Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From the Horse’s Mouth – An Interview With Caballo Blanco

Portrayed as an evasive ghost and the lone wanderer of Mexico’s Copper Canyons, Caballo Blanco, AKA Micah True, is a rather busy man. Between touring the world to spread awareness about the Tarahumara (Raramuri, “The lightfooted ones”, is their real name) and organizing his now-famous Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, he remains deeply committed to his way of life and has a very contagious love for the sport, his people and the place he calls home.

Away from Urique in a recent trip to the city of Creel, where he manages the purchase of the maize vouchers distributed to runners who finish the 51-mile race, he took some time to answer FlintLand’s questions. We humbly bring them to you as-is, unaltered… straight from The Horse’s Mouth.

FL - The Born to Run fame has had many effects on your life, first by putting you under the spotlight, then by bringing awareness to the Raramuri and their struggle. You seem to be able to reconcile both, and you’ve been very busy this year traveling the world and giving talks. What is the message you carry?

CB – “Run for peace”. I don't really use words like "struggle" or "plight" in regards to the Raramuri. WE are all [humans] on the same earth and it’s up to all of us to honor and take care of her.

FL - As the creator and race director of the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon (CCUM), your prime objective is to rekindle and celebrate the running culture of the Raramuri. Did the race have an influence on that culture? Do you see concrete results of your actions?

CB - More Raramuri are running again. The people are gaining both materially and in deeper ways because they are re-realizing a running tradition [although our race is free-style trail running and not the traditional ball race... ] But, they are running. And they are running more rarajipares [ball races] as well. And they have the nutritional means now to do so.

FL - You are very protective of the Raramuri culture, both in your talks and in organizing the CCUM. Do you think the culture is at risk? Have there been negative impacts from the outside world?

CB - WE are ALL at risk -:} Every action causes reactions. I am a little guarded, realizing that all change is imminent and all people must adapt. The Raramuri are very progressive and adaptable, even in their traditional ways. They are kind of a running contradiction. Traditional and progressive simultaneously. Proud and humble at the same time.

FL - You bring a lot of relief in the Copper Canyons through a non-profit organization called Norawas de Raramuri (Friends of the Raramuri). What is the vision of that organization and how does it help the people?

CB - To help encourage and enable the people to help themselves to continue to run Free! To take pride in being who they are and know that they are respected and looked upon as positive examples. The Raramuri are bringing "relief" onto themselves, and us, through inspiration. Yes, the economy of the region has improved greatly in large part because of our race event.... It has planted a seed of hope.

FL - You have mentioned that the harvests this year have been very small due to a drought in the Canyons and that the Raramuri need help to secure basic food staples and supplies. How much is needed?

CB - I don't know. NOTHING is needed as the Raramuri will make do as they always have; they will survive as always… ANYTHING is appreciated. This season’s running projects will bring over 1,500 costales [250 kg sacks] - 75 tons of maize [the food value in vouchers to be redeemed at community markets to purchase what they want/need]… and substantial cash to the top 10 men and women, many of whom will be Raramuri. That windfall of nourishment will assist the people considerably and boost the economy of the whole region, for Mexicans and Raramuri alike.

FL - How can our readers support you in your efforts?

CB - Run with us -:} is the best… or make a donation directly to the Raramuri [no overhead or salaries to board members--ALL volunteer, including expenses] to the non-for-profit organization Norawas de Raramuri. Tax deductible in the USA… Karma deductible elsewhere -:}

FL - You have mentioned several times that there are companies and organizations out there using the name or the image of the Raramuri and not giving back to the community. Are you on to them? Do you plan to expose them and try to make them change their ways?

CB – That’s the way of the world… No; I am not going to "expose" them nor get anybody to change there ways. Set an example; and maybe some of them will pick it up and do the same [set examples]. We all have our freedom of choices and actions.

FL - You have taken some distance from Born to Run’s contents, and now there’s a movie underway. It seems like the book and the upcoming movie have motivated you to start writing your own story, “From The Horse’s Mouth”. Can you tell us more about it? What will your book be about?

CB - Born To Run was/is a very good book/story.

"Born To Run Free: True Trails From The Horse's Mouth".
I have written a story based on living experiences previous to the book. The book just gives it more content and experiences to draw on… It also has provided me a certain voice. It is up to me to use that voice and whatever notoriety I have acquired from the book to use in good ways. It is up to me... No Mas.

FL - The Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon 2012 is fast approaching. You recently announced that up to 60 runners from many countries will participate this year. In the future, do you think the race will remain an event of exception or will it eventually hit the mainstream?

CB - 75 international runners and I don't know, maybe 50 Mexico nationals and a couple hundred Raramuri. I don't know if it will hit the mainstream. Depends on how you define mainstream -:] Kind of already has.

FL - What do you envision for the CCUM in the future?

CB - I don't know. WE will see.

Run Free!

Caballo Blanco

Following Caballo’s suggestion, I will be joining him and the other runners, the Mas Locos, for a celebration of peace on March 4, 2012. If you are an avid Run Smiley / FlintLand reader and can spare a couple dollars, please make a donation to support the organization Norawas de Raramuri. Even better, pack your bag and travel down to the Copper Canyons and join the celebration!


  1. Awesome interview! Thank you to Flint and Caballo. I can't wait for the book!

    -Trisha R

  2. I agree. Awesome interview. Thank you so much for sharing it.