Light of Feet crush pro ath­letes in long-dis­tance run

The Times (South Africa) - - WORLD -

IN THE indige­nous cul­tures of Latin Amer­ica, women both toil at farm­ing and tackle fam­ily du­ties. And, atop a re­mote Mex­i­can moun­tain, they also out­per­form pro­fes­sional ath­letes on long-dis­tance runs.

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

Over the years they have be­come cliff-dwellers, of­ten sleep­ing in caves. But they also move their an­i­mals along con­stantly — and, as part of their no­madic life­style, have learned to master ex­treme long-dis­tance runs.

This year’s Canyons Ul­tra­ma­rathon brought to­gether more than 1 000 com­peti­tors from around the world — Rus­sia, Canada, the US, 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 the Rara­muri lan­guage, the run­ners were off. They bat­tled it out in the men’s and women’s 63km and 100km con­tests from Fri­day to Sun­day af­ter­noon. The re­sults: all four races were won by Rara­muri (which means “Light of Feet”).

The course fol­lowed moun­tain ridges and is clot­ted with mud and rocks. It even takes run­ners over a wo­ven sus­pen­sion bridge.

The na­tive run­ners’ kit in­cludes san­dals hand-carved out of old car tyres.

“We don’t have to do a lot to train — be­cause we don’t have cars, we walk or run ev­ery­where,” said Miguel Lara, 27, who won the 100km sprint in nine hours and 46 min­utes. —

Pic­ture: JOSE LUIS GON­ZA­LEZ/ REUTERS

ON THE GO: An indige­nous Tarahu­mara run­ner takes part in a half­marathon along the streets in Gua­chochi, Mex­ico

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