Sunday, March 20, 2011

Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon 2011



Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon
2011

come back to this later

It's a daunting task to reflect upon my trip to the Barancas.  The magnitude of the experience has not set in (even though I have totally lagged in getting this post together) It was a trip where  I gained many new friends had lots of great experiences
and
gave a little blood while I was at it.
Journal drawing colored in w/ the PC

 Being a poor bastard I do not  get out and explore the world as often I would. like.  In general I love planes, airports and traveling. I am on a plane about once or twice a year always sitting in the window seat dumbfounded by the view.
  I have been wanted to run this race since the day I found out it was real, time to bail town and find some sunshine. The day of my departure the weather forecast for Manhattan Beach had a low of 37 degrees  the lowest I have seen my entire life.  My body runs better on solar power time to travel deep into the heart of Mexico.

First leg of the Journey

2/26
 Lax To El Paso

If you say  you heard me sing praises of El Paso
Your Lying!

I once took a Greyhound from L.A. to Houston (2002 Disc Golf world championships) and got stuck at a El Paso bus station from Midnight till 3.a.m.  Picture a Tijuana jail that's what it felt like except for if I were in a Tijuana jail I hopefully  just did something really cool or fun prior to incarceration. Luckily this trip would be just a nights stay in this God forsaken metropolis.



I was traveling to Mexico as sponsored athlete "Lunatic" by Luna sandals (pretty cool huh)
I arrived in El Paso Just after midnight, after catching a cab (hotel shuttle ditched me) I was at my room  within 20 minutes, where I was warmly greeted by Barefoot Ted, his girlfriend Leah and Luna's code Monkey Bookis . They took me in  with open arms and I was really stoked to spending time with the other "Lunatics" I ended up sharing a room with Ted and Leah.  I put my ear plugs in and got to sleep not long after my arrival

A new Prototype pair of Luna sandals awaited me
Sweet
New sandals in the center.

The sandals I wear more than any other wear my Luna Equus with elastic laces. They are mostly for casual and gym wear.  When I train, I am barefoot and when I race I normally wear my Original Luna's with Leather straps.  In my last Ultra my Original Luna's held up great for about 95% of the race but I could have used a little more grip. Just before leaving for Mexico one of the Monkeys at Luna put together for me a special sandal. 2mm Equus leather top with 4mm Ledville tread on the bottom.  I was told that Copper Canyons course would be easier than Calico (my last race) so  I planned on running in the new sandals with the added grip but I brought my Originals with me just in case the equus leather wouldn't mold to my feet in time.
(They are kind of like my security blanket.)

2/27

The next morning a dust storm was rolling into El Paso. Time to get out of this wonderful town  and cross the boarder to Mexico

First stop get our visitor visa's stamped 
La migra


Bathroom at the immigration office
(Doesn't everybody take pictures of Mexican bathrooms?)


If you wonder why the bathroom looks like that check out the
E.P.A.

I had to take this picture from the web.  I was too chicken to snap a photo myself
(something about dudes pointing a machine guns at me makes me refrain from taking their photos)

We didn't stay long in Juarez, we pretty much just drove straight through.  To be honest  they city looked nicer than El Paso (but very similar).  There were much fewer chain stores (although we did stop at Costco.) and a lot more vehicles full of Policia or Army dudes wearing masks and carrying giant machine guns.

stop 2
 Piss stop at  a gas station time to use my Pesos for the first time.
1- bottle of Habanero Sauce  (it lasted 2 days)
2- Pieces of De la rosa Marzapan
total
a whooping 14 pesos

stop3

First meal we stopped at some side of the road Quesadilla place
their vegan options consisted of:
Roasted green chilies with tortilla's

Back on the road we drove through Menonite country. I guess a long time ago a bunch of Gringo's bailed from the states and started up their own little community in the middle of nowhere Mexico. Each of their homes all looked very clean without a single leaf out of place and most had a shiny John Deere tractor somewhere on the property.

We eventually   made it to  the halfway point of our drive the Beautiful city of ?????
I have no clue
(maybe I should pay more attention)

Diego (our driver)
took us to steak house that looked like it could have been found in the states it even had American country music playing when we entered (they also played one of my favorites the Cellia Cruz version of "guantanamera").  For dinner mushroom and french fry taco's.  They also served some special coffee that claimed it would raise ones libido and eliminate erectile dysfunction.  It was early in the trip and I still felt pretty vigor so I decided to pass.

(maybe on the way back.  lol)

2/28

View from hotel I think it cost like 32 pesos a night.  I shared a room with Ted and Leah once again
Ted serenaded me to sleep with his snoring

Heres' some van stats about the 12 people riding together

and myself
5 from Seattle, 3 from Salt lake, 2 from Ohio, 1 Los Angeles 1 New Mexico
5 vegans, 1 vegi, 6 omni

Plus our Driver 
Diego
 A really cool guy who owns a hotel that we were driving to has dedicated much of his life to help provide countless needy children in Mexico.


Next Stop Creel

The Ohio Girls pointing out where our travels shall take us.

Got my first glimpse of some traditional Huarache sandals.  I was bit giddy when I saw them.

In creel we aproached by some Beautiful Tarahumara women and children selling their handmade soiuviners. How could we say no?

My kind of Mariachi
There was some cool art in the town square


Similar pictues like this were all over Mexico. They contained this same wolf either killing or cooking a chicken while holding a clever in his other hand.  I may eat a vegan diet but this pic makes me want to eat the  wolf.

Vegan Mexican lunch

Eating wolves can get pretty messy so I opted for a different type of lunch. The Tecate was not as cheap as I had hoped 865 pesos (cheaper in the states)  I should be drinking Stone Ale at those prices

Back to the journey, by now we had been driving for a day and a half  I would like to say I had some clue of the itinerary but I didn't.  
I had no problem just going with the flow, and would have happily rode this van all the way down to "Tierra Del Fuego"  if it were in cards.
this map was on the side of some building


First sign of the canyons. There's only one vehicle that can drive up them hills

We took a quick pit stop to take in the view


Once again we ran into some beautiful Tarahumara women and children weaving baskets and making other pieces of art.

I love the bright colors.


You don't see this too often in the States


Along the way we stopped at a boarding school to drop off of some donated clothes and supplies for its students.  Diego Informed us that this school recived free grain vouchers from last years race and rationed them to last clear into September.  I thought that was pretty cool.  The kids at this school seemed to be an extension of Diego's family.  I really respect his commitment to helping these these kids  live a better life.

Yogi Bear behind

Eventually we made it Diego's hotel.  a little oasis in the middle of nowhere.

Where our Race Director Caballo Blanco and his trusty sidekick Guadajuko were there to greet us


At Diego's we met up with about 15 other gringos we would spend the rest of the week with.  There was also had a fully stocked bar and the first margarita was free.



Barefoot Ted drinking some local moonshine. 

 The stuff was pretty good with a real intense flavor kind of similar to absenthe minus the green fairy

3/01

I woke up the next morning to Caballo Blanco screaming to "No Guadjuko"


  You see Diego has a pet bunny and Guadjuko wanted to play. After about 10 laps back and forth through the court yard the bunny proved itself to be fast enough to be running in the race and Guadjuko was corralled with his tail still wagging


There wasn't really a trail to be found but a group of us decided to bushwhack our way up to Yogi Bear.  It would be my first chance to try out the new sandals.  My big toe was still fairly messed up from my disc golfing accident and I wanted to see how much of a factor it would be out on a trail.


Toe felt good and the sandals were doing their job although they needed to get broken in a bit more

Time to enjoy the view.

It didn't take to long to get to the top and the view was pretty awesome.  That's the hotel down below.  We found a trail down the backside which made the trip down even easier.  We had only been hiking for a few hours and had some time to kill before lunch so my new friends Suman and Patrick (both runners would be running the race in Vibram treks) decided to jog a few miles and check out the next town down the road.

Their local church was  beautiful
and
  lucky for me their lord din't strike me down with lightning bolt
after setting foot on it's gounds


We found a volleyball court and although we had no ball we made the best of it
(what a bunch of dumb asses)

I dug my shadow so much in this pic I decided to turn it into a piece of art

I call this piece
"Barrel of Shadow Monkeys"

We were getting hungry and running a bit late so we ran a little faster on the way back.  We even got a few whistles from a truck full of Mexican girls driving by.


Team Vibram
Suman left wore Kso Treks and Pat wore Treksports

Yup that's me 

We made it back to the hotel just before lunch


Jess
The only woman that ran the race in  Luna Sandal's switching out her laces.


Jess needed a little help so Bookis showed off some of his skills he learned working at the factory.

After Lunch I had 2 options.  Either go visit a school in the town we just came from, or go hike to find an old Tarahumara burial ground. Both options were intriguing but guess which one I choose?


I may be an atheist but their was definitely an eerie vibe at this place.  


If I ever come out with a heavy metal album this pic is going in the CD booklet.


Those are Human bones

The burial ground was pretty interesting.  It was a little ways off the beaten path in the middle of nowhere.  There looked to be signs of cremation on the premises but I'm not really sure.  It fascinates me that people would bring their deceased love ones all the way to this particular spot.  I told my fellow hikers to bring me back here if I don't make it through the rest of the trip.


Prehistoric Lazy Boy
Meets
Modern day lazy dude

I bet this recliner has been here for thousands of years.  It was so comfortable I lost track of what I was doing and left my favorite shirt there. 
Good incentive to
go back and get it next year.

Cremation?

No
Dinner at Diego's place being cooked outdoors


Caballo Blanco gave us a nice race briefing the night before we were to hike down to Urique


During this time I think Bookis fell in love


The margarita's were way too a small so I decided  to hit the showers


A few days prior I purchased a bottle of cheap ass tequila at a Mexican supermarket
Leah walked up to me while I was in line and asked me 
"What is that for?" 
me
"duh"
I thought it was pretty obvious myself
My response
"For the shower of course."

And that is where it remained the rest of the trip


Nothing like a good shower with tequila and friends


It was a fun night and we all got to bed at a reasonable hour (seperate beds).  The next morning we were to hike 18 miles down to Urique, a small town at the bottom of the Copper Canyons where we would be racing in a few days time.

3/2

Guess which foots mine? pretty tough huh?


Ted Myself and Caballo's girl Maria
We were all smiles early into the hike.  The weather was nice and the scenery was beautiful

Top of the canyon.

For the first few hours of our hike we climbed, now it was time to head deep down into the canyon to Urique

Hi ho, Hi ho 
it's off to Urique we go
Doot Doot Doot Do Doot Doot Do 
Hi ho  Hi ho  Hi ho   Hi ho


The weather was getting warm and the water bottles were starting to empty


10 miles in we reached  some H20

Delicious 
Some people drank the water straight such as "Caballo"  I bummed an iodine tablet for my 2 bottles



This bad boy was just sitting in the middle of nowhere on few rocks


The last 4 miles of our hike was part of the actual course, 2 of the miles were super technical and steep.
(Oh oh I think the terrain is gonna be more difficult than I had anticipated.)

Urique I have found it

It takes a brave man to hug a cactus

Bookis giving some love to a Mexican sky "Scrapper"
(stupid joke I know)

Known as Keith's place or the Farm

On the outskirts of town a Gringo named Kieth build a pretty kick ass hotel / bunkhouse / campground complete with a organic garden for it's patrons to graze upon. I will stay here next year.  we had not yet secured a place to stay, Ted had ran out in front to scope out the situation and we figured we could find him at Mama Tita's restaurant and if we couldn't find Ted at least I find a beer. :)

We were about to setf foot in the town of Urique



As we walked down the center of the street Shawn, Tiffany Bookis and I felt as if we were in a parade.  We were greeted with pleanty of smiles strange looks and friendly Hola's.  Boy did we stick out like a  sore toe.  Children did not know what to make of us they yelled out at us "Caballo Blanco"   down in Urique the local's do not call the race The Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon, they refer to it by using the name of their gringo friend
The White Horse.

We found are way to Mam Tita's restaurant
There sat Maria

I love Maria's smile and her spirit but at this moment I only had eyes for 
BEER


I purchased a beer for each hand. For the first time in my life I wished I was an Octopus.

Caballo Blanco

Without Caballo none of this would be possible.  He is a very interesting dude.  He wants so much for everything to go as planned, somtimes I think he needs to stop and appreciate all the great things that he has achieved.  You see when your a perfectionist / dreamer such as Caballo things can always be better and goals are never reached but with such dissapointment comes progress.   The Raramuri, and us gringos are truley in debt for this beautiful event he has put together in the Copper Canyons and all the philanthapy and korima that comes with it

Thank You Caballo 


We found Ted smoozing with the local government.  His hustle to town had payed off and he found us a 2 bedroom 6 bed house to stay in for 600 pesos a night

Ted is not much of drinker he had drank 3 beers within about 90 minutes (for me it was like 20 mins) 

After his livations Ted was all lovey dovey I decided to keep my distance and let Leah move in for the smooch. 

Everyone was in good spirits.
I asked Bookis if he could  fit the end of his fanta bottle through the lobe of his ear

Syed our tour guide and new best friend
(also a relative of Mama Tita)
The little bugger stuck to like glue the whole week.


The feet of a bunch of Lunatics after our hike


Time to go see what 600 pesos a night buys us.

I wonder how many stars this place got on travelocity?

We only found one scorpion, it had a reprint of the last supper on the wall and Bookis even got a satin sheet. We even had a lock (for a few days) and water and electricity some of the time. 

High rollin I tell ya.

Kumquats?  not really

Pretty to look at these babies were growing right outside, however there rinds had almost no sweetness, I only ate about 5 handfuls

video

Syed wanted to show us how fast he was so I challanged him to race.
Guess who won?

I referred to him as  El champion for the rest of he trip.
(he was a really cool kid)

 It was a pretty grooling 18 mile hike my body felt beat up.  The grip on the new sandals was fantastic but the fit was not quite right. The next morning we had the option of going for another 10 to 22 mile hike at 8:00 a.m.   to see some of the course.  I was weighed my options before heading to sleep. On one hand I really wanted to see the course so that I'd  know what to expect and not get lost.  On the other I hadn't got a decent nights sleep the first 3 night's and I was starting to feel a bit fatigued.  

I woke up the next morning at about 7:30 and decided I would "not" go on the hike. I was no longer sharing a room with Ted and Leah instead I was out in the main room with Bookis while the two couples took the bedrooms.   I had slept well but felt lazy at about 8:00 I started to boil water for coffee when Bookis came back in the house from using the internet.  He said the group had not left to go hiking yet and the we could still make it.

Ah what the Hell, who needs rest and breakfast anyway.
(their I go not lsitening to myself as usual)

We hurried down the hill just in time to catch the group in front of Mama Tita's

The plan was to either to  hike what we be the the frirst 10 and the final ten of the race with the brothers Nick and  Jamil (2 time finishers) or to hike miles 10 to 22 with Caballo. 

I decided 10 miles was less than 12 set off with Nick and Jamil plus about 10 others

I left in such a hurry I forgot my camera so I stole this one and the next few pics from Suman
(Thanks Suman)

Just before we hit the turn around point we saw some school children having a ball race (Rarajipari) during recess.  The kids had two teams of 5 or 6 and flicking a small wooden ball with their feet on  a looped course maybe 500 yards long.  We watched them do about 4 laps.  It was really interesting how they wouldn't kick the ball instead they position the ball on top of their feet and flick the ball with topspin out in front towards another teammate.
After the boys were done out came the girls doing a similar race that looked equally fun.  Each girl carried a small stick which she used to fling asmall rope ring (about the size of a  those little rings kids play with in the pool.



It was really cool and a treat to watch. eventually a few of us gringos decide to challenge the kids to a race

That's us about 200 ft behind near the finish


It was a ton fun and although we were much bigger and stronger, we got our butts kicked.  At one point we even flicked out ball over a barbed wire fence.  Pat Mcgee started to climb over in retrieval.  When all of sudden the kids team stopped racing went around the fence and got our ball for us, they even waited a few extra seconds for us to get ready be for they were off again.

Total sportsmanship!
(Suave)

and to make things even cooler

They gave Bookis the game ball afterwards.
(which now resides at the Luna Sandal factory)

It was a really great experience and I was very glad I decided not to sleep in.
(dreams are cool but reality is better)

The weather couldn't have been much nicer (around 85 I'd guess), most of the return trip on the hike I ran so that I sooner could jump in the river.

Mexican baptism

Suman's photo but I was the photographer

Bookis and I eventually got back to town parched and Hungry.  We intended on getting Breakfast (it was now about 2.p.m) but got side tracked into picking up our race shirts.


2010 Female winner

This girl is total bad ass in my book.  SHe won the race last year in Huaraches wearing a dress and I think she was only 17 or 18 at the time, and get this she finished the race in about 8 hours.
(f--k yeah)



Don't I look lovely?
#229
Do you think I will wear this shirt during the race?
Now that I got my shirt it was time to  talk to the international media


 There was film crew from Japan filming the event for Japanese public television.  they were all pretty cool people.  Bookis and I both did a quick interview with them, you know for our fans over seas. Lol.

we ended up picking the shirts for the rest our roommates along with some avocados and fresh tortillas for the calories we desperately needed.

Upon reaching the hotel we found Ted not feeling to good still lying bed so we decided to let him rest and go wander around town 


Wifi

On the side of the main governmental building in town their was free wifi.  Where at any time of day you could find at least a couple of us social network deprived gringo's  copping a squat.  Pat and I even made a few new friends


It was also a nice place to chill and get out of the sun

I decided to blend in with the Tarhumara.  Can you find me?

For most of the week I was th only one strolling with out shirt.  I wore my Luna's when I hiked or ran but a lot of the time I wandered the streets barefoot.  It's that a gringo in Huarache got almost no stares but when I was barefoot I got all kinds of strange looks.  Everyone was shod but me

By late afternoon we were all pretty burned out. 
Shawn
decided to pick up a bag of Coke to help liven up the party

You see In Mexico if you buy a bottle of coke at a small market you can either drink it there or poor it in a plastic baggie so that they may retain the bottle.

Later  that  evening the lock for our door fell apart so the property manager came up am and opened it for us


All the windows of the hotel were barred and the door was steel. 


The dead bolt was also a little sketchy, so we decided to press our luck leaving the door unlocked the rest of the trip rather than risk be locked out for good.
3/5

2 days before the run

If we wanted to we could go do an 18 mile hike to see miles 22 through 40 of the course.  "Are you kidding me" My body was beat, the race was 2 days away and I woke up with a pretty bad sore throat.  I guess you can tell where this is going 
Yes 
I went for the hike.
Ted was still feeling sick, Leah health was starting to sour but I convinced Bookis and Shawn said they would hike at least an hour and then turn back.

Supposedly the first 6 miles of the hike were pretty flat fire roads with a couple climbs. After that we would cross a suspention bridge and then hike straight up a mountain for 3 miles to some grapefruit trees.  (I'd prefer  beautiful women with beer but at least there was some sort of pot of gold at the end of the hike)

Nacho

Just before leaving on our hike we came across Nacho.
(the most enterprising Tarahumara I ever seen)
Today he was making custom Huarache sandal's we commissioned him to make six pairs and couldn't wait to see what he would come up with

Along the way


We crossed a small shrine.

A little known fact: 
In Mexico the chickens have no heads.


We stayed close to the river for awhile


The bridge was pretty cool.  We crossed it four or five at time and it felt like a ride.  I was really looking forward to running on it during the race


I was wearing my Original Luna's (and pretty sure I would wear them during the race) I new this stretch would be difficult for me  come race day and this climb was more brutal than I had envisioned if I wanted to run a fast race I would have to seriously make up that time down on the fire trail. Where My lighter sandals would give me an advantage over the traditional thick Huaraches.

Best grapefruits ever

Once we got the top life was beautiful once again


I had 3  and thought that Jamil  ate 9.  I got a long way to go before becoming a true  fruitarian

 I might add more later but I need to finish this damn post  (it's way to long as it is

We hiked backed down and I was slow.  We got to the fire road and the sun was blazing  it was about 1 p.m.  I think a very similar time and temperature I though I feel come race day.
Jamil's watch read close to 100 degrees.

Thier are no liquor stores or markets that sell beer or other alcohol in Urique.  Just outside of town there non assuming building that sells6 packs of Tecate for 65 pesos.  I dragged Jamil and Carlo (another gringo from Cali) over there with me for quick cold one)
It really hit the spot.

After getting back from camping I took a quick shower and decided to see what was going on at the farm.


Nick playing ping pong

These dudes were camping and they had Ping Pong?



And a kitchen full of utensils
Not to mention a garden full of Vegis
(those lucky bastards)


Random kick ass Seattle Folk

We ran into this couple on the streets.  They had road their bikes from Seattle to Urique starting in November (wow).  We told them about the race and the girl decided to run in it just 2 days before (big big cajones) she ended up finishing 40 miles I think.
(I was impressed)


On the way out of camp I saw Jess from a distance. As I got closer I noticed she was washing what I had thought were her unmentioables so I apprached with catuion so that she would not get embarressed.  It turns out it was her Leadville sandals she was washing.

3/05 
A day for rest

I woke up feeling about 60%
I really needed rest and thought a dip in the river would help.  Shawn, Bookis, Bookis's Iphone, and I decided to go for a swim.



Because our American Cell phones had no coverage in Mexico all us Gringo's were forced to communicate via bull horn

El Diablo Enano 



We stopped by mama Tita's for a bite to eat on the way back and this guy belted out a couple tunes for us
(he also said he'd be running the next day in those exact boots.
His singing was surprisingly  good (I have no ear for it)  and I told Shawn to tell him "he sung like an Angel." lol

after lunch it was back to the hotel for few minutes of rest  and then head back to town.

Wen we headed back to town we found Nacho and picked up our sandals we had ordered the day before


Nacho and I

I like to consider myself Mexican (see prior blog post) perhaps Nacho considers himself Irish?


Is Bookis really a Giant? or is Nacho really that tiny?


The cut was a little big for my liking but I could have seriously used some tread like this out on the course. this may become my Rarijipari sandal of choice


The pre race nights ceremonies were still an hour or two away


While we waited Barefoot Ted tried to teach the local kids the fine intraquicies of modern dance while sporting his jersey from the 2006 CCUM


The kids all got a really good kick out of "El Mono"


Scoping out the competition


The ceremony was really cool. The whole town gathered together in front of the main municipal building along with all the visiting Tarahumara and gringo runners.


They had every type of Mexican singer and dancer imaginable



This family was sitting right behind me I kept throwing smiles and funny faces at the little girl.  It took her awhile to warm up but eventually  I got her to laugh
 (that made me happy)


Arnolfos son enjoying the festivities
Check out those kick ass Huaraches on his feet.  


The California contingency


Leah Ted and I


Just before heading  up to the room I ran  into my Kiwi buddy Paul at Mama Tita's I was in awe of his preparation.

Althought the sun was still setting it was time to head back up to the hotel and get some sleep.

I was the first one back and when I arrived the Electricity was running at about 10% power I flipped the circuit breakers to no avail and it seemed that the race festivities were consuming all the towns power. I went about my business with my head lamp on and got all my stuff ready for the morning and was snug in bed by (9:15 (maybe arecord for me) My house mates straggled in soon.  While they got their stuff together I drifted into slumberland to the sound of the Bob Marley Discography.

3/6
Race Day
I was up before my alarm and felt completely refreshed.  My sore throat felt a little better and the big toe was feeling fairly decent.  Sometime during the night we lost water power to the hotel (inevitable the way things going).  Oh man "what about the morning constitutional?"
Luckily this really sweat Mexican girl Nubia staying in the next hotel over let use her facilities.

As for the others I was staying with, come race day Bookis felt healthy an seemed optimistic 9 this would be his first 50miler attempt, Shawn would also be attempting his first 50miler,  Tiffany , Shawn's girlfriend only planned to run the first 10 mile loop (but would end up running 22miles,  Leah had been really under the weather the last few days and felt it would be In Luna sandals best interest if she skipped the race in order to take pictures (she got some really awesome ones) and lastly  Barefoot Ted, he was a bit of wild card., he was  also feeling a little sick.  I had no clue wether he was going to run the whole race or just a few miles.

 I decided I would give it go in my original Luna's.  This meant I would sacrifice traction and speed on anything steep or technical both up or down.  On the good side my feet would be comfortable for a day of running and the sandals are perfect for going fast on flats or moderate hills.


Feet pre-race
The taping Jobs are really starting to get ridiculous.
I really didn't need to tape the left foot but what the hell why not

Caballo Blanco Mural

Our hotel was just up the street from races starting point.  Each time we went to town we passed a pretty cool mural for the race.

Caballo and I ready to rumble


Roommate runners

a little over 300 runners lined of to race with only about 35 gringo's.  I found myself near the middle of the pack directly behind Arnolfo (who was 2nd place the first year and winner the second)  Next to me were the Courry brothers Nick and Jamil. they told me that the Tarahumara went out fast, but just how fast we would soon find out.  It was as surreal experience the race was actually happening standing in the the middle of the street in the tiny Isolated city of Urique at 6:40 a.m. march 6th the 2001 Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon was about to begin.  Thier I stood in my sandals about to race some of the best runners in the world along with a mix of  mexican people out to see if they could bring home some food for their families.


 I had set my watch for an 8:15 pace per mile, if I could average that  for the entire race I would finish near last years winning time.  If I was at full strength with adiquite training a pace like might be realms of possibility,  although I new my body  was not there I wasn't gonna count myself out of contnetion before the race had even began.

VAMOS

It was on , the runners in front sprinted from the starting line as if it were a 5k
Corralled by the narrow street and spectators on the sideline there was an electric vibe in the atmosphere.  It felt like how I imagine it would to run with bulls in Pamplona Spain .  It was a frantric pace the first 1/2 mile or so out of town, we were all probably running faster than we we should fueled on a mixture of exuberance and adrenaline.  

So many people in huaraches (maybe 200), probably about 75 to 100 traditionally dressed Tarahumara, 20 Mexicans in jeans and at least 20 women running in full dresses.  It quite the scene and a memory I will never forget.  
Even after we had ran a mile there were still what looked like 12 year old girls in jelly sandals in front of me (and I was running  fast).

The bridge was new for this year.  In the past this was a water crossing

2 miles in we crossed a pretty nice brand new bridge (water would have been more fun but this was much easier) after the bridge came a mad dash up some fire roads and over some hills.  Imagine water going down hill, now play that imagery in your head in reverse. almost everyone in front of me was now scurrying up the hills through brush and tiny almost nonexistent trails in an effort to find short cuts over the actual.  Most of them were totally insignificant and few of them seemed much more difficult if not longer.  We were all running at a pretty frenzied pace and I would guess  I was in about 30th place.

I was running reckless up and down the rolling hills my legs felt good my attitude was positive and I was optimistic about a good race. I was flying downhill on a fire trail around a corner where the hill got much steeper right as the ground became more firm  with a thin layer of banana peel like silt.  

My right leg slipped out from under me. my legs  kept spinning with my feet finding traces of the ground as I desperately hoped regain my balance to no avail. It ook about 5 steps covering over 20 feet before My face met the trail.


there I lie looking like a sacrificed Aztec warrior all sliced and thrown the stairs of the temple.  Blood was trickling out of my body in about 15 places including both nostrols, my side, my shoulder both hands, all down my right leg my leg,  my big toe and completely caked in dirt.  The Toe hat had alomost healed and was bandanged up now was exposesed to the world and spewing out blood like beer tap on St Patrick's Day permanently discoloring the front inch and half my sandal, but probably y the worst part of the hall was jab to the ribs which bruised them pretty bad and is still makes its hard to sleep 2 weeks later.

4 miles into the race! 

I wanted to quit.  If my house was right around corner maybe I would have, but I was in Mexico and I was here to run.  I was in for a long day I new it would be a struggle to finish but I could endure a day of agony and if do finish somebody less fortunate than me would receive a voucher 500 pounds of grain.  That was all the incentive I needed.

Initially when I fell a bunch of runners stopped to try and help (make sure I wasn't broken) I appreciated the solidarity but their was nothing they could do and I wouldn't get a chance to clean my wounds until after the race.  I sucked it up got back on my feet (found one of my water bottles about 40 feet down the trail) I got back to running.  Surprisingly as banged up as I was my legs still felt quite functional.  I found a decent pace but was now running with apprehension and much less confidence.

A mile later I hit the turn around at the first aid station in kind of daze.  I was running right behind the first place gringo and wanted to catch him but just could seem to close the distance.  This stretch was kind of fun because I got to see all my friends  heading to the checkpoint.  In a race like this us 35 or so Gringo's were deffinetly a huge minority but  with this came solidarity and it was great to have some people I could cheer on in English (my Spanish sucks)

I got back to the bridge still averaging under an 8 minute pace, there I saw Leah offering aid but I flew right passed her still wanting to catch that gringo in front of me.  The next few miles were up hill but on fire roads.  I kept an okay pace and caught up with the dude in front just as we hit the single track trail.  The next 3 miles were real steep and real technical.  My pace immediately slowed, and tons of runners began to pass.  After about a mile of snails pass running Nick (7th place finisher last year) came cruising by  (I thought he would pass me much sooner but he knows the course way better than I (he's also a much smarter and experienced runner) Nick looked strong I wished him well but he didn't need it.


Bridge we passed along the way

During this climb a couple strange things happened I was passed by a few runners in Jeans (wow) and even came a cross a runner who was smoking (I've heard it opens up your capillaries).  I was carrying two water bottles (I think the gringos were the only ones that started the race with water) and was running low.  Many times during the race I saw people suffering and shared my water.  I passed a guy who was suffering more than I and offered him a sip when he asked.  I think the though my other bottle was full because when I got my bottle back it was empty.  I kept climbing thirsty and beat up, salty sweat was starting to seep into my wounds ,  (covered in dirt and blood I was a mess)  Just before getting to the top of the mountain and about 6 minutes behind his brother Jamil caught up with me and was gone in no time.

The way back down was one of the few spots on the course I did not get to scope beforehand.  I was hoping it would be pretty gradual but it was not.  My psyche could not survive another fall.  I was going downhill at about an 8-9:30 pace (ridiculous)  I have a lot to learn and was thoroughly impressed with the way in which the Tarahumara sailed passed me in their beefy Huarache sandals.  Many of them also carried sticks for maintaining balance
(next year I may carry only one bottle and a trekking pole or a stick)

Covered in blood and dirt I hide my agony with a smile as I come down the hill at the end of the first loop loop around mile 20
About a half mile before this pic was taken I thought I felt a rock caught up in the tape on the arch of my left foot (the foot that doesnt really need tape in the first place) I jabbed my right index finger in without looking to disloge it but too my suprise I found a finger full of puss (gross)  damn it.  I thought to myself I better get this stupid tape off me asap. I stopped running an started to rip the tape at quick as possible to prevent it from getting worse.  In my hast I jabbed my fingernail into the wound and puss became blood.
 (I laughed at myself, what else could I do)


I filled up my bottles at the bridge and grabbed a cup of pinole.  At this point I was was still on maybe 8 hour finishing pace.  It was nice to get on some more even terrain as I ran back towards Urique.  About a half mile out of tow I was joined by about 5 local kids that were between the ages 5 and 10 we were on a gentile downslope and they were keeping up with me pretty easily (i'm not sure if that means they were fast or that I was slow) I thought it was pretty cool and it made me smile the whole back into the city.

I felt like a celebrity going through town.  Everyone was out in front of their businesses cheering on the runners.  I saw a few friends who I'd met throw out the week who wished me well along my little buddy Syed who I heard screaming "Paticio."  In town I had a drop bag where I picked up a few tabs of NUUN and a baggies full of Dates.

The support was Invigorating, rejuvenating my attitude and desire to race.  I left town running at an accelerated pace.  The next stretch was 6 relatively easy miles that I needed to make up some time on.  I turned on my Mp3 player figuring it had enough batteries to last the last 28 miles of the race and began to rock out some reggae.


The weather was heating up and my wounds seemed to be cauterizing in the sun. They still hurt but they were bearable.  My big toe was full of dirt but strangely caused no grief.  I was able to get a little rhythm going but the poke to the ribs was now a facer in preventing me from getting a deep breathe in and  was forced to slow down.

Eventually I made it too the suspension bridge.  At the time The Gogol Bordello (my favorite Band) was playing pretty loud from my speaker all the workers at the station got it kick of my Gypsy Punk music and I left them running on the Bridge Like a kid on Tom Sawyers Island Disneyland.

It was now time to start climbing, almost immediately I took a few awkward steps really hurting my right foot. I got frustrated as my body would no longer run during the 3 mile hike upwards I only ran a few steps and was passed by a lot of people including the eventual first and second place women.  

Grapefruits at the top?

Nope not for me.  I'm not the type who ever stays at aid station for more than a minute.  I think I maybe spent 10 seconds before I was hobbling back down the mountain.  I still felt very uncomfortable trying to run and was starting to do the math in my head of how long it would take me to finish the race if were to walk the final 18 to 20 miles, which I feared I may be relegated to do.
About a mile down the hill I passed a bunch of Gringos' going up including Patt, Crystal and Caballo Blanco, and by the time I got to the bottom I was passed by first Patt and Crystal.
I got back across the bridge at a snails pace by now the sun was scorching.  I decided to embrace the heat (reports from peoples watches said it was over 100 degrees)


The terrain was simple and was able to find a trot.  With each step I felt stronger and my speed increased.  I caught up to many  of the people who passed me on the climb including  Crystal. I passed Bookis and Shawn both going the other direction and it was nice to see them some more friendly faces including Maria, Laurie Suman,  and Pat Mcgee.

  During this stretch I experienced a strange sensation.  Flies eating the dried blood off my wounds.  (at least my misery was feeding somethings belly I guess)
At one point I was cruising down a hill and had to stop so that some Mexican guy could take a picture of the gringo in sandals.  I was honored and more than happy to oblige.


As I approached town I could see Patt in my Radar.  I accelerated and joined him as we got some gear from our drop bags.  Leah was their to help me fill my bottles and Patt and I Left town stride for stride. Before I left him in the dust for about 30 minutes

The final ten miles of the course were the same as the first.  I got across the new bridge in pretty good time.  It was time to start climbing and things went south for me once again.  The whole day I thought had taken pretty good care of my hydration drinking close to 20 bottles worth of fluid with plenty of electrolytes.  Now whenever I would start to run I had extreme pain in my bladder.  I had a desire to pee but my body was miserable.  of all the stupid things to nag me during the race this was the worst. Nothing like this had ever happened to me and I was a bit scared.  

I managed to hobble mostly mostly walk to the aid station Both Patt and Crystal regained theirs leads over me  plus a ton of other runners.  I just had to tough it out for five more miles.  On the way back Carlo passed me going the other way I figured I could hold him off till the finish but I was barely moving.  

I was about 2 and haldf miles from the finish line about to cross the bridge for the final time when here comes Carlo all smiles and looking strong (while strong in respect to the pitiful state I was in) I was impressed at how quickly he had caught to me and told him and told him I would see him at the finish line. He got about 1/4 of mile in front when I decided at the bridge to try spinning the legs one last time.  Surprisingly they agreed  and my urinary discomfort had gone away.  My pace quickened I felt like I was doing about a 6 minute mile (that only because I was going so slow just minutes before)  The terrain is very modest during this stretch and I found a rythem as I sailed past Carlo and approached the city limits


Upon my my very first step into town my theme song began to play on the tiny speaker of my MP3 player

(that's what my ears selectively hear)

I was running hard as I searched for the finish line.  Where is it?  a big crowd was standing in the street and I didn't really know where to stop.  Out of the blue I spotted some dude with a clip board and no watch. I guess he was the finish line?  He wrote down my name but no time (kind of odd)  My watch read something around 10:02 but my official time was a few minutes later.  Ted and Leah were both there to greet me.  Ted was already showered and recovered 22 miles was all he felt his body needed and I think he made the right decision.


I was still very concerned about my urinary problems (I have heard some horror stories).  I decided my first course of action (probably Ill advised by an MD) would be to pound a beer and see if that would get things going.  within 5 minutes of finishing, my beer was purchased, drank and I was happily peeing.
Success.

 my favorite picture from the trip

Here I stand most likely the bloodiest and dirtiest runner to finish the race.  I am totally spent.  Proud of efforts to finish I am not disappointed in the way things turned out. Sometimes things don';t go your way and you have to deal with it. (you get what you get and you don't get upset)  Not every day is going to as planned and although I suffered quite a bit of misfortune during the race I am very greatful for the experience.  
thank you to Luna Sandals for making a dream of mine a reality

As much as I needed it.  I really did not look forward to taking a shower and cleaning my wounds.  We still had no water but Nubia graciously allowed me use her facilities

Sandals after the race

great Huaraches bu not the perfect model for the race
Having a a heavier sandal would not have been a problem. I'm thinking a 3 layer sandal would be perfect
Leadville grip Neoprene middle, with a Thick leather or Equus top.

After I cleaned up I headed back down to watch my friends cross the finish line and do a little schmoozing.



I go my Picture with the winner a Local kid from Urique

I don't think the Champ is use to his newly celebrity.  Doesn't he look thrilled to have his picture taken with me.


First place women

She was real sweet, on the course and off she was always smiling.  Theres nothing wrong with being competitive during a race but  what really  impresses me is when some one can be successful while gaining strength from their postive attitude and a big smile.

Congrats to Nick and Jamil for finishing together in 7th place

They graciously donated their winnings to the runners who beat them in Huaraches.
Nice.

Jess and I
(such a sweat heart)
We enjoyed a beer together after the race
(I think Guadajuko was jealous)
Jess was the only Gringa wearing Luna sandals in the race

Check out how cool those Ledville's look on her feet.

Syed is the man

This little dude stuck to us like glue the whole trip.  He was as sweet as can be (and I'm not just saying that because hes handing me a beer in this pic) I hope that someday in the future I will running the CCUM along his side and will be able to hand him a a beer afterwards
.
After as few beer I began to have flash backs of the morning.  Check out the Uncanny similarities between Ravi's before and after race pose  (totally coincidental)
Congrads on finishing your first 50



Hatrick of Patricks

My buddy Pat Mcgee (center) was sitting on the curb in front of Mama Titaa's restaurant for like 45 minutes in the same postion with a smile on his face before My other fellow Patt (with 2 t's) and I decided to join him.



Pat ended up Death marching the last 10 miles with Laurie (center).
Way to tough it out guys.


3rd place woman Crystal

Way to go Crystal scoring fat check which she donated to the Tarahumara girl behind her and to a family Diego introduced us to whose father was murdered.

You rock Crystal!


Carlo Hanging with the second place woman from Japan after the race

Somehow how I missed Bookis crossing the finshline.  When I last saw him on the course he looked strong and I'm sure that's how he finished.  
Shortly after finding Bookis Shawn came in via a ride from a support vehicle.  By the time he got to mile 45 it was pitch dark and he felt it was too dangerous to continue. 
(Good Call)

Awards Ceremony

The awards ceremony was going on while runners were still finishing.  It was all in Spanish and hard to follow  many of the Gringo's didn't even realize it was going on. At one point I they said something about International finishers coming up to the stage. I may have been the only one that heard this because when I walked up their it was just me and Caballo.  I told him that I wanted my 500 lbs of grain to go to the school where we had the ball race.


I was still standing on the side of the stage when the Mexican finishers were asked to come up. Since I was standing next to the stars I helped about 20 of them climb on up (I felt honored to have that privilege) and when they were all up I snuck down and snapped this blurry picture



I'm not sure what time we got back to the room but I think I was in bed by midnight.  I was beat and could not find any position in which my ribs didn;t ache and wounds didn't rub on the sheets.  We had to get up early in the morning to pack for our return trip 
(it wasn't very hard because I only slept a wink or two.

We headed down to Mama Tita's for one last meal

Ted had Found Manuel Luna and treated him to Breakfast.
It was good to meet Mr. Luna he seemed healthy and happy to be in Ted's presence.

Ted left his business card in the window

We still had a few minutes to kill before our van was to leave

Nacho the rattle maker

This guy does it all makes, huaraches violins, rattles and could probably hook you up with a timeshare in Florida 


We decided to check in with our families to tell them we survived the race


Ted sharing  the magic of the Iphone with the Tarahumara

They really dug it

I sure hope they don't all have Iphones next year

Arnolfo

Looking out the back of the My last image of Urique was the site of Arnolfo with his children getting ready to embark of their own Journey back home to Batopilas.  as it turns out I finished the race exactly how I started it right behind Arnolfo


Some of us hopped in the van some rode on top
(I would of really liked to go on top but my ribs would not let me)
Ted and Leah took the top of the Van all the way to Creel

Urique a view from above

Basically the race ran up and down every one those mountains



This would be a cool place to play catch with a frisbee.


Laurie tried to bring Nacho home as a souvenir. but he jumped ship at Creel. to hike back down to Batopilas



 In creel most of the van stopped for Lunch.  I still needed to pick up some souvenirs for the family
plus a few wooden balls to race with back home.  I took a picture of the restaurant we stopped at in case I got lost.
Upon reviewing my photo it seems the A-team were also dining there

In the states you can pick up the balls 9 for a quater at your local Chuckie Cheese but in Creel they cost a whopping 15 pesos.

Back in the van Patt began to serenade us with some songs from his childhood before and eventually the whole van was singing
Lollipop Tree together
Like the Flintstones we were having a gay old time.

On the way back home we stopped in that town with out a name once again and stayed in the same hotel.  We didn't arrive until pretty late and needed to find some food. After wandering a bit we ended up at an
Ice Cream / Nacho /  corn
Vendor
I ended up with a bowl of fruit and a cup of warm corn for dinner.


Another night barely sleeping and it was back on road back to El Paso. The line at the boarder was pretty long and we had a flight to catch

When we got searched pretty good at the boarder and had too take all the luggage off the top of the van.
We were a little concerned about not making our flight but were fine.

It turns out Bookis Leah, Ted Patt and I were all on the same flight back to Phoenix and I had the seat next to Patt.

a short 60 minute flight from Phoenix and I was back to the city of
Angels


It was nice to be home 
and the very next day I was on the beach training for my first
 Rarajipari

Its now been 2 weeks a since the race I have been  a bit under the weather since my return my ribs are still killing me but getting slightly better.  I have ran everyday and most of wounds are healing well with the occasional trickle of blood from a scab or to, lol.  What a mess.  I have become.  My legs feel great and my muscles feel strong

 (I don't think anyone has ever told me my muscles look strong.  )  


the first race I ever signed up for back in 2000

Today I ran in the LA Marathon 
and
Much like 2000 in poured rain
but 
I'm done typing for now you will have to wait another week for that post


"Hasta La Vista"
Bourbon

7 comments:

  1. Dude, one of the best race reports ever. Im so pissed I couldnt make it back down there this year with all you guys.

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  2. Awesome write-up...been checking back often waiting for it!

    What an experience, congrats and looking forward to your next adventure!

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  3. Agreed, Best race report ever! Me and Bookis are going to be practicing kicking that bola around. I can't wait to play rarajipari!

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  4. Brilliant. Thanks for the report. Ross.

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  5. What an incredible adventure! Thanks for sharing! : )

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  6. Amazing story. As someone who just started running, I'm truly inspired by how you dealt with the early fall and how you finished the race. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Thanks for this Pat!!

    I'm a tad obsessed with tarahumara, CCUM and "Caballo Blanco" so I was in awe of your adventure!
    Thanks for this bird's eye view. AMAZING!

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