Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meeting Caballo Blanco (from Born To Run)

About ~100 people were welcomed to the home of Mike Nutall last Saturday, where Kati Bell hosted a talk by Caballo Blanco, the now-legendary gringo who befriended the Tarahumara running tribe in Mexico in a story eloquently captured in the best-selling book by Chris McDougall, Born To Run (review).

(Caballo Blanco with host, Mike Nutall)

It was great to get a chance to meet Caballo Blanco (aka "Micah") up close, and hear him talk about the Tarahumara people. The first hand accounts were incredible, and gave a unique window into this indigenous tribe of super-runners that are likely the most content people on the planet. The Copper Canyon Ultramarathon that Micah directs now attracts 200+ Tarahumara and a record 60 gringos slated for 2010, and how the non-profit Norawas de Ramamuri ("friends of the running people") is designed to raise money, corn (for prizes), and awareness for the events that the Tarahumara frequent. Micah's casual and welcoming charisma made it easy for all of us to connect to his mission.

(Micah shares his stories of the Tarahumara)

Questions from the audience ranged from "do the children of the Tarahumara cherish the traditional ways?" (he said teenagers are teenagers in every culture, displayed by rebellious acts such wearing jeans instead of the traditional garb) to "what shoes do you wear" (as little as possible). It was all engaging and he had our complete attention. Mike Nutall was also quite eloquent in drawing the parallels of our daily passion, and this amazing tribe that shares the our ability to use running to fill our souls.

(The Tarahumara, photo courtesy of Luis Escobar)

(Scott Jurek runs with the Tarahumara in 2006, photo courtesy of Luis Escobar)

Although this was a fundraiser, Micah was sure to point out that the Tarahumara didn't "need" anything since their multi-thousand year old culture was based on sharing what you had, when you had it, and living a simple life of tranquility. But I got the impression that a donation to the Norawas de Raramuri could have a significant impact on this culture ($5 is enough to cover all expenses for a Raramuri runner to attend the Copper Canyon, where corn is dished out by the ton for prizes). I was happy to contribute and instantly felt I had done something very special.

(Micah shares a laugh with Jean Pommier)

Want to catch Caballo Blanco yourself? He will be at ZombieRunner in Palo Alto, CA, on 10/23. If you can make it, I would highly recommend it. If not, please do consider making a contribution to the Norawas de Rarmuri. It will make you feel connected to an amazing group! Check out Luis Escobar's page for pictures from his amazing trips in 2005/06.

My thanks to Kati, Mike, and Micah for a great night!

- SD


  1. Truth is Beauty
    Beauty is Truth
    That is all we really know in life
    And all we need to know.
    May the Raramuri and all of us
    Continue to Run Free.

    ___keats and Caballo BLanco-:]

  2. The horse has shaven off his mane! I did not recognize Caballo in these photos. You are right, you do feel connected to a very special group of runners, we are all one big tribe who like to run in amazing places.

    Cheers, Paul

  3. Got the pleasure of meeting Caballo and McDougall last week as well. Both genuine guys. Enjoyed their visit immensely.

  4. Do you think the Zombie Runner event is going to be as crazy crowded as I do?

  5. Did you all go barefoot running afterwards?

  6. I had the pleasure of hearing Caballo speak this week in Seattle. I enjoyed it very much. It was generous of you to match the contributions.

  7. I find this fascinating. Running enabled the human race to survive. I walked, then I ran. I ran because it was the natural progression from walking. I have never competed, I may never. I have never thought of running as an achievement, it is my chosen method of transport. I meet friends often for coffee - I run to meet them, then I run home - 20 miles or so. Running is simply a part of life. Mr caballo, you sound a very fine man. I am GT and one day I will come to the Copper Canyon's.

  8. I met Caballo at Whole Foods earlier this year and had know idea who I was talking to until I read Born to Run. Cool!


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