Caballo Blanco’s Last Run: New York Times Story

There was a recent article in the New York Times about Caballo Blanco and a few of my photos made it into the photo gallery that accompanied the article. I spoke with the author of the article a number of times as he was working on the story and I was pleased with the way it came out. I think he got most of the facts and details right, as far as I can tell.

We are still working on the trailer for the documentary and I made some progress recently when I had a chance to watch footage with my filmmaking partner Leslie Gaines down at the Overland Expo in Arizona. With about 50 hours of footage it is proving quite a task to work my way through all of it but I have been doing just that. I’m at the point now where I am beginning to transcribe all of the interviews that we filmed.

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  1. Interestingly, I had picked up the book “Born to Run” about a month ago and could not stop reading it — because I am a runner, because of the example of Caballo Blanco in describing running as a joyful part of life, and because of its focus on the Raramuri’s natural spirit and values tied to running. At the same time, it dealt with two locations that had become a big part of my life — Colorado and the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua where my father had lived. In particular, it also included two places where Caballo Blanco hung out — Guachochi/Creel area (where my father had lived) and Boulder, Colorado where I had attended the University of Colorado (and the flatiron mountains where I always went to run and hike). I had just finished the book (and Rose, my wife, had started it) when I received my monthly copy of “Runner’s World” magazine — and there was an article there about “Caballo Blanco” and his passing away. This article, however, did not include how he had passed away. The NYT article picks up where the book left off – and is a testament to Caballo Blanco’s life – in that he died while doing what always brought him joy, in the wilderness that was a part of his nature, and found by fellow runners who called out his name as they ran to find him. The significance of Caballo Blanco is how he learned the lessons of running from the Raramuris and that running is a part of living – a way of keeping healthy — but also, outside the world of competitiveness – a way of building community with collectivity — a part of nature’s gifts of joy and celebration. At the same time, there is the reality that some Tarahumara are being forced to assimilate somewhat and forced to turn away from running as a part of their lives. Hence, with the loss of running, there is also a loss of culture. A part of this story does have to do with the survival of the Tarahumara culture and why they have had overall good health. The food/corn prizes were all right — because it fit with their needs and essential parts of their survival. What I did not like is when Nike got involved — but liked that the Tarahumara runners saw through this sham and got rid of the shoes at the seventh mile. I liked how the author spent some time discussing this aspect — and how their running style had a lot to do with their ability to last longer. I learned a lot from this part — and how running should be joyful. The most important aspect is how running was seen as a part of their life — that they were born to do this — and that it brought them pleasure. The danger is revealed in the book — how the pursuit of profit by individuals and corporations — can exploit a part of nature and use it to sell shoes and sell “running.” If this becomes dominant — the beauty of an indigenous art will be destroyed and, as we have learned with the genocide of indigenous communities in the past — the destruction of an entire people.

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