Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Tarahumara Marathon - Copper Canyon
Waiting for the race at Real de Minas Hotel in Batopilas!
I found out about a Tarahumara Marathon in the heart of the Copper Canyon at a website by Micah True, Copper Canyon winter resident and mountain guide. It sounded like a lot of fun and I signed up. No other gringo entered the race. The course leaves Batopilas, heads over the mountains and ends up in Urique.
The Copper Canyon is actually a network of five major canyons, each with a river in the bottom, that are four times the volume of the Grand Canyon, and deeper. It's located southwest of Chihuahua and the Copper Canyon Train runs along the rim from Chihuahua to Los Mochis.
Ready for the start!
When the race started, I only saw the Tarahumaras and Micah for a few blocks as we left town and for the next thirty miles it was just me and the mountains. They were all waiting at the finish line for me though.
Micah conducts the Pre-race meeting!
The guys weren't carrying any food, water, or other survival gear. To them, a thirty mile jaunt across the mountains was no big deal. I carried everything I thought I'd need to spend a night in the mountains at high elevation.
The trail passed under the cliffs on the left and continued up and over the mountain.
The rancho owned by Propero Torres sits in the valley. Growing corn, raising goats, and living off the land is a satisfying life for Prospero and his family.
The kitchen at Los Alisos!
Sofia grinds corn on the matate!
The trail as it winds around the ridge on the left. There were no course markings or aid stations along the way, so I carried a GPS receiver and logged a track on the Pre-hike. I think I would have been lost in those mountains without it.
The finish line in Urique!
I was pretty well exhausted after being on the trail for ten hours. I had trained really hard for the race and was in pretty good shape.
The Tarahumaras ran it in five and one half hours. They all finished within thirty minutes of each other.
Here we are in front of the restaurant belonging to Jose Quintana. Jose also has a nice hotel (Estrella del Rio) where we spent the night.
Typical Tarahumara cave dwelling! Many of the fifty thousand Tarahumaras that live in the Copper Canyon live in dwellings similar to this. Most of them build cute log cabins and live dispersed throughout the huge canyon system.
The overlook at Divisadero! Probably the most well known tourist stop in Copper Canyon. The world-famous Copper Canyon train always stops here for "photo Ops" and to drop off tourists staying at the beautiful hotel sitting on the rim.