In search of Caballo Blanco

Posted on May 14, 2009 by

Christopher McDougall had me hooked from the opening lines of his new book, “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.”

“For days, I’d been searching Mexico’s Sierra Madre for the phantom known as Caballo Blanco — the White Horse. I’d finally arrived at the end of the trail, in the last place I expected to find him — not deep in the wilderness he was said to haunt, but in the dim lobby of an old hotel on the edge of a dusty desert town.”

Caballo Blanco, as many locals know, is Micah True (or is that even his real name, McDougall asks), one of the original Boulder trail runners who for the past decade has divided his time between the mountains west of town and the deep, mysterious spaces of Mexico’s Copper Canyons, where he built a home.

Each spring, True selflessly sponsors an ultra-running race for the Tarahumara (a Spanish word; they call themselves the Raramuri) who live in the Copper Canyons, handing out thousands of pounds of corn and cash prizes while promoting the traditional Tarahumara way of life, which includes long-distance running.

True eschews publicity, but over the years his Copper Canyons race has become known in the international ultra community, and a small number of gringos find their way down to it each year. One of those was McDougall, who turned his experience into articles for several national magazines and now his new book.

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