Ultra Caballo Blanco : a Tribute to Micah True

01 Nov 2012 11:00
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview

§staticmap(8786,4,450,250)Hello, on March 3rd 2013, you’ll be organizing the Ultra Caballo Blanco. Can you tell us where it is located?

Ultra Caballo Blanco, also known as the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon, is located at the bottom of the Copper Canyons, in a small village named Urique. For those who have read the best-seller Born to Run (written by Christopher McDougall), you may be very familiar with the story of the race and the importance of its location.

The Copper Canyons are more vast than the Grand Canyon and are the home of the Tarahumara (also known as Raramuri) tribe of endurance runners.

How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

This will be the 11th year for the race. In the beginning it was only Micah True, known as Caballo Blanco to the Raramuri runners, and the local tribesmen. Now the race has expanded to a large growing international following.

The race was created by Micah True to support the Raramuri tradition of running. He held the race to encourage them to compete to win corn for feeding their families. The race has now become one of their traditions.

Credit : Ultra Caballo Blanco
What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The first few years the course was originally set as a Canyon to Canyon crossing. It took place on 95% brutal single-track canyon trail. This was changed by Micah in 2006 to accommodate the changing aspect of the race.

The course is now made up of several loops in and out of the village of Urique on a very hilly combination of single-track and dirt trails. This course was designed to bring the runners through the village several times to give spectators some participation.

The course is beautiful, running through traditional villages, through narrow canyon passes, and long winding climbs and steep single-track descents.

How many runners do you expect on Sunday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

The 2013 event will have about 700 runners total participating. This is a mix of 300 international runners, 300 Raramuri locals and 100 Mexican nationals.

The race will be larger because of the Memorial aspect of the event. It is a tribute to Micah’s legacy.

Credit : Ultra Caballo Blanco
Do you organize other races during the Weekend? If so, on what distances?

We will be organizing the 1st Annual Corrida de los Caballitos on the Saturday before the race. This is a kids 2K fun run where all of the children participate and win a set of donated school supplies.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

The weather in the canyon will be in the 90’s and up. Expect a dry desert environment.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

Yes, the entire weekend is a long party for the locals and all involved. Along with the kid run, the town puts on a cultural presentation with music and dancing. We also have a lot of pre-race activities with course hikes, village
tours, traditional sweat lodge rituals etc.

Credit : Ultra Caballo Blanco
The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Urique before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

Getting into Urique is breathtaking, anywhere you go and anything you do is an amazing experience. Some recommended places are the waterfall above in Cerocahui, the town of Divisadero, the el Chepe train ride. There is so much to do and so much to see!

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Ultra Caballo Blanco?

Whether you have read Born to Run and want to follow in the footsteps of Micah True, are intrigued with the Raramuri culture or simply want an incredible ultra to run, this is the race for you!

Because of the travel aspect of the event, all of the runners come out of this race as friends for life. The cultural and personal experience is phenomenal. People coming together for a good cause, a simple cause!

Interview with Josue Stephens ultramarathon runner and race director. Micah True, the founder of the Ultra Caballo Blanco (Copper Canyon) was the beginning inspiration for his ultrarunning journey. They became friends in 2007 and with his inspiration; Josue began the Fuego y Agua Ultras in Nicaragua. When he heard of Micah’s death in New Mexico last spring, he was devastated. He knew he wanted to do something, and decided that continuing Micah’s journey in the Canyons was the contribution he could make.