The Infinite Race was directed by Bernardo Ruiz and features American Trail Running Association advisory board member, race director and photographer Luis Escobar. About the film Escobar says, “The Infinite Race is a visually stunning film that accurately describes the ancient and current challenges of Tarahumara life. This film continues where the book Born To Run ends.”
An ultramarathon is defined as any race longer than 26.2 miles. But, of course, with anything that extreme, such a measurement can only be understood as the start of the story.
Ultrarunning has exploded in popularity over the past decade, in large part because of the phenomenon of the book Born to Run, which chronicles the tale of the Tarahumara, an indigenous community in Mexico who refer to themselves as the Rarámuri, famed for their legendary running ability, and their preference for running barefoot. In the aftermath of the book, international runners were inspired to descend upon Urique, a town in the basin of the Chihuahua’s rugged Sierra Tarahumara canyons, which subsequently became the site of a “bucket list” race for ultramarathoners. Soon, people all over the world were wearing barefoot-style shoes. Millions and millions of dollars were made – everyone profiting, it seems, except the Tarahumara.
In The Infinite Race, director Bernardo Ruiz explores what’s happened to the tribe that inspired so much of the ultra-racing craze. While the world has been running in their symbolic footsteps, the Tarahumara has continued to face existential threats from organized crime and drug cartels, forcing them from their homes and breaking apart their communities. Victims have been kidnapped and murdered, and local farms have been taken over to plant marijuana or poppy.
In 2015 in Urique, the Ultra Marathon Caballo Blanco, the race named after Micah “Caballo Blanco” True, an eccentric American runner portrayed in Born to Run, was marred by violence related to organized crime. With many Americans in attendance, a gun-battle broke out. People were killed – and the race organizers were faced with a choice: keep running or shut the race down.
What ensued was a confusing, controversial series of events that lay bare how outsiders, many well-intentioned, impact a community in unexpected ways and the starkly different ways people can view events based on the economic, political, and cultural realities they inhabit.
Watch the premiere of @30for30 “The Infinite Race” on Dec 15 at 8 PM Eastern Time on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.