Running with the Tarahumara Indians - Part I

The Race Director, Caballo Blanco, called us the Dream Team! Most likely because of the unbelievable running talent all crammed into a 1960 school bus headed for the depths of the Copper Canyon. For me, Dream Team meant something else. I was living my dream of running and learning from the famed Tarahumara Indians. I have "tried" to study these runners for years, finding tidbits here and there, hearing stories about the '94 Leadville race. So when Chris McDougall asked if I would be interested in coaching him as part of a book about these great runners and participate in the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon (CCUM), I jumped!

First I had the task of preparing Chris for the race, his first 50 miler. His preparation could not have gone better thanks to his devoted training and trust in "my way". As this first unfolded, the plan was for Chris and I to head down to the Copper Canyon, hook up with Caballo Blanco, the race director of the CCUM, and run the race with the Indians. As we got closer to the race and our departure, The Dream Team was formed. Now, Scott Jurek, Jenn Shelton, Billy Barnett, Luis Escobar, and Barefoot Ted were all planning to meet Chris and I in El Paso, and head to the Copper Canyon.

Well, the book is finally out, Born to Run. So instead of recount our adventure in words, go read the book. What I thought I would do however, is to chronical our journey with some images that might create an intimate feel to the masterful words of Chris McDougall.

The Dream Team riding on top of the bus on our way to Batopilas


The view from the back of the bus


Somewhere down there is Batopilas....way down there!


Touching down in Batopilas, Jenn immediately makes friends!


Once we had our first night of sleep in the Town of Batopilas, we hit the trails with Caballo. The next few images are of this first trail run. After much travel, it was needed!

Thats Caballo, Scott, Jenn, and Billy


Billy running the rugged trails of the Batopilas Canyon


Chris and Luis all ears for Caballo "speak"


Great shot from the Batopilas Canyon



Copping some shade


After our stay in Batopilas, we prepared for our 30 mile journey up and over the canyon and into Urique. The anticipation was mounting, as we would welcome the indians of the Batopilas tribe to make the trek with us and "show us the way" to Urique. Below is our sherpa burro, as we loaded all of our gear onto the burro for transport to Urique.


Stay tuned for Part II - The Trek

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Comment by Paul J. Russell on December 4, 2009 at 11:39am
Wow, the discriptions in Chris's book are great, but these pictures make my imagination pale in comparison!
Comment by Cory Linton on November 19, 2009 at 11:47am
Thanks, I looked at the videos and for the past couple days have really been trying to do it right--my calves are burning like crazy, but it is more of a muscle burn. I assume this is good, it feels like muscles when you life for the first time, telling me that I am using muscles I haven't used and that as those muscles strengthen, they will get stronger. I will look forward to your shoe webcast. The site is great, thanks for sharing.

Also, where can I get info on hiring your coaching services?
Comment by Eric Orton on November 19, 2009 at 7:50am
Cory - Glad you enjoyed the book and my site. Please see the simple run form videos in the video section. Run form is simple, the hard part is being patient to perfect it. The shoe question is more layer and I am headed out the door to travel. I will post a webcast when I return on shoes and what to look for - so thanks for your patience with that. There is quite a bit of comments on here as well - E
Comment by Cory Linton on November 19, 2009 at 7:27am
One more question, what do you recommend on shoes? The book basically says by cheap "dime-store sneakers." My expensive, "foot-damaging" running shoes are worn out and I need a new pair--what would you recommend?
Comment by Cory Linton on November 19, 2009 at 6:19am
I just finished the book, it was absolutely mind-blowing and completely changed the way I think about running. I am trying to mimic the techniques of running the in the book, is there a video on your site that shows how to run? One question I have is my understanding is that my heel generally should not touch the ground, and I stay on the front part of my foot--is that correct? Great website, btw.
Comment by Kevin O'Rourke on October 21, 2009 at 5:30am
hey Eric, what happened to part 2, really looking forward to that.

Thomas... I am running the race with Caballo in March 2010 you can contact him by his website caballoblanco.com which has the latest updates and more photos and his stories on all past events. If you ask nicely he may even let you race in March but I think all places have been taken but if you beg enough you never know...
Comment by Eric Orton on August 17, 2009 at 7:42pm
Hey Thomas - Glad you loved the book and liked the pictures. Check out my blog post that has the Tarahumara Slide Show. This shows the ball game played by the tribe. I will be posting more and please ask more question on the book, training, etc - as there is so much to learn in the book. Especially with your race distance. Also, be sure to watch the Daily Show either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, depending on your location. Chris will be on - E
Comment by Thomas Orf on August 17, 2009 at 7:32pm
I just finished reading the Born To Run. It was an amazing book about an amazing adventure and an amazing group of people. I feel I understand you a little more Eric and why you do what you do and do so much with this group. Thank you for providing all of us with your great advice and teaching.

Seeing these images really helps me get a good visualization of everything and I can't wait to see more and hear more about it. Has anyone stayed in contact with Caballo? Any plans of doing another run or race with him? I'd love to hear more.
Comment by Eric Orton on August 3, 2009 at 8:22am
Hi Matt - Welcome. Please feel free to post your questions in the FORUM section - E
Comment by Matt Gatto on August 2, 2009 at 6:02pm
Just wanted to say "Hi"- finished reading the book a little while ago and am psyched to be in touch with you through your blog.

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