January 1, 2009 Issue 193 Volume 4
Tarahumara Feats Inspire Awe
Original article by Victor
Leadville, Colorado: Last weekend, Ken Chlouber was laboring up a dirt road about 25 miles into an ultra marathon when he was passed by two other runners. He looked at the runners, and then at their feet -- which were bare except for sandals made out of used tires, leather thongs and nails. "Maybe I'm spending too much on shoes," Chlouber half-joked as the runners passed him.
Those sandal-clad feet were the first to cross the finish line at the Leadville Trail 100 Ultramarathon, America's highest and possibly most rugged ultra-marathon. The runners, Victoriano Churro and Cerrildo Chacarito, are Tarahumara [Raramuri] Indians from the Copper Canyon area of Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental. The pair finished one-two after 20 hours while another Tarahumara [Raramuri], Manuel Luna, was fifth. And they did it their way, on sandals, called "huarachas," pieced together from tires picked up at the Leadville junkyard.
"I think this will set the
ultramarathon community on its ear," smiled Kitty Williams, who,
with Rick Fisher of Tucson, was primarily responsible for
bringing the Tarahumaras [Raramuris] to Leadville.
The 2008 Leadville Trail Ultramarathon has only added to their legend: this years winner, Victoriano Churro, is 55. His running partner, Cerrildo Chacarito, is 38.
Ultra-marathoners are talking in wonder about seeing them pass. "When you leave the Twin Lakes aid station (at 60 1/2 miles), you have to climb a steep ridge. No one runs up the trail there; no one," says Chlouber, a state representative and one of the race organizers. "Well, they (Churro and Chacarito) just took off and ran right up it like a couple of deer. It was amazing."
Tarahumara running facts:
Tarahumara have run over a hundred miles without stopping,
taking only pinole and water with them.