixed with water) at aid stations
  • Loop 2 – 22 miles – ditto
  • Loop 3 – 10 miles – 500 calories gel, 1 banana and 2 pieces of orange

My feet had zero blisters, which other folks found hard to believe while chatting afterwards. I’ve always had pretty resilient feet and been blister free for most of my running life. Also, the Inov-8 Roclite shoes are incredible and wrapping my toes in tape (it stayed on for the first 35 miles) helped for sure.

The Race

Guadaloupe Coronado and the Big Climb (~18 miles) aka “if you aren’t awake you will be now!”

Mile 15 of the race, a young and and old Raramuri are running together. Note the footwear and simple clothing. Neither are holding bottles or carrying fuel. They rely entirely on aid station support. Amazing. Photo by Leah Kangas.

Mile 1: The race start was 6:45am. The Raramuri are known for going out incredibly fast. It was crazy to see about 100 people take off sprinting as if they were running a 5K! The experienced runners (Raramuri included) stayed in the mid pack and waiting for the carnage to take place during the first major climb. I went out nice and easy as we cruised the flat paved road through town and onto a very rocky dirt road with mild rollers for the first mile.

Miles 2-5: We hit some major hills. Caballo calls them “death hills”. They aren’t that bad by themselves, but in cumulative they will crush you. At this point in the race I start walking anything that even smells like a hill! Some folks try to run even the long hills…I don’t know what they are thinking! The weather stays pretty cool and there are quite a few aid stations…about 1 every 2 miles or so.

Mile 6-8: We hit a turnaround point and retrace out steps. I notice that a lot of the locals are cutting the course! They are taking small trails that veer off the road and re-join the road later on. They aren’t saving that much time…maybe a quarter-mile at most, so I ignore it. The way I see it, I get to use my technical gear and they get to use home field advantage of local trails :) .

I really begin to feel that this course if harder than I thought. The footing is tough even on the dirt road, with tons of large and small rocks and sections with soft dirt/sand. It’s super tiring on my feet and lower legs. I start to get concerned about my ability to finish.

Miles 9-13: Turning off the dirt road, the technical single-track and climbing begins. I walk a ton of this…since we climb for what seems like forever. A bunch of people pass me…and then the field thins out a bit. There are no aid stations on the climb. I’m glad I brought both a water bottle in my hand and two 10 ounces bottles in my waist belt. I am pretty sure I’m not going to finish this race…I am just not in good enough shape and my legs are dead.

Miles 13-15: Finally…an aid station! I grab some oranges and some strange “bags” filled with water. They are like the milk bags we used in school, only filled with water or a Mexican sports drink called “Zuca.” I grab one bag and bite the end, squeezing the water in my mouth. I grab a few more and squeeze them into my water bottles. I grab a few oranges and a cup of pinole. Wow, that pinole is good stuff! The route descents down a twisting dirt road. At times the road is too steep for me to run comfortably, so I sadly walk parts of the downhill.

Mile 16: I round a corner and smell like someone is smoking a joint…a big a strong one. I look to the right and left and see no one in the fields. I keep running downhill and catch up to two young kids (they may have been Raramuri or local Urique boys, not sure) who have been racing since the start, they were about 1/2 mile ahead of me most of the race running in jeans, cotton t-shirts and sandals! They looked like they were 12 years old at most. I then notice they are passing a joint back and forth…I laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of being out-run by two young kids in jeans and flip-flops smoking a joint. I can’t make that up if I tried.

Uh Oh! I'm walking on a flat section of road around 15 miles into the race. Photo by Leah Kangas.

Miles 17-18: Reality sets in about how hard this course is. Caballo Blanco passes me with a big smile on his face and some words of encouragement. He is running light and smooth. I am assuming at this point that I am not finishing the race. My legs are totally trashed half-way down the descent and my feet really are super tired from all the rocks. Regardless, I need to run back to town so I continue on and feel better as we enter back into town to complete this big loop. I head to my drop-bag and refill my Hammer Gel flask and grab some more Nuun and Endurolytes. I decide to start the next loop and see what happens.

Los Olisos Out and Back Loop (~22 miles) aka “a run through the blast furnace”

Miles 19-25: I feel very good during the flat to slightly rolling stretch through the Urique river valley. I pass quite a few people, including a few “gringo’s” that were starting to feel the heat as the temperatures were climbing into the 90′s by now. There were several places to take aid and I enjoyed some banana pieces at each along with 2-3 orange wedges and a cup of pinole. I ran about 80% of this stretch, only walking a few of the bigger hills.

Miles 26-29: After crossing a suspension footbridge I begin the climb to the grapefruit orchards of Los Olisos. The temperature is climbing rapidly and I estimate that is hits at least 100 in this part of the course. The landscape turns into a moonscape devoid of much vegetation as I climb the steep trails. Footing is tough and the trail is narrow. I really struggle just to hike this section. Runners are going both directions on this trail and there are steep drop-offs at some points. I dumb water on my head all the time to stay cool. I’m diligent about taking Endurolyte tablets or dropping Nuun in my bottles. I pass out Endurolytes to a Raramuri who appears to be cramping badly. He is very thankful.

At one point I hit a steep and narrow part of the trail with a cliff on one side and a rock wall on the other. I’m trying to go one direction and runners are coming back at me in the other direction….and a Burro is also trying to navigate the trail amidst all the chaos. I go spread eagle against the cliff until the Burro saunters by and I continue on. Only in Mexico!

Miles 30-33: Hitting the turn-around point I am totally out of water. I ran out long ago and am very dehydrated. I drop some iodine tablets (thanks Mark!) into my bottles and refills at the one aid station (the water was from a nearby spring since they couldn’t carry bottled or bagged water up this trail). I laugh at the sight of the station being manned by a couple big security dudes carrying M16′s! I devour some oranges and carry on back down the mountain slowly. I am super tired and still worried about just finishing. Looking around though, I am inspired by the Raramuri, persisting with little gear or fuel – I keep moving on.

Miles 34-40: Completing the descent I retraced the flat section back to Urique, which is suddenly much tougher than on the way out! My feet are incredibly tired and I run about 50% of this section. I can’t believe that I am walking flat and even some downhill sections but nothing I can do about that. The weather is burning hot. I dump water on my head to keep cool at every chance I get. I run the last mile back into town and hit my drop bag for a refill of Hammer Gel and water. Looking at my watch I realize that no matter what I will finish this course, even if I have to crawl. I have enough time even if I end up needing to walk the last part of the course.

Guadaloupe Coronado Out and Back Loop (~11 miles) aka “death hills”

Miles 41-45: I run out-of-town for a few miles. I see people running the opposite direction towards the finish line. These folks are completing in about 9-10 hours. I’m very jealous! I see some friends and that is cool. Once I hit the first small climb I start walking again, and find running next to impossible. Ever little hill has become a death hill. Caballo was right!

Miles 46-50: It takes absolutely forever to get the turnaround point. All my energy goes into maintaining forward motion and the sun starts to go down and the weather cools. There are fewer people out on the course so there is less to distract me. I’m walking and walking slow. No more power hiking. I try running occasionally and it’s super painful. My friend Bookis rolls up next to me and that motivates me to jog again. We stay together through the turnaround, where I take aid. I tell Bookis (he ran the entire race in Luna sandals!)to not hang with me since I’m not capable of running any more. I continue walking most of the next few miles, and the darkness comes quickly. By mile 49 it is almost pitch black, with just the stars and moon out. I hit a dirt road and occasional trucks passing by force to move to the edge of the road to avoid becoming roadkill. They help to light my way. At one point I almost impale myself on a bull cow that happened to be standing in the middle of the dirt road…lucky for me I heard it’s moo in time!

Mile 50-51: I see the lights of Urique and run back into town. I actually feel a lot better now. Amazing how seeing the finish provides a great burst of energy! There were tons of people in the village, and they were having a finish/awards ceremony on a stage in the town square. There was no post-race tent or food stuff given out. In fact, when I finished it took a few seconds to even find one of the race volunteers to tell him I finished! Surprisingly, instead of him telling me my time he asked me what my time was! I was too tired to talk so showed him my watch, he wrote it down and said good job. 12:32:01. Several hours longer than I thought it would take, but no matter, I finished! I saw some other gringo friends: some recently finished and laying on the sidewalk in recovery while others had been done for hours. I gave some high five’s, took a photo and stumbed about 100 yards back to my hotel room, where my roommate was resting (he got food poisoning and didn’t race).

Start/finish area the morning after the race. Victory!

Nick and Jamil Coury are the only gringo's to finish in the top 10. I think they finished in less than 8 hours. They've both raced here many times. Photo by Barefoot Ted

I met these two kids after arriving in Urique. The one on the right is 14 years old and finished the race last year in 10 hours! The one on the left is the same age (I think). They both finished the race this year, very fast. Photo by Laurie Colon.

The Long Journey Home

Friends departing Urique outside Mama Tita's restaurant.

The morning after the race we said goodbye to friends departing via bus, and then piled into our van for the long and hair-raising climb out of Urique Canyon via a 90 minute twisting dirt road winding its way up the mountainsides. We had an overnight stop in the small Mexican town of Cuatemoc before continuing on to El Paso. My flight home became more interesting when I missed my connection in Denver (after sprinting across the entire terminal!), resulting in another overnight stay! I finally arrive back home safe and sound.

This Copper Canyon experience is one I’ll never forget. I’m already planning on returning next year.

Raramuri waiting for a bus to take them part of the way home. They will then have to hike 50K through the canyon to their homes outside the town of Batopilas.

4 wheel drive

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54 thoughts on “Copper Canyon Ultramarathon 2011 Adventure & Race Report

  1. Ravi, thank you for this race report. I hope to run this event in 2013, when I feel I will be trained and ready for it. And Caballo, thank you for your continued spirit of Running Free. I keep that in mind whenever I am having a difficult time on the trail. On a side note, maybe we can get a contingent together to remove the stick from from Mr. ultrarunners ass.

  2. Hi Ravi! I met you at Born to Run. Stumbled upon your website. What a great account of this race. I hope to participate one day. Congrats on finishing.

  3. I have responded to all comments in response to my original thoughts out of a sense of respect for the writers. I apologise to Ravi for taking up so much space on his blog. I’m, therefore, done on the subject and won’t be commenting further on it, but I promise to read and give full consideration to any more comments you make. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this important issue.

    • Balance….
      create peace however we are able.
      and pray [give ++++ thought] to what we are doing–our actions.
      Nobody is anywhere near perfect. We [humans] are just two-legged confused ones. And those of us whom think they are not are probably the most confused-:]
      As long as I see smiling people—-people running again—running More in HOPE, I will consider it all worth-while.
      Yes, you don’t think I have considered the points [valid] that you have made? You don’t think that I feel a huge responsibility [especially after the book] to keep it all real?
      Los Politicos are using me, no doubt, for their own gain. Many are using me for their own gain. And the Raramuri, being the intelligent observers that they are, just sit back and smile.
      The Chihuahua and federal government has used the images of Raramuri to sell tourism for many years. The raramuri have gained nothing from it but intrusion. Until now.
      This Race is NOT on Raramuri land, They choose to come.
      Tourism has been all but completely destroyed by the narco violence, the senasational news coming out of Mexico. Do the Mexican people of the Copper Canyons not have the need and right to invite international tourists to come and experience their hopitality, giving back [korima-sharing] by spending their $$$ to help the economy?
      I am not going to waste my energy arguing with Senor Ultrarunner nor anybody else. Those [raramuri, mexican or gringo] that want to come are welcome. Those that do not, it is your choice. Run Free!

    • Hard to resist the power of the white man when they have electricity, cars, baseball caps, sports, TV, and many things that some would say make life easier. The CCUM is the least commercial thing I have ever been to. I would say it started as a VERY grass roots thing. I have personally watched it twice. Caballo Blanco is the most down to Earth Non-Commercial person I have ever met. I also lived there in Urique on and off for over a year. It is a wonderful place with wonderful people. I have also been asked to take part in Easter celebrations with the Raramuri. If there is one thing that is a common theme among all of them it is the fact that most of the young are torn between traditional life and modern life. Once modern Money comes to a region it is hard to go back to traditional life.

  4. My wife and I were touring in the Copper Canyon when the race was on. We met a number of runners, gringo and Tarahumara. Yes, we visited Keith’s place in Urique and can vouch for the excellence of the grapefruit.

    You have written a wonderful account of your experience. Really captures the atmosphere and I am so glad to read your realistic account of the security situation in Mexico.

    Good luck next year.

  5. The more I read about this race, the more I realise that, far from “celebrating” anything to do with Raramuri culture and tradition, it is just one big chickenfeed (corn) bribe to encourage the indigenous people of the canyons to perform for the tourists (foreign runners).

    There is nothing in Raramuri tradition that has untrained runners competing, individually, in straight ultras for cash prizes (or corn inducements to complete a given distance in any position or condition).

    Anyone who thinks that this race is not leaving a big, negative anti-culture, tourist footprint on the Rarimuri is deluding him or herself. You’re not sharing their culture; you’re imposing American culture (individual competition, greed, striving, etc.) on them.

    Offering material inducements to participants, especially unadequately-trained participants to finish an ultra distance is an ethically unsound practice.

    Competing against others in a prize race, then “donating” your winnings to the losers, because they appear to have less than you, is also pretty despicable, and surely based in hubris. Such a practice, like all “charity”, must ultimately do more harm than good to these people.

    • I disagree with you. First off, I can see your ignorance from the fact that you perceive corn to be “chickenfeed” (which it is — in Europe!) and don’t seem to understand that it’s the staple crop of southern Mexico, much like wheat flour in the US. Second, I think you have a romanticized, patronizing view of indigenous people if you think they’ve never before encountered individual competition or “striving.” Newsflash: it’s not just Americans who are ambitious.

      Now, back to reality — the raramuri attend Mexican public schools where they compete every day for grades, and, if they have the opportunity to finish school, for university places. They live intermixed with a highly Westernized Mestizo population, working right alongside them. Indigenous versus Mestizo is a largely linguistic — not cultural — distinction in Mexico, so I’d hesitate before presuming that all Raramuri people have some “pure” culture untouched by Western ideas. Raramuri are a diverse people — some like competition, some don’t, some are highly ambitious, some not so much, some love to run regardless of prizes, others run mostly motivated by cash prizes — just like people everywhere.

      And donating your prize back to a community that has hosted you for a week seems more like just saying “thanks for the hospitality” to me.

      • Corn IS chickenfeed, and not just in Europe. Hence the term “corn-fed chicken”. So, my ignorance has not yet been proven, by you, anyway.

        I realise that corn is a human staple in Mexico. I don’t see what relevance that has to my use of the word “chickenfeed” to describe the nature of the bribe.

        I don’t think it is I who has a romanticised, patronising view of the Raramuri, but those who write race reports about them. I offer the race report in this article as Exhibit A.

        When I refer to the Raramuri being encouraged to compete individually in a race such as this, I do so in order to highlight the fact that their running tradition is one of competing in teams, in the ball game. As I said, they have no tradition of competing individually, in straight ultras, for cash prizes, or of encouraging each other, with material inducements, to complete ultra distances, no matter their fitness condition.

        Now, back to reality — the raramuri attend Mexican public schools where they compete every day for grades, and, if they have the opportunity to finish school, for university places.

        Supposing that actually reflected the general situation with the Raramuri, which it does not, it would only serve to bolster my argument that the Raramuri and their tradional way of life are being imposed upon and destroyed by Western “do-gooders”. What on Earth would a university education serve someone who had to hike 50K to get home after running an ultra? How would that person be able to remain in his village and live a satisfying life afterward? The Prussian school system and tradional indigenous culture cannot coexist.

        Thankfully, however, your statement does not reflect general reality for the Raramuri as may be read in the article I now quote from:

        “Indigenous Education in Mexico and Chihuahua

        “The challenge of the Mexican education system -in relation to indigenous education- is to provide instruments and tools to enhance the quality of education in rural schools. As reported by the National Institute for Evaluation in Education “indigenous language speakers, 8 to 14 years, have 13.5% illiteracy. In contrast, among non speaking indigenous languages, this percentage is only 2.4″.10 The causes of low literacy among indigenous settlements are due to many reasons, and in each community will exist elements that have no relation with illiteracy rates in other regions and/or ethnic groups; however, we must not forget that common factors are prevalent among indigenous villages that affect school performance, such as, poverty, lack of infrastructure in public schools and migration.

        “Particularly in the case of rarámuris illiteracy is caused, largely, by economic problems in the family, social effects generated by the invasion of drug trafficking in the region and especially the lack of educational programs that take into consideration a real bicultural/bilingual education.”

        http://indigenouspeoplesissues.com/attachments/4301_Raramuri_Mexico_Education.pdf

        Also, there are no university course available in Mexico offered in Raramuri. In order for a Raramuri to attend university anywhere, he would first have to learn a second language.

        I neither presumed nor claimed that “all Raramuri people have some “pure” culture untouched by Western ideas”. That’s just your unfounded accusation in lieu of a proper argument. However, if their culture is somehow “unpure”, surely that will have come about as a result of Western idea pollution, beginning with the Spanish conquest. Is that pollution’s commencement any reason for its continuance, and by people who have zero stake in, and who take zero responsibility for, the outcome?

        “Raramuri are a diverse people — some like competition, some don’t, some are highly ambitious, some not so much, some love to run regardless of prizes, others run mostly motivated by cash prizes — just like people everywhere.”

        Which Raramuri are offering cash prizes in order to encourage other Raramuri to run? I understand that if you open a McDonald’s in Urique, some of your diverse Raramuri might eat there. I wouldn’t be so much concerned that they might do it than about the potential results of their doing it. I’d therefore advise all outside do-gooders to refrain from encouraging them, by not opening such an establishment in the first place.

        “And donating your prize back to a community that has hosted you for a week seems more like just saying “thanks for the hospitality” to me.”

        So, you would do that in Leadville and other ultra-hosting locations in the US and Europe? Or do you reserve such acts of gratitude for Mexicans, specifically, the Raramuri? If so, why the inequality? Are the Raramuri somehow less entitled to have the oportunity of winning prizes fair and square? I must say that it seems highly patronising to me. How dare you blunder in to such a community and dilute their work ethic?

        I think we’re all well aware of the results of the imposition of Western ideas on the indigenous cultures of the land mass north of the Rio Grande. It appears that those who would like to believe they have learned from that disaster have, in fact, learned least. The lesson is: Leave them alone. Everything you could possibly do “for” them, will be to their detriment.

    • Ultrarunner, have you done the race? Have you even visited the copper canyons?

      I’m afraid you are speaking from a very uninformed point of view and making some aweful assumptions. The entire community is benefiting from this race.

      • No, I have never taken part in the CCU.

        No, I have never visted the canyons.

        And I have never visited a “Native American” reservation in the United States, either. Should I assume that everything has worked out fine for those indigenous cultures. Or are you saying that I should have no opinion, because, not having visited the reservatons, I can’t possibly know what effect Western beneficence has had on those cultures?

        Which “aweful assumptions” am I making?

        I know the Raramuri is an indigenous culture, having been subjected to some traditional influence by Spanish/Mexican culture. I’m pretty sure that heavy interaction with American culture is extremely new to them.

        I know that Western and, specifically horrifically, American intervention into indigenous cultures has produced nothing but suffering and a dilution, when not an annihilation, of those cultures.

        “The entire community is benefiting from this race.”

        Define “benefiting”? Have you studied the Raramuri culture in depth? Have you lived near them for a long time? Do you speak their language? What exactly do you know about them that would allow you to state categorically that they are benefiting from that race?

        How are the Raramuri or, indeed, the people of Urique benefiting by the once a year visits of American ultrarunners, apart from (very few individuals) financially? Would they benefit even more if they could open a casino?

        Yours is a pretty typical, conditioned Western mindset. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that you also believe that bombing Libya will benefit the Libyans, as bombing Iraq did the Iraqis (1 million so far “saved” from a life under Saddam by death – people rioting for electricity, food staples and other basics EIGHT YEARS after benefiting from Western intervention), as surely all white man’s burden intervention has benefited all traditional cultures through the ages. Given your obvious heritage, you might be expected to know better than that.

    • I would like to add that the practice of, as you put it “…donating your winnings to the losers, because they appear to have less than you…” is about sharing. The Raramuri graciously share the beautiful canyons, their homeland and ancient progenitor, with those of us who treat that land, and its people, gently. We are not donating anything. As they have given us this beauty, something unique to their homeland, we return the hospitality with gifts of maize and the reciprocity of respectful friendship.

      • Again, would you do the same thing at Leadville or Western States? Would you give gifts of maize and money to local ultrarunners who didn’t win those races, because they had given you the beauty of their homeland?

        If you’re answer is no, then I must continue to suspect that you are giving these “gifts” as charity, to people you consider unfit to maintain the privilege of earning a prize by winning it.

    • You write:
      “Also, there are no university course available in Mexico offered in Raramuri. In order for a Raramuri to attend university anywhere, he would first have to learn a second language.”

      Sir, nearly all speak Spanish.

      Sir, you are unfamiliar with the social and economic pressures under which these people currently live. The pressure for them to leave their small ranchitos, the weakening of the ejido system under NAFTA, the pressure to leave the canyons to work in factories or to grow crops for narco-traffickers, are the scourge–not education. Will you volunteer to conduct their legal defense when their lands are appropriated illegally? To advocate for or provide medical care to people who may not have local options or even know what those options might be?

      Education helps those who live in remote areas and who are underserved by the State to seek solutions to suffering and injustice, as well as to enrich the world with contributions from their own cultures.

      Furthermore, on the value of education, you should make yourself aware that, in the canyons, it is geared to the needs of its pupils. Imperfectly, perhaps, but who are you to say these children should not be prepared to understand their world in context of the one that surrounds it? Who are you to say they should be defenseless against the violence and other incursions that outside world might bring on them? Who are you to decide? Let them decide! Clearly you are unfamiliar with their own, time-tested ability to understand their circumstances and to adapt when necessary. That adaptation, that self-defense and indigenous self-interest, can be improved by culturally-appropriate education.

      • “Sir, nearly all speak Spanish.”

        If they do, then that stands as testament that my argument that outside pollution is diluting their culture has foundation. I think you’d find though, if you ventured outside of Urique and any other main towns, that the majority don’t speak Spanish. BTW, “all” is approximately 120,000 Raramuri. How would you know what they nearly all speak?

        “Sir, you are unfamiliar with the social and economic pressures under which these people currently live.”

        How do you know what I’m familiar with? I believe I’m likely to be more familiar with those types of social and economic presures than you are. Please, though, describe for me the basis of your own familiarity with these pressures. Do you speak Spanish? Have you ever lived for long periods in countries whose indigenous populatons are not herded into trailer parks?

        “The pressure for them to leave their small ranchitos, the weakening of the ejido system under NAFTA, the pressure to leave the canyons to work in factories or to grow crops for narco-traffickers, are the scourge–not education.”

        Again, you make my point for me. Outsiders are decimating their culture and traditional way of life. You may say that they have a choice in that matter, but I would disagree if you did. Reading about how this race has developed over the years (it wasn’t always how it is now – and it appears to be getting worse), I have come to believe that the ultrarunning tourists are as much a negative influence as anything you have stated above. Worse, perhaps, as they don’t even provide a steady income for anyone in return for their invasion.

        “Will you volunteer to conduct their legal defense when their lands are appropriated illegally? To advocate for or provide medical care to people who may not have local options or even know what those options might be?”

        I’m not qualified to do provide either of those services. I will, however, volunteer to leave them alone. Will you? Do you have the necessary immigration status to provide any of those services in Mexico? Again, is your Spanish adequate to efficiently provide those services?

        “Education helps those who live in remote areas and who are underserved by the State to seek solutions to suffering and injustice, as well as to enrich the world with contributions from their own cultures.”

        ¡Pamplinas! Two wrongs don’t make a right. They don’t need Prussian school education, they need to be left alone. Where is your “education” going to take them in the end? As far as I can see, no ultrarunners are being enriched by their culture. All they are doing is importing today’s decadent and corrupt American culture into the canyons. That race has now become a once a year, mini-welfare state. Like all misguided tourism into such areas, it can only end in disaster.

        “Furthermore, on the value of education, you should make yourself aware that, in the canyons, it is geared to the needs of its pupils. Imperfectly, perhaps, but who are you to say these children should not be prepared to understand their world in context of the one that surrounds it?”

        I’m a person who values his freedom of speech. That’s who I am to say whatever I please. I’m also a person who sees no good reason why any Raramuri who lives in the canyons would ever benefit from being “prepared” to understand their world in the context of the cesspit that surrounds it. Why would they want to? How could they ever be expected to? I live in the cesspit world and I can’t understand it. In any event, Prussian school education produces nothing but cannon fodder and wage slaves. Why would you want to inflict that on anyone else?

        “Who are you to say they should be defenseless against the violence and other incursions that outside world might bring on them?”

        I don’t say they should be defenceless, I say they are, and always will be, defenceless against that violence and those incursions. MORE incursions won’t help. Leave them alone. Remain outside while trying to encourage others to leave them alone. Like I do. Like you don’t, but easily could. If you are American and want to help indigenous people, help the ones in your own state.

        “Who are you to decide? Let them decide!”

        Who created the environment where making such a decision is even necessary? And what did they decide? That they would have an ultra and encourage foreign runners to meet them in town once and year, and give them charity? Who decided that? Caballoblanco? The Tourism Department of the Municipalty of Urique? How many Raramuri are on the municipal council? How many Raramuri are on any board that makes such decisions? How many Raramuri are on any CCUM race committee? Who ever consults with the Raramuri leaders before making these kinds of decisions?

        “Clearly you are unfamiliar with their own, time-tested ability to understand their circumstances and to adapt when necessary. That adaptation, that self-defense and indigenous self-interest, can be improved by culturally-appropriate education.”

        Perhaps. I would be surprised if any such “adaptation” produced any better results than it has north of the Rio Grande. As I understand it, upon the Spanish Conquest, the Raramuri migrated deep into the canyons, so not to have to adapt. I believe it would be better if they didn’t have to adapt to anything new now. That could be brought about by their being left alone (as far as possible, now that the rot has already set in). Your individual duty then, would be to leave them alone. That’s all the good YOU can do for them. Apparently, you believe you have a higher calling. It sounds like a misguided Messiah complex to me. I understand that same complex is raining bombs down on the Libyan people as we speak.

        If you must run in ultras in the canyons, tread very lightly, don’t use fancy equipment or clothes, run in their juaraches, aid on water and pinole, convince Caballoblanco that there should be (once again) no entry fee, and no prizes, and definitely no charity handouts. Go in, quietly and respectfully observe and interact, and then leave.

        Above all, don’t advertise the place in hyped running books and articles. What are you shooting for down there, the New York Marathon?

      • I don’t dwell in a reservation.

        I won’t be running in the CCUM any time soon, as long as you maintain its heavy “tourism” footprint, and encourage its charity-based prize structure. Meanwhile, please consider stopping offering material inducements to people to complete the distance. You, of all people, shouldn’t shoot horses.

        Peace to you to, Micah. I hope you never get into a position whereby the Urique authorities take control of the race away from you (and they will, if they haven’t already, if they get a whiff of money or political gain to be had – don’t forget in which country the canyons are located), and you find yourself having to agree with my comments here, and rueing the day you ever began the event.

        My comments don’t apply to your own residence in the canyons. Who wouldn’t want a horse for a neighbour?

    • The race has both positive and negative points but the most important thing is that CCUM is inspiring our Tarahumara friends to return to running, both in Marathon and their traditional races. This year completing runners received “vales” not just corn, that could be used to buy basic food necessities. To several families I know personally, these vales are highly important.

      The Tarahumara are their own people, they come to the race because they want to. As long as they desire to be at the race, who are we to judge.

      Appreciate reading the author’s comments but suspect my experience may exceed his. In the past month alone I helped a Tarahumara lady deliver a baby, was Godfather (along with my wife) at a Tarahumara wedding, became Godfather of a Tarahumara baby, transported their people for medical care, and am working on a student trip for 35 kids.

      Just like us, the Tarahumara are people, plain and simple, they are not something noble and need not be placed on a pedestal. Simply put, they are my friends who share a mutual respect and trust.

      • “The Tarahumara are their own people, they come to the race because they want to. As long as they desire to be at the race, who are we to judge.”

        I don’t judge the Raramuri. I don’t say they aren’t capable and shouldn’t be permitted to make their own choices. I DO, metaphorically, say that nobody should open a MacDonald’s in Urique. Some choices are better left unavailable.

        I appreciate your comments re your local experience, and I admit that it is more extensive than mine (mine being zero), however, it is my view that none of the experiences you list appear, to me, to be relevant to the matter under discussion.

        “Just like us, the Tarahumara are people, plain and simple, they are not something noble and need not be placed on a pedestal. Simply put, they are my friends who share a mutual respect and trust.”

        That seems proper. Do you think a two-day tourist runner will develop the same relationships, and the same level of understanding, forethought and care that you have, immediately upon arriving or prior to arriving? If not, how many “learners” can be accomodated before their incipient errors begin to make their cumulative mark.

        You and Micah are stakeholders in the canyons now. Residents. Who knows what damage you did at the outset, if any, but you’re in now, and people must be free to settle where they wish to settle. However, I don’t understand what that has to do with busloads of weirdly-dressed and equipped, foreign-language speaking runners arriving for a few days a year and tainting the community with such a heavy hand as must be the one that offers a handout.

        Raramuri and other local children in and around Urique will eventually learn to beg from them (if they haven’t already).

    • More and more Raramuri CHOOSE to come over to run the CCUM on neutral turf, every year. We do not impose on them and their settlements tucked into the protective folds of la Sierra Madre and Copper canyon country. Those that want to come, come. Those that do not, do not.
      I see a lot of happy smiling faces. Kuira Ba: Raramuri greeting that literally means “We are all one”
      Bless you UltraRunner.
      You know not what you speak-:]

      • Again, perhaps it would be better if that choice were not made available to them. That is, that no such race (of the type CCUM is fast becoming) is held. It is natural that they would be tempted by the prize money and the free corn for finishing (that last isn’t even normal ultra practice). How many came before such inducements existed? How many come now? How many would come if you cut the inducements to zero again? How many begin the race inadequately prepared for the challenge, but anxious for the corn? Is it fair to tempt them so? Some might see that as inadvertant exploitation. A dog and pony show for the tourists. At the very least, wouldn’t such an inducement provide a bunch of tort lawyers with overtime in the US? If it’s not a reasonable practice in the States, why do it in Mexico? Why not, instead, hold a lottery for the corn among local “qualifying” spectators?

        I don’t say the basic concept of the race is invalid. I don’t say foreigners shouldn’t go into the canyons to experience the Raramuri running culture in situ. I’m just against the circus that it will surely become (if it’s not a circus already).

        Off the top of my head, I’d say a limit should be imposed of 10 foreign runners (no crews or other companions on the trip) per year, perhaps selected on the merits of an entry essay on “Why I want to run with the Raramuri”. I guess that’s not “politically” correct thinking in Urique. Got to keep the bureaucracy oiled.

        I’d be interested to know, however, where you believe this race is heading? My own life experience tells me that it will all end in a power struggle and some very nasty scenes, precipated by greed, for money and political brownie points. Maybe other disasters. You’ll probably have become disgusted with it, and have distanced yourself from it, before that happens though.

        I sincerely hope I’m wrong, and that it all works out well for all concerned, for many years to come.

    • Ultrarunner,

      You are correct that the Raramuri don’t run this kind of a race traditionally. There are those who occasionally travel to the US to run ultra marathons, but the original Raramuri participants in CCUM have chosen not to. While we debate what is best for them, they are quite capable of deciding for themselves what is in their best interests, based in part on their long history of navigating various assaults from other cultures.

      What you really don’t understand is the genesis and purpose of this particular event.

      Raramuri runners had traveled to the US to compete in the Leadville 100 race. There, they were exploited by their handler and were thereafter determined to avoid US races. Instead, Micah True, who met these runners for the first time there in Leadville, decided to bring a few of the best US ultra runners to the Raramuri. Among them was Scott Jurek. The degree of respect and friendship exchanged by all participants in those early CCUM races lives on as a cherished memory for all who were involved, including Raramuri participants.

      It was also a time of drought in the Sierras. Micah bought corn out of his own pocket to share with the Raramuri athletes– for several reasons. One was that the indigenous athletes cannot run and train without sufficient calories, another was that they traditionally run for prizes, often based on community wagers. As you suggest, the indigenous races are run in teams, but Raramuri athletes had shown an interest in racing individual races on an international level. Micah bridged the cultures in a manner that was most relevant and sensitive to Raramuri ways and needs.

      Today, several more international runners participate than in the earliest races, but the number of indigenous runners have multiplied six to eight times over. It is not only desperation for maize (their staple food, and Mexico’s for that matter, is not chicken feed to them) that brings them to Urique each year.

      What ever the intent of some associated local interests might be, the race itself, to the organizers and participants (not to mention the non-profit that purchases the maize) remains one dedicated to friendship, sharing of resources for the health of Raramuri communities, encouraging the continuation of long-distance running among generations of Raramuri, and strong, ethical competition among accomplished athletes and novices alike.

      That spectators and media have turned to the event for excitement (and some for profit) has had an inevitable, if sometimes unfortunate, effect. This should not be confused with the experience and intent of the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.

      One of your criticisms in particular shows sensitivity to Raramuri runners, however–that some run without adequate preparation, pushing themselves in pursuit of the maize awards. In the US, we are all given to understand the potential risks of racing marathon distances and beyond, signing waivers to that effect.

      Even here, it is useful to observe that, like runners in the US, a number of Raramuri drop out of CCUM and number push on to finish, despite its difficulty. You also need to understand, however, that maize won at this race is shared with home communities and is rarely the primary means by which an individual feeds his or her family.

      Over the course of the coming year, as in the past, a small group of supporters will be working to fund and organize additional, traditional races in the canyons. These are not meant for international participation, but for the joy and strengthening of Raramuri culture on its own terms.

      If you would like to contribute to this and learn more about the non-profit that purchases the CCUM maize, that supports local events for Raramuri communities, please visit: http://www.norawas.org In particular, I encourage you to enjoy the pages about the gathering in Cuiteco.

      • “While we debate what is best for them, they are quite capable of deciding for themselves what is in their best interests, based in part on their long history of navigating various assaults from other cultures.”

        So, you would be in favour of legalizing heroin sale, possession and use in the United States, on the grounds that that nation’s citizens are quite capable of deciding for themselves what is in their best interests? Or would there be wider, society-based issues that would have to be first considered, that would perhaps lead to a decision being taken for the population as a whole, in the interests of the societal greater good?

        The choice needn’t have ever been presented to the Raramuri. They would never have organised such a race (with foreign entries, and significant prize money, and inducements to finish, and charity handouts) on their own. As it stands, they have been robbed of their FREE choice, via the offer of much sought after prize money (do you need to be reminded what 35,000 pesos represents to a Raramuri?) and the entirely unethical and anti-race spirit offer of free corn for finishing the distance (Yay! Everyone’s a winner. There are no losers. See George Carlin’s view of that on Youtube). What choice do they have in reality? If I offered you US$1,000,000 to attempt to finish Leadville, would you really have a free choice whether to try or not, or would my offer have somewhat robbed you of your free choice? It’s akin to bribery, or perhaps extortion (depending on where you’re standing). Free choice isn’t a factor in it.

        “What you really don’t understand is the genesis and purpose of this particular event.”

        I understand and have kept myself ABREAST of everything to do with the genesis and development of this particular event (apart from part detailing the Raramuri competeing in the US, which, however, I was aware of by 2000, long before the CCUM was an event. Why do you assume things about me that you have no call to assume. I’ll assume you weren’t around at the beginning, because I didn’t hear about you back then.

        Your history of the race is also somewhat lacking and erroneous. This “Instead, Micah True, who met these runners for the first time there in Leadville, decided to bring a few of the best US ultra runners to the Raramuri. Among them was Scott Jurek.” does not accurately reflect how the race was conceived and developed. That’s not how things unfolded at all. Perhaps you should let Micah deal with the historical accounts.

        “The degree of respect and friendship exchanged by all participants in those early CCUM races lives on as a cherished memory for all who were involved, including Raramuri participants.”

        Scott Jurek wasn’t there in the “early years”. He was too busy winning WS. Nobody was there. Just a horse.

        “As you suggest, the indigenous races are run in teams, but Raramuri athletes had shown an interest in racing individual races on an international level.”

        That’s wholy irrelevant. The Raramuri who “had shown an interest” were just the first to be bribed by whatever they were bribed with. They should have been left alone. Knowing the history of their venture into US ultrarunning, don’t you agree?

        “Micah bridged the cultures in a manner that was most relevant and sensitive to Raramuri ways and needs.”

        I’m sure Micah bridged the cultures in his own individual case, but no “culture bridge” could ever be said to be “relevant and sensitive to Raramuri needs”. What they need is to be left alone, and for outsiders to stop exploiting and abusing them (not that I think Micah is exploiting or abusing them).

        “Today, several more international runners participate than in the earliest races, but the number of indigenous runners have multiplied six to eight times over. It is not only desperation for maize (their staple food, and Mexico’s for that matter, is not chicken feed to them) that brings them to Urique each year.”

        Why would you presume to know their motives? Anyway, it seems patently obvious that it IS their need and desire for money and corn that brings more and more Raramuri to the race each year. It seems reasonable to suggest that if the inducements were curtailed, the numbers of Raramuri participants would drop considerably. It’s simple economics. You get paid for working, right? If they stopped paying you, would you still show up? Please, spare us the moist-eyed buy-the-world-a-Coke schpiel. Those indigenous people, and most local non-indigenous people who run, are running for money and/or corn. They’re being paid to run 50+ miles.

        “That spectators and media have turned to the event for excitement (and some for profit) has had an inevitable, if sometimes unfortunate, effect. This should not be confused with the experience and intent of the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.”

        I’m not confusing that with the event; it is part of the event. It doesn’t matter what the intent of the event is, it WILL negatively impact upon the social and cultural fabric of the Raramuri people (and te town of Urique, for that matter). No amount of hippy Cum-ba-yaing will stop that. It will also become a circus (if it hasn’t already). Strife and bad feeling and, perhaps, an outpouring of racism, will result. Just as it did at Leadville and Western States.

        “One of your criticisms in particular shows sensitivity to Raramuri runners, however–that some run without adequate preparation, pushing themselves in pursuit of the maize awards. In the US, we are all given to understand the potential risks of racing marathon distances and beyond, signing waivers to that effect.”

        Is there any US ultra where entrants receive material inducements to finish the distance? Is it not true that American tort lawyers would have a field day over the offer of such inducements, should they ever be made available, signed waivers or no signed waivers? Why then should they be made available in Mexico, to people with little recourse to the law? How does the event benefit by offering such inducements? More to the point, what do the people or groups who provide the corn get out of it? Why are you attempting to present a mealy-mouthed defence for such a practice?

        “Over the course of the coming year, as in the past, a small group of supporters will be working to fund and organize additional, traditional races in the canyons. These are not meant for international participation, but for the joy and strengthening of Raramuri culture on its own terms.”

        Where do these “supporters” originally come from? Are you one of them? If so, will your irresponsible interference know no bounds? How can “supporters” fund a traditional race. A traditional race in the canyons is “funded” by the competitors themselves.

        “If you would like to contribute to this and learn more about the non-profit that purchases the CCUM maize…”

        Have you understood a word I’ve written here? Or are you being deliberately obtuse?

        Please, if you have any decency and respect for these people, just leave them alone. American and Western fixing, from right or left, has only ever brought pain and suffering to indigenous and developing populations.

        “The chief cause of problems is solutions” Eric Sevareid.

      • No. I probably don’t understand the people, their lives or their needs very well. I probably don’t know much about any of this. I’ve only been there twice and long-distance attempts to understand through reading and discussions with those more knowledgeable are no replacement for authentic experience and deep knowledge. In these and all matters indigenous, I give over to those in whose hands the words, acts and decisions should remain.

  6. Congratulations Ravi! Now you can be my guide next year! This seems like good training for IronMan Coeur D’Alene … is that your next adventure?

    • Yeah – I am signed up for IMCDA…but right now I am more wanting to sit on the couch and do yoga….not run or ride! We’ll see if motivation returns by the weekend….

  7. I’m glad I found your blog, this was truly inspiring to read. I an’t believe those people had a 50k hike home after the ultra-marathon.

  8. Hey Ravi, Great report and great job on your first 50! I had a blast hanging out with you on this adventure. I’m sure I’ll see you around.

  9. Ravi, It was an honor sharing this magical celebration with you! Sending you warrior prayers always filled with beauty, peace and love. See you next year! La Mariposa Apache, MAS LOCA!

  10. Congratulations on finishing! Great report. I was bummed that I couldn’t go. I’m excited for next year though!

  11. This was so amazing to read! Wow–what an adventure. I can’t believe some of the footwear…thanks for sharing this.

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