On Wednesday they began to come, 5 international runners and el Caballo Blanco hiking 18 tough miles, from the Rancho Del Oso, located in a juniper, oak and pine covered valley above and between the rim of the Urique canyon and the train station. We hiked out of the valley 1,300 feet in about 6 miles, then down...down...down 5,000 feet on some wider trail, single-track and almost no track, very rocky in places, to arrive at the start of the race in the deep canyon pueblo of Urique. There we encountered 45 Raramuri - Tarahumara runners - that had hiked over the mountains from their homes in the Batopilas canyon, calmly sitting and waiting, practicing "The Tarahumara stretch", which consists of lying around, doing nothing, totally relaxed.
There was live music performed by Tarahumara professional musicians at the Saturday evening fiesta. For the presentation of runner's tank-top race jerseys with numbers, we had over 200 participants, 8 from the United States, a French-man named Erwan Le Corre, and Hiroki - el Dragon de Japon. Most of the over 200 entered were Tarahumara, from all parts of La Sierra Madre, representing all of the four municipales [counties] that make up the Copper Canyon region of Chihuahua, Mexico.
Sunday morning was announced by the many roosters crowing. The RD, Caballo Blanco, did not have to worry about awaking on time, because he had not slept - all week! He would sleep when it was over. It was a beautiful race/run in which everybody involved was able to actively participate and see the progress of the race as it unfolded, due to the format of out and back loops, up river and down. Each loop had an added trail extension climbing 1,500 feet or so up lovely side canyons. The course is mostly rough dirt road with the extensions being awesome trail, some rocky and narrow; the Los Alisos loop, 7 miles total of trail extension, is absolutely gorgeous! I had the opportunity while trotting along, to encourage all "Bien Hecho" - well done.
105 runners finished the 47 mile ultra marathon to win the minimum 500 pounds of corn awarded to ALL finishers, including 64 year old Tom Masterson, from Canada and Boulder, el Marmot, who finished the 47 miler in just under 12 hours. Tom gave it away to the old folks of Urique. All "Gringo" participants finished the 36 1/2 mile version, at least. Bien Hecho!
Places 1-5 won a ton of corn each.
Places 6-10 won over $200 dollars and a half ton of corn.
First place won 30,000 pesos - over $2,000
Second place: 20,000 pesos - $1,500
Third place: over $1,000 dollars
Fourth place: over $600 dollars
Fifth place: over $350 dollars
Further calculations add up to:
The top 5 won a total of 100 costales of maiz.
The second 5 won total 50 costales.
The finishing 95 after that won a total of 475 costales.
Yes, MORE prizes to finishers than winners.
625 costales of Maiz, at 50 kilos a costale, is over 62,000 pounds of Maiz - the cash equal value to purchase other foods as needed - which is 31 tons of Maiz.....
NOT a bad day at the office!
There were 7 beautiful Mukiras [Raramuri women] running, and they all won excellent prize money and maiz [corn]. Lucilla, the local health clinic worker, finished the race in 14 hours, showing why women are tougher!--:] She won cash and corn. We had one "gringa" woman run with us this year, compared to the eight we had last year - Thank you Vicky Stephens of the U.S. Army! - and we hope to have many more again next year!
The international winners ALL gave their corn back to the Raramuri and local people in whatever form they chose. The overall race winner, Will Harlan [El Chivo], gave all of his cash and corn to the first Raramuri, third place Arnulfo, saying that Arnulfo was the "True" champion, not having the luxury nor means to be able to train, covering ultra distances in daily life wearing huarache sandals just to work and live, tending his goats. When Arnulfo was asked by the press what he was going to do with all the money he had won, he said "Comprar chivas" [buy goats]....It was very beautiful that the winning "Chivo" [goat] would choose that spirit animal as his helper--:] Everybody won a wonderful experience. The participating Tarahumara runners were all fed and housed during their stay in Urique, treated with respect, like champions.
The "gringo", international runners interacted with all like the brothers and sisters we are. Everybody and anybody who participated in the 2009 CCUM [Copper Canyon Run], in any way, shape, or form, was sure to have left the deep canyon country knowing that we are ALL winners. To run free in peace and harmony, to act out of love and KORIMA [Raramuri word meaning: sharing], transcends the negativity, greed and violence that has become and remains all too common.
May the Raramuri and ALL of us continue to run free.
225 starters for the varied distances.
105 finished the 47 mile Ultra Marathon, including the last finisher in over 14 hours, Lucilla Vega of Urique.
An AMAIZING 31 tons of corn [the value of] was awarded to the people.
In case you are wondering "What the ........"
The top 11 were already mentioned...Nick and Jamil tied for 10th place. We had 4 Mas Loco gringos [and Hiroki!] in the top 11, but only Tom Masterson finished the 47 miler after that. The rest were mostly Tarahumara with LONG names, that I cut to two! And upon typing most of them, I could not send nor save - lost in cyberspace!
So, finally managed to get this list out between cyberspace and copper Canyon trail-space!