Ultramaratón Caballo Blanco, or The Whitehorse, was founded by American ultra-runner Micah True in 2003. After spending several months a year trail-running in Central America in the 80s and 90s, this sports enthusiast decided to organize a race for the Raramuri people of Mexico to help them preserve their running tradition and inspire other running fanatics to run free with the Raramuri in the beautiful Copper Canyon. Although the turnout for the first race was modest, the event turned into a popular annual tradition after Micah was featured as the main character in the Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book, Born to Run. Although he was uncomfortable with his newfound fame, he used it to attract attention, find sponsors and raise funds for the Ultramaratón Caballo Blanco.

13 years on, the race now attracts hundreds of participants each year. Most are local Raramuri, otherwise known as Tarahumara, but other leading long-distance runners from all over the world also take part. While overseas runners prepare for months in advance and carry backpacks filled with supplements, nutrition bars and other fancy equipment, local runners often run in sandals and simply fuel up with water and bananas provided at aid stations during the race. The 50-mile long race starts and finishes in the town of Urique, Chihuahua, and sends runners across hilly, rocky dirt roads and single track trail in the sweltering heat. As if that wasn’t demanding enough, runners face some killer hills during a climb of approximately 9,300 feet with equal descent. In addition to prize money for the top ten finishers, the race also encourages the nutritional sustenance of local, economically struggling communities; participating Raramuri are rewarded with vouchers for maize, beans, rice, flour and seed corn for completing each loop. The race represents a rare and much-needed economic opportunity for the poverty-stricken communities to earn a bit of money. Micah passed away in 2012 while on a run in New Mexico. Although he is gone, his passion and enthusiasm to preserve the native running tradition lives on through the Caballo Blanco. Look out for Maria Walton, Micah’s partner, in the episode on the Raramuri ultra runners.
Jul 8, 2016
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