Run Free! – The Micah True (Caballo Blanco) documentary

It has been a sad week for all of us who knew Micah True. His recent death has sent shockwaves through the global running community. It has also opened up an incredible outpouring of emotions and support for Micah’s friends and the cause that he championed – the Tarahumara (or Raramuri – “running people”) culture of northern Mexico. As a friend of Micah’s and the filmmaker responsible for telling his story, I never knew the amount of lives that he touched and how much he meant to so many people. For this reason, I would like to give the following update on the status of the Micah True documentary that I am working on.

In February, I traveled to Mexico’s Copper Canyon with my filmmaking partner Leslie Gaines to film events leading up to the race in Urique. Our purpose was to document what has been called the “greatest race the world has never seen”. We had near exclusive access to the race director himself, Micah True. We arrived three weeks prior to the ultra marathon, met with Micah at the hostel where we were all staying, and began filming right away. With Micah’s permission and invitation, I filmed everything that took place leading up to the event. This included scenes of daily life in the hostel, running in the canyons with his dog and friends, interacting with members of the local community and doing the work of race preparation.

One of the highlights of our filming was a multi-day trip over the mountains to the small town of Batopilas where Micah owned a small house. Our mission was to deliver food and race invitations to the outlying Tarahumara communities. Micah and his friends ran to these communities and we followed them in our truck, loaded with 50-pound bags of corn. It was rewarding to see Micah in action, living out his mission in life in such a direct fashion. We returned from this short excursion in the canyons feeling privileged to have witnessed firsthand the actions and life of the celebrated ultra runner and first-rate humanitarian.

Back in Urique we spent the next couple of weeks filming more scenes of daily life and events leading up to the race. Micah participated in the filming to the extent that he could, and was open and generous with his time despite a myriad of duties and obligations relating to pulling the event off.

As the international runners began to arrive, we turned our filmmaking efforts towards them, learning about their stories and motivations, and filming incredible scenes of running in the beautiful canyon environment. Approximately 80 international runners came for the race, from more than a dozen countries around the world. Many of these runners participated in the documentary by sharing their perspectives about Micah and the whole scene that was taking place around them. It was obvious that Micah’s life had touched each of them in a unique way, enough that they were willing to make the difficult journey all the way to the bottom of the remote Sierra Madre canyons.

The race event itself was a spectacular success with five hundred people participating in the run including 100 Mexican nationals and over three hundred Tarahumara. On race day I was given permission to ride my BMW GS motorcycle on the course for filming and I covered the event from as many angles and perspectives as possible with my Sony EX-3 high definition camcorder. I believe that I filmed over four hours of actual race event footage including many beautiful scenes of Tarahumara and international runners running together in the beautiful canyon environment.

The next morning I was in the town center as Micah and his girlfriend Maria handed out the prizes to a line of Tarahumara that stretched all the way around the plaza and out into the streets. It was a beautiful moment of success for everyone involved. A couple of days later, we all left Urique. I remember seeing Micah driving his old truck around a bus that was stuck on one of the steep canyon roads. He waved goodbye, gave it the gas, and that was the last time I saw Micah True alive.

There is no question that Micah True was as authentic as they come. The kind of authenticity that Micah embodied was the authenticity that comes when one’s actions are in direct alignment with one’s values. Micah’s actions were a direct expression of his values. He lived his life as an authentic expression of what he believed in, to an unusual extent. It was an honor and a privilege to be invited into Micah’s world, and be given the unprecedented access to his story that I was given. I intend to fulfill my obligation to Micah by sharing his story with the world in a way that Micah would be proud of.

There is still a lot of work to be done in order to produce the documentary that I am working on, including more filming and countless hours of editing. My first priority is to edit together a short movie trailer, which I am currently working on. As time permits I will try to release some other samples from the filming. As this is a truly independent movie with no corporate support or sponsorship at this point in time, we will probably have to develop a social media marketing and fundraising plan of some kind. There are a lot of things to figure out, but the footage is there…. and we will tell the story.

There have been so many people involved in this project and I am honored to know each and every one of you. I want to thank each and every person that helped out with this project along the way.

  1. Thank you Sterling for the update. If fundraising is necessary, you know the Mas Locos will support you. Don’t hesitate to ask.

    • Thanks for reaching out Lynette, and motivating me to write up this post about the status of the movie. There is a long journey ahead but a positive one, I am sure.

  2. Awesome! Can’t wait to see the documentary when its done. Thanks to Caballo Blanco, we the international participants had an amazing and exceptional time watching first hand what the CCUM was all about. Micah has touch us all.
    Please keep us posted on fundraising. Thank you Sterling and it was very nice to meet you in Urique.

    • Aida, You won’t believe some of the incredible footage we were able to capture of you running in the race. You were always smiling!!!!!

  3. Sterling, your work has always been impressive and indeed inspirational. Good luck in this passion-filled task. It is a remarkable story with a very sad ending.

  4. I’m not a firm believer that things happen for a reason. They just happen. We give meaning to the thing that seem to occur in a synchronicitous fashion. Your being there to film what no one could have known was the last race Micah would preside over is one of those events which has now become filled with meaning. Your words prove you are fully aware of what I’m sure you regard as a sacred task to be as authentic as Micah was with the portrayal. I am so glad you were there to bear witness for the world what the hell was really going on down there. I look forward to seeing the film with a bitter-sweetness. It will be painful to watch Micah work his particular magic and know his time was very short. Please let us know how we can promote the film once it come out so Micah’s spirit can live on.

  5. Thanks for what you have done and are doing. Look forward to your documentary. Run Free. It was great meeting you and talking at the bridge. And keep us up to date on the fundraising.

  6. What a gift you’ve been given. So glad that you were able to capture the event on film. Wow. Looking forward to seeing it and willing to help with fundraising / marketing. Feel free to contact me.

  7. Sterling what a three week that was for me and I could write a book on this adventure. I have done allot of things in my 67 years but these three weeks are imprinted on my mind. It was so nice all being together with you at Keith’s Entre Amigos with Micah, Maria, Flint,Olaf,Ted,Dan,Steve,Luke,Leslie and the rest of the Las Moco’s. Great having a beer around the campfire and the meals in the campground kitchen. Your film is now going to have a whole new perspective and know you have many weeks/ months of editing but know it will be special. Hope you can come to Penticton for another adventure as only a 6 hour ride from Seattle and a great ride it is and you will be well looked after. Ellis

  8. Thanks for YOUR passion, Sterling. In Urique, I was there like you – just wanted to have the experience, and running the distance wasn’t my goal. I had such a good time, was so inspired by Micah, Robyn (aus), Keith’s way, the Big Bend river gals, the locos in general, Patrick and the whole goofy CA crew… and you ! Sabes que? you laughed at my morning-coffee-in-tent-ritual, and I in turn smiled to see you so passionate about your MC travel and video art (I never mentioned my own BMW travels, AZ to Canada, east coast, Mexico…). We chatted only briefly, but I was feeling so alive and lifted by the fine folks there at 3 amigos. I just assumed we’d all be there again next year. I will be, and I’ll still be missing Micah’s glowing spirit. I am ever appreciative of your efforts, as I look forward to someday seeing good footage of the social camping scene we enjoyed there — days I want to hold dearly in my heart until I return. Until then, I run with Micah beside me (as if I could hang, he he)… even named a nameless mountain for him last saturday! Ran until I could only scramble, then climb, and as I summited that little desert peak, I stetched my arms up to the blazing sun and screamed RUN FREE FOREVER MICAH, and you know what? I could hear someone else screaming the same, from another peak, on another range, in another country maybe – all over the world ! ! !

  9. I hope to see the documentary soon. Even when I’d never met him, Micah change my live. His legacy will be unfforgettable, as well as his soul: indestructible

  10. So glad that you’ll be completing this project and sharing a true view of Micah for all of us who wished we could have known him and attend his “greatest race”. He was a true inspiration! Please keep us updated on any fundraising or marketing needs that will help you to get this documentary completed and out there for the world to see.

  11. Hi Sterling,

    Have just come across your site and feel humbled by your other contributors, most of whom seem to have been with you, when you were filming and spent time with Micah. I am merely a reader of ‘Born to Run’, living in the UK, who has been captivated by the story and am eager to hear of your progress with documentary…along with many of the other contributors, am willing to assist with funding the production.

    Best wishes

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