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.