Last Friday, the fine folks at Yolo Brewing permitted a strange group of people known as runners to come, park their vehicles, run around for an hour in the Sacramento heat and return sweaty, dusty, and smelly to drink beer, watch a movie, and have an all around good time.
If I get hurt, lost or die…
It’s my own damn fault.
The evening started with a nice, easy 4 mile run from the brewery, down the street to the American River and along a dusty dirt road.
The group split into two packs; a faster group and less than faster group. We tried our hand at bolas racing, and I smashed my toe. While the Raramuri play in their huaraches, I still need practice getting under the ball, rather than kicking it almost square on. My toenail is a lovely shade of dark purple at the moment.
At two miles, we paused to regroup and talk for a bit, then turned around and loped back, finding refreshment under a bridge with a small aid station of sorts.
It was uncomfortably warm under the late afternoon sun, 94 degrees and dry. I went out without water assuming the 4 miles would be done with quickly and would happily re-hydrate when we returned. I was parched by the time we returned to Yolo Brewing. We gathered together for group pictures, and I downed the contents of my 32 ounce Nalgene. I met my wife and we went to the food truck, Cecil’s Taste. Although a runner herself, she sat this one out due to the heat and being a week out from her due date. Don’t worry though, I drank enough beer for the two of us, as any loving, supportive husband would do.
Side Note: Sacramento has a pretty awesome food truck scene. If you make it out this way, be sure to sample as many of them as you are able to!
We all settled in to the cavernous back room to hear Luis talk about Scott Jurek’s Appalachian Trail adventures, time with the Raramuri, and the overall Born To Run experience. While ordering our food, I realized that I had lost my debit card and credit card. After a string of expletives, I promptly gave my empty water bottle, phone, and car keys to my wife, and set off back down the course, to see if I could find them.
Hot, tired, and thirsty is always a good way to start 4 more miles.
The entire time I was cursing myself and the heat, furious that I would miss pictures and stories from Luis Escobar’s adventures. At about mile 6.5 of the day I could barely think or move. I was keeping a 9 minute pace and it was killing me. i may have started ultra running in Afghanistan during the summer, but it had been MONTHS since I had last had a good run in this kind of heat, and I was just not ready for it. I made my way off the dirt road down to a small off shoot where a small group of people were fishing. They were so kind and offered me a bottle of water, which instantly rejuvenated me… Where ever you magnificent trail angels are, thank you. I ended up doing the entire course, again, and finding my cards shortly after getting water at mile 7 of 8.
What a time.
I made it back from my second lap, and pounded two water bottles, back to back. My burger from Cecil’s was waiting for me, and still warm. Avocado, bacon, and beef. WOW, what an amazing burger.
I picked out my flight and settled in for the slide show – which, as luck would have it, I did not miss much of despite my lost cards.
Luis gave an amazing presentation of Jurek’s update, and of the Raramuri people. He has a profound respect for these people and their lifestyle choice. He analogized them to the Amish peoples of America, that despite technology and modern living, these communities choose to live humbly and simply as “The Running People”.
While Luis claims he is not an anthropologist, his photos are captivating. No narration is needed to see the stories in the lines on the faces of the subjects in his photos. He has captured the Raramuri’s humanity and humility in every expression; from the stone faced and pensive Manuel Luna; to the smiling and laughing children of the Barancas, running as their people have done for centuries.
After the slide show and talk, we moved into the main room for the raffle and movie. The raffle proceeds went to the Norawas de Raramuri, who:
“work to provide maize, non-GMO seed corn, and cash awards for participating Rarámuri runners, men and women alike. In this way we offer both nutrition during drought and support for a tradition of small farms necessary to both physical and cultural survival.”
Please go to their site and contribute if you are able.
We tabled up with Dean Fulton, Karey Humphreys-Cooper, the race director for Intrepid adventure Events and her friend Kelsey. As the raffle started, my wife pulled three tickets out of her purse. She told me that some nice, older woman had given her two before leaving early.
Then she dropped the hammer…
“You remember that woman you were fan-boying over earlier, Ann Trason? Her and her husband did. Luis pointed her out during the slide show while you were running, and she gave them to us while you were in the bathroom.”
The look on my face must have been priceless.
So. I missed meeting Ann Trason, and now we had her tickets for the raffle. Bitter Sweet. I think I am going to frame them.
Next up was the screening of Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco.
Before the screening, Maria Walton read a letter from the White Horse himself, written poetically in 1995 after he went south to Mexico for the first time after the infamous 1994 Leadville race. It was an emotional insight into Micah True’s heart and mind. I really cannot express how incredible it was to hear. I cannot thank Maria enough for sharing that with us.
The documentary was a wonderful, moving tribute to Micah True. I will leave an in-depth review for the cinematic professionals, but I will mention the film has received awards in film festivals around the country, and is now headed to Spain on the international circuit.
The audience was silent, till the very end when we erupted in applause. Eyes grew misty throughout the room, and I think everyone felt more in touch with who Caballo Blanco was, and in a strange slightly connected way, a little more aware of themselves.
Micah True was a man who hated being in the public eye. He disliked people asking about him, his past or details of his life. He was in touch with nature, and those close to him, including the Raramuri – to call him a loner would be incorrect. However, he did prefer a quiet life, away from the noise of the world. Yet, he leveraged the Caballo Blanco persona that people knew and recognized to help preserve the way of life that his dear friends, the Raramuri, followed. He selflessly put himself out there, to help others, even if it meant deal with corrupt government officials, mining companies, and the world he tried to avoid.
Many people will stop to help those truly in need, but few will go the lengths that Micah True went to. He was an amazing runner, friend to the Raramuri, and humanitarian. He will be missed.
Run Happy, Run Strong, Run Free.
In the days following the event I have learned that two additional people deserve recognition for their efforts in putting this whole thing on. The first is Mark Takata for getting the event put together, and finding sponsors with Mike. The second is Mike Costello, the owner of Yolo Brewing who, along with finding sponsors; donated the beer wrenches that came with the raffle tickets, and a large portion of the beer sales for the evening. I raise my glass to you both. Thank you.