November 27, 2015

Back From The Barrancas

I had a weird summer, you know. Between hard personal decisions and a nagging little injury, my spirit was weighed down by many thoughts and questions. A lot of those gravitated around a place I love, a place I had come to consider a second home; Urique. I spent many moments wondering how my friends were doing, how the overall situation was and about what the future would hold for this running paradise.

So when the opportunity arose for me to travel back down to the Barrancas, even though for a very short trip, I packed my bag in a heartbeat.

On the road with a truckload of giggling chicas :)
Ever since Michael Miller and I drove out of Urique with heavy hearts, we both swore we would be back no matter what. As the year was slowly nearing its end, Michael told me he had received some positive news from the other side of the border and that there was a window of about a week where not only we could go, but we would also be joined by our good friend Patrick Sweeney, who’d just finished another awesome feat of endurance by running the Chicago Marathon, then running to New York City and running the NYC Marathon as well, Forrest Gump-style.

The positivity started from the get-go. Seeing Sweeney was a real treat, and getting to road trip with two of my best running friends put a huge smile of my face. Even though we red-eyed it all the way, there was still room for happy-hour shenanigans, breathtaking runs and hot pepper shopping.

Beautiful morning run atop Creel
Everywhere we looked, traversing Mexico’s northwest from the Arizona border all the way down to Creel, things seemed pretty quiet and relax. There was only a single roadblock on the whole way, which can only mean that things have cooled down quite significantly.

The magic of the Canyons started for me as soon as we reached Mario’s cabins, nested on a magnificent promontory in San Isidro, where our Raramuri friend Horacio was waiting to take us on an evening run to the rim. Although I have traveled to many places in the Sierra, the canyon top is one of the places I have been the least so I was delighted to discover the trails that lead to Cerro Gallego, the Urique overlook, as well as the gorgeous creek trail that descends into the village of Porochi, where both Miguel and Horacio live. We came back at sunset, just in time for drinks by the bonfire Mario had lit for us. It was perfect.

Caba├▒as San Isidro, our friend Mario's gorgeous ranch

We set out the next morning, on foot, and descended unto Urique through rugged, ancient trails that are sometimes etched into the boulders by centuries of travel. I was shocked at the amount – and steepness! of the climbs that lead to the rim before the descent begins. On the way, Horacio was generous with information on local farmsteads, connecting trails and meaningful landmarks. Our spirits were high and we felt how specially meaningful it was for us all to be coming again to Urique, on foot, together, using the ancient trails of the People we respect and celebrate.

On the way down to Urique
After a rather difficult hike, we emerged in Urique to the symbolic chant of mourning doves. It brought me a sense of peace and closure, and a strong feeling of being back home. We met with our friends in the government and exchanged meaningful words, united in wishing to perpetuate the running tradition Caballo Blanco created.

Walking to the gate at Entre Amigos almost brought tears to my eyes. The place looks as beautiful as ever, and our friends Maruca and Tomas were waiting for us, all smiles, like they were welcoming their own family. Seeing that beautiful garden once again, and the trees loaded with fruits, was a true joy.

And just when things couldn’t get any better, our friend Prospero and his wife Sabina showed up to give us great news about the Caballo Blanco Trail Project and share even more ideas for the future.

We will be back, Barrancas!
Of course, things are not perfect in the Barrancas. They never were. There are crimes committed frequently all over the Sierra. The people’s struggle with violence is very real and must not be forgotten. But as things stand right now, relative peace appears to have returned, people are back to their daily occupations, and life seems to go on.

Although the race we’ve known and loved will now be an event organized and promoted by Urique, as a runner and as a friend of the Running People, I will be back in March. And so will others.

And that’s a really good thing.

You can follow our work at Norawas de Raramuri on our official website,

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