On over­drive

Women from Mex­i­can re­gion win long-dis­tance races

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

GUACHOCHI, Mico — In old indige­nous Latin Amer­i­can cul­tures, women toil at farm­ing and tackle fam­ily du­ties. Atop this re­mote Mex­i­can moun­tain, they also slap on san­dals and crush pro ath­letes on long-dis­tance runs.

Talk about ex­treme sports: the Rara­muri peo­ple — part of the Aztec fam­ily — over five cen­turies ago fled up the moun­tains of Chi­huahua state to stay safe from Span­ish in­vaders. There they stayed.

Over the years they have be­come cliff-dwellers, of­ten sleep­ing in caves.

But they also are mov­ing their an­i­mals along con­stantly — and as part of their no­madic life­style learned to mas­ter truly ex­treme longdis­tance runs.

This year’s Canyons Ultramarathon brought to­gether more than 1,000 com­peti­tors from around the world — Rus­sia, Canada, the United States, Ecuador and Spain — to take on the steep slopes of the Sin­forosa range of the Tarahu­mara moun­tains in the Sierra Madre Oc­ci­den­tal.

With the wail of “weringa” which means “on­ward” in their lan­guage, run­ners were off. They bat­tled it out in the men’s and women’s 63-kilo­me­ter and 100-kilo­me­ter con­tests from Fri­day through Sun­day.

The re­sults: all four races swept by Rara­muri (which means Light of Feet) tal­ent.

The course was not some man­i­cured grass pitch; the trail — which fol­lows moun­tain ridges — is clot­ted with mud, rocks and even takes run­ners over a tra­di­tional wo­ven sus­pen­sion bridge.

While some com­peti­tors were decked out in high-tech gear to ab­sorb sweat or avoid fric­tion, lo­cal cham­pi­ons stuck mostly to their tra­di­tional gear.

It fa­mously in­cludes san­dals hand-carved out of old car tires and their cen­turiesold hand­wo­ven shirts, pet­ti­coats and scarves, for women, and a slightly lighter out­fit for their men.

“We re­ally don’t have to do a lot to train. Be­cause since we don’t have cars, we walk or run ev­ery­where,” said Miguel Lara, 27, who won the 100-kilo­me­ter race in nine hours and 46 min­utes. His record is eight hours and 47 min­utes.

The lo­cals are at­tached to tra­di­tion, but clearly are not afraid of in­no­va­tion.

At some point in the past, ob­vi­ously, some­one shifted from san­dals made of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als for run­ning, to re­cy­cled tire tread san­dals with a light strap.

Per­haps Lara’s shoe spon­sor­ship con­tract could go to Miche­lin.

JOSE LUIS GON­ZA­LEZ / REUTERS

An indige­nous Tarahu­mara run­ner takes part in a half marathon along the streets in Guachochi, Mex­ico, on Sun­day.

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