Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon

March 6, 2005

Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon--Urique Canyon--40 miles on rough, very hilly dirt road and trail.

Sunday--March 6, 2005

This was just another beautiful day in the deep canyon country of La Sierra Madre. The Wednesday before the race, as usual here in the land of uncertainty, where nothing is certain but beauty, the sponsor and race director did not know what to expect. Having no expectations, I left my house in the deep canyon town of Batopilas to walk about 30 miles up and over to the start of the race in the other deep canyon town of Urique. After arriving at the village of Cerro Colorado, 7 miles up-river, I was met and joined by 9 traditional Raramuri-- Tarahumara runners. We began our 4,000 foot climb out of the Batopilas canyon, and after a couple of miles of climbing, the Raramuri said that Arnulfo was coming, looking back to see a figure in the distance below, running up the canyon towards us, catching up to us a mile or so later. We now had 11 runners walking over to the race in the Urique canyon. We arrived in the town of Urique 10 hours later, where we were treated with respect, like the champions that the Raramuri are.

We took 3 spacious rooms at the nicest hotel in Urique, and were fed many delicious meals by a favorite grandma cook named Tita, who owns the Plaza restaurant. We met the two gringa and gringo runners from Hawaii and California, who had come down to run with us, sharing meals and cerveza before walking the 2 big loops of the course to become familiar with what we would be running on race Sunday.

Sunday morning arrived with the cantando--singing of many roosters.  All of the small town of Urique was at the 7 am start, to participate and spectate the 2 loops through town before the finish of the race ending the 3rd loop. Gracias Urique! 7 Tarahumara runners from La Sierra of the Urique canyon showed up to compete against the renoun traditional Raramuri from Batopilas canyon. Another Mexican runner, a physical education teacher, showed up to run.

The race began in the Plaza, running up river to the Tarahumara village of Guadalupe Coronado, looping back and diverting on single track trail up and back down the side canyon arroyo Mescalera before completing the first 18 mile loop in Urique, then running down river for 10 km, turning back to town at the 30 mile point before running up river to Guadalupe Coronado again, and looping back on some long, death hills, back to the finish in Urique, where the whole town was on the streets applauding and cheering.

This was a very difficult run, being made even more difficult by the fast pace set from the beginning, when a pack of runners went out with, challenging the great Tarahumara runner, Arnulfo Quimare, who pulled away after the second loop, leaving many runners completely trashed. At the awards presentation in the plaza of Urique, it was clear to all involved, spectators and runners, that we are all winners, all of us. May the Tarahumara and all of us continue to run free.

The results: 21 starters--13 finishers

1--Arnulfo Quimare 25-- Munerachi--Batopilas canyon 5:11
2--Felipe Quimare 19-- Chinivo----Batopilas canyon 5:37
3--Isidro Lechuga 34-- San Jose Pinal--Urique canyon 5:52
4--Manuel Luna 40-- Gavilana--Batopilas canyon 6:05
5--Herbalisto 49-- Chinivo--Batopilas canyon 6:17
6--Victoe Cinega 29-- San Jose Pinal--Urique canyon 6:22
7--Sebastiano 36-- Munerachi--Batopilas canyon 6:29
8--Manuel Medilla 30-- Piedra Verde--Urique canyon 6:41
9--Porfilio 30-- Munerachi--Batopilas canyon 6:57
10 Caballo Blanco 51-- Batopilas/Colorado 7:06
11 Manuel 35 Chinivo--Batopilas canyon 7 7:06
12 Jennifer Bertner 34-- Hawaii 8:35
12 Jay Keith 44! -- Californis 8:35