Run Free – The True Story of Caballo Blanco

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For anyone who is familiar with the book Born to Run, and let’s face it, most runners are, you must check out the documentary Run Free, all about the Ultra Marathon Caballo Blanco and the story of the man behind it.

The synopsis from the official website is as follows:

Run Free – The True Story of Caballo Blanco, a feature documentary directed by Sterling Noren, chronicles the life of American ultra-running legend Micah True (Caballo Blanco, or the White Horse) and his quest to create an ultra-marathon in Mexico’s Copper Canyon to promote and preserve Tarahumara running tradition. True was a main character in Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book Born to Run – A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen http://www.runfreemovie.com/film/synopsis/

I found it to be an extremely moving documentary which expands on the ‘character’ in the book to talk about his life and how he created the Copper Canyon ultra-marathon, now known as the Ultra Marathon Caballo Blanco, which takes place every March in Mexico.

I say character in inverted commas here as Caballo Blanco (aka White Horse or Micah True) was very much a real person who wanted to give something back to the Tarahumana, the tribe with whom he had run in the canyons of Mexico but who were facing many threats to their community from the numerous roads being built into the canyons, along with drought, hunger and environmental devastation from mining, logging and drug cultivation. By creating the now-annual Copper Canyon ultra-marathon, a 50 mile foot race across hilly, rocky and dirt terrain, Caballo Blanco created an amazing event with something for everyone. The Tarahumana who participate each get vouchers for produce such as beans, rice and maize, the main ingredient of their staple dish for running fuel pinole, and international distance runners get the chance to run with some of the best runners in the world. Win win.

The event became overwhelmingly popular after Christopher McDougall, author of the aforementioned Born to Run, featured both Caballo Blanco and the event in his best-selling book. Today the event draws in many runners, with 338 participants in 2016, and raises a lot of money to support the Tarahumana. (Official site: http://www.norawas.org/ccum/#about-ccum)

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When I saw the documentary I was embarking on a training plan for my very first ultra-marathon and so it really spoke to me and spurred me on. My event was a 50k relatively flat race, so nowhere near the demanding terrain of the Copper Canyon or the same distance, but I felt like by completing it I could become part of this special club of ultra-runners, of which Caballo Blanco was definitely a figurehead. It would give me something in common with such a running legend. It turns out that the day of my race, 27th March, was exactly 4 years to the day that Caballo Blanco died in his beloved canyons in Mexico and as I ran along the rain-swept towpath of the Rochdale canal, I thought of him and all he had achieved and how someone I had never met who lived and died on the other side of the world had inspired me on my quest to do something epic.

A bit about Run and Become

I watched the documentary at a screening at Run and Become in London and wanted to provide a bit of information here about who they are! 

I love Run and Become. It is fundamentally a running shop, which has outlets in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff and has an extensive online store too, and it’s the perfect hybrid between a shop that is small enough to offer a personalised service and one that is big enough to stock a decent range and have relatively competitive prices. 

The other reason I love it is because of the many free events they hold throughout the year. I have been to a free core and glutes strength class – glutes being my weak spot – which included a run to the park and lots of great stretches and strength moves with a certified coach, along with a Pilates for runners free session, again with a qualified instructor. It is almost unheard of to have classes of this quality for free in London. The downside is that they book up so quickly that you have to get in there fast, but other than that it is an amazing service! We were also emailed a summary afterwards so that the exercises could be incorporated into our training. Such an unbelievable resource – it seems maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch after all! In addition to the free events they offer, there are also various other paid services you can access such as running technique coaching, shiatsu massage and physiotherapy and, of course, the film screening of Run Free which cost me just £5 and for that I got a drink, popcorn and a free pair of running socks. Certainly cheaper than any cinema I know of.

Check them out here: runandbecome.com 

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