Report: Copper Canyon to Canyon Trail Marathon+. Sunday, March 21.

The third running of the bi-annual Copper Canyon to Canyon Trail Marathon+, took place this hot first day of spring. This run was to take place from one deep canyon town of Urique, to the other deep canyon town of Batopilas. The distance is 27-29 miles of rock, steep climb and descent, some dirt road along two rivers, crossing of pine forests on soft single track trail at 6,000 feet, about 13,000 feet of climb and descent, more rocks, and plenty of other pluses! This season´s run was plus 100 degree heat!

7 Raramuri {Tarahumara runners}, displayed incredible performances of what can only be described as world class athleticism to arrive at the finish in 5 hours and some change. One could not imagine the significance of this achievement without having been here and having hiked these trails.

The Walk Over: As usual, here in the land of manana, I did not know what to expect. I had no expectations as I left my house in the deep canyon town of Batopilas to walk over to the start of the race in the deep canyon town of Urique.  One runner had showed up at my house the night before, and I had cooked us dinner and threw him a futon and blanket to sleep. When we arrived at the village of Cerro Colorado, 7+ miles up-river, we were joined by another 6 very good traditional Tarahumara runners from 5 different remote settlements. There were 8 of us climbing 4,000 feet out of the Batopilas canyon, crossing about 5 miles of la sierra {the mountains}, taking our time to rest in the cool pine forests, drink from the springs, and interact like life´s participants that we are.

Throughout this hike, the Raramuri were chattering away. I did not understand all of what was said, as most of the conversation was in the native Tarahumara language. However, a language that I do understand, is laughter; and there was plenty of this, as they spoke of how tough this race was, and spoke of the arrogant Apache from Northern Mexico, who had said that he was going to win it all. This Apache was named Ramon Chingon, and the question was, Quien es mas chingon que Ramon?

We camped at Los Alisos, a rancho located in a lush fruit and water filled arroyo, at about the 20 mile mark in this direction, and about the 9 mile mark of the Sunday race.

The next morning, we all walked down to the river, crossed to the dirt road and walked along the road 5 miles into the town of Urique, where all eyes along the way were fixed on the renown traditionally clad Tarahumara runners.

While in Urique, we were all treated like the champions that they are. We ate 3 large, tasty meals and took a couple of rooms at the nicest hotel in Urique.

The word was that Ramon Chingon, being the chingon that he is, was held up in a hotel room with 5 women and and an equal amount of bottles of tequila, partying hardy.

Race Sunday: The Race

We ate breakfast at Tita´s Plaza Restaurant, then lined up at the start in front of the town plaza. 5 local Mexicans showed up, claiming to be members of team Chingon. They all had big beer guts and lasted about 30 meters.

The Tarahumara and I went out at a 6 minute mile pace. This was too fast for me! I watched them disappear after that first mile. I saw only their huarache sandal tracks throughout this run until the finish at My friend Mario´s tienda in Batopilas. For me, I ran the first 9 miles faster then ever, climbed the 3,000 feet in 2 miles to the rim in personal record time, then set out for the cool and undulating trail across the mountains.

The rocky 4,000 foot descent was tough as always, and even tougher as I descended into near 100 degree heat to the Batopilas river, where it was a 7 mile run into Batopilas. This was the most runnable, fastest section of the course, where the Raramuri would really open up and the race would begin. They all had arrived at the river together.

It was on this home stretch where the cagey veteran, Manuel Luna, would string the others along before putting the hammer down to win by 3 minutes over yet another up-coming 18 year old speedy challenger. For the third time, the crafty 39 year old veteran would win this race, his second victory in this direction.

In all of the state of Chihuahua, this was election day. I had taken a pledge of $200 from the out-going presidente of Batopilas to pay the prize for the winner. The in-coming presidente had pledged 500 kilos of corn to be split among the 7 Tarahumara runners. This korima {gift, sharing} was to be waiting at the finish.

I was on my non-Indian record pace upon arrival at Cerro Colorado along the Batopilas river, though feeling well abused, happily hiking this most runnable section of the course into Batopilas, and sprinting to the finish where I had my race director/sponsor duties to attend to.

My friends Mario and Nena were at the finish to record the times and places, along with all the runners who had been waiting, drinking cold soda.  Nobody else came.

There was no presidente at the finish to present the $200 first prize. There were none of the ten 50 kilo sacks of maiz {corn}. Like Ramon Chingon, no show.

On this election day, 7 incredible athletes, and their friend, had run a very tough trail marathon plus, to arrive in Batopilas to vote for whoever they thought
would care the most about them. This appeared to be no-one.

We all walked to a restaurant in the plaza that had pledged a big meal of fresh killed beef. I was craving some fresh killed tofu myself, but knew that the runners would like the beef.  They were all too hot and tired to eat, taking there beef in bags to go.

The town of Batopilas was in a disorganized chaos, many Of the Tarahumara people had walked in to participate in the voting process as there was not enough ballots in the rural districts. There were also no ballots remaining in Batopilas for the indigenous voters; no hay processo!

We had our own little awards presentation on the porch at Mario´s. The runners were presented $700 in cash prizes, then caught a ride to Cerro Colorado, where they would only have 4-7 miles, and only another 3,000 feet verticle for Manuel, to walk home to their various ranchos. I offered to buy them a hotel room, but all wanted to get out of the chaos of Batopilas and return to their homes in the land of the Tarahumara.

Would it not be cool if we could hire these guys as guides, paying them well to take long easy runs with us and show us around?

This morning, Tuesday, March 23; I walked into the town plaza where I presented the results of the race to the out-going and in-coming presidentes, reminding them that we had a race. They seemed genuinly interested, both vowing to make good on their pledges, ahora {now}.

May all of us run free.

Micah True {Caballo Blanco}

RESULTS:

1- Manuel Luna  39  Gavilana  5.01
2- Lorenzio     18  Ocorare   5.04
3- Ignacio Palma-39  Kirare   5.14
4- Sebastiano    34  Munerachi 5.20
5- Herbalisto    47  Chinivo  5.32
6- Maurilio      28  Ocorare  5.40
7- Porfilio      28  Munerachi 5.42
8- CaballoBlanco 51 Batopilas  7.05
                    Colorado
9- Ramon Chingon ? Apache de norte--NO SHOW!

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micah@caballoblanco.com