Report: Copper Canyon to Canyon Trail Marathon+ Batopilas to Urique.

The Meeting: Thursday, November 20

On the Wednesday before the Race, the sponsor and race director, Caballo Blanco, did not know what to expect; I had no expectations. I knew that there would be one other Colorado runner coming, Mega Mel Downs, from Woodland Park.
I walked over La Sierra Madre from start to finish to meet the runner, Mega Mel. This hike took 10 hours. The race meeting was to be held at a noon lunch at the ¨Plaza restaurant, followed by the mandatory two day practice hike over from the finish in Urique, to the start of the run in Batopilas, the 1st day´s hike being a 9 miler to the lovely rancho Los Alisos, where we would camp before beginning the tough 3,000 foot climb in a couple of miles to the rim of the Urique canyon, and continue a slower/easy hike 5 1/2 miles on beautiful single-track, over la sierra, then down into the Batopilas canyon, rolling along the river¨the last 7 miles into Batopilas. This hike was so that any non-local participants would be more familiar with this unmarked trail and to see first hand {or foot}, exactly what they would be dealing with on race day. Mega Mel had his GPS out to track the course. The GPS measured the course at 27 miles.
We rested 2 nights, visiting the lovely, historical deep canyon town of Batopilas, where Mel stayed at a very nice hotel called ¨Real de los minas¨. A couple of years previous, I had built a little rock and adobe house on a hillside over-looking the Batopilas river and old mining hacienda.

Any Tarahumara runners {Raramuri}, were to meet at my house to register at 5 o´clock on Saturday afternoon. At 5 o´clock they came, walking to my house from their ranchos tucked into the hidden folds of La Sierra Madre´s deep canyon country. We all hung out at my house until walking to Clarita´s for a healthy dinner. Mel, The Raramuri and I, enjoyed eating, laughing, drinking beer and having some wonderful cultural interaction; there was no segregation of any kind.

The Race:

After breakfast at Clarita´s, 5 Tarahumara and 2 gringo runners lined up at the start under the hillside casa de Caballo Blanco {my house}. Caballo Blanco set a brisk pace for the first 3 miles, knowing that the Tarahumara start fast, then stay fast!
At 3 miles, I stepped aside on the trail and said ¨andale huevones¨. This translates roughly as ¨get moving lazy ones¨. The Raramuri answered the challenge by blowing by me on the next hill. This was the last I saw of the first 5 finishers until arriving in Urique 6+ hours later.

The Finish:

Caballo Blanco was on a roll. He was on a steady personal record pace throughout the run, never coming close to ´bonking´. The killer 3,000 foot descent to the main aid station at Los Alisos was a body beater for all of us. Fortunately, at Los Alisos, lives the family of Prospero Torres, who was waiting for us with much appreciated aid of burritos, PINOLE, grapefruit and water before the last 9 mile critical stretch of trail running then crossing the river, then running the last few miles on dirt road into the old town of Urique.

Upon entering Urique, all had an escort vehicle for the last couple of hundred meters, and the small-town´s people were on the streets in front of their homes, applauding and welcoming the finishers, both the legendary Raramuri and Caballo Blanco.
Mega Mel showed up with a happy grin a few hours later, and the Raramuri were there at the finish to greet and congratulate him.
Their was an awards ceremony at the ¨plaza restaurant¨,where, the Raramuri all were presented their cash prizes. All stayed at a deluxe hotel called Ëstrella Del Rio¨{star of the river}, and ate some mighty fine meals while in Urique, being treated with respect like the champions that they are. The times for this run were very good considering the extra gnarly conditions of the trail due to erosion from extreme climatic changes of drought followed by monsoon rains. While all other times were at least 30 minutes slower then the last race in reverse direction, the gringo raramuri, Caballo Blanco, broke his bkni {best known non-indian} record of 6:41, lowering this time to 6:35.

The next run in reverse direction {Urique to Batopilas will be March 7. see caballoblanco.com

The runners, Tarahumara and all towns-people, could clearly see that we are all winners, all of us. In these times of world strife and conflict, may the Tarahumara and all of us continue to run free.
Micah Caballo Blanco

The Results:
1} Manuel Luna {39} 5:20 Gavilana
2} Martin {18} 5:25 Chinivo
3} Herbalisto {46} 5:49 Chinivo
4} Florencio {20} 5:50 acorare
5} Maurilio {29} 5:51 acorare
6} Caballo Blanco {50} 6:35 Colorado/Batopilas
7} Mega Mel Downs{61} 9:59 Colorado

For another runner´s report: megamel@megamel.com

www.caballoblanco.com
micah@caballoblanco.com