“Some Said Caballo Blanco Was A Fugitive; Others Heard He Was A Boxer Who’d Run Off To Punish Himself After Beating A Man To Death”

The human body is so much more resilient than we suppose, but it was not made for ultra-running, at least not in the long term. Leaving marathons in the dust, ultra-running competitions don’t just tax the body, they repossess it, as they stretch for dozens of miles across unforgiving terrain. Micah True, nicknamed “Caballo Blanco,” one of the competition’s pioneers, was found dead two weeks ago, enveloped in the shocking beauty of New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness. From his obituary in the Telegraph:

“A former prizefighter who once lived in a cave in Hawaii, True regularly ran distances of more than 50 miles over steep and rocky trails and, under the name Caballo Blanco (‘White Horse’) was a central character in Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run (2009). As McDougall told it, the mysterious ‘Caballo’ became an almost mythic figure in the villages of Mexico’s Sierra Madre when he moved to live there in the mid-1990s: ‘Some said Caballo Blanco was a fugitive; others heard he was a boxer who’d run off to punish himself after beating a man to death in the ring. No one knew his name, age or where he was from.’ A village schoolmaster McDougall spoke to recalled that some of his pupils had been herding goats in the mountains when a ‘weird creature” with the shape of a man, but taller than any man they had ever seen and ‘deathly pale and bony as a corpse… with shocks of flame-coloured hair jutting out of his skull.’ had darted through the trees above them. The village elders thought it must be a dead soul, out to clear up some unfinished business.

On one matter, however, all accounts of Caballo Blanco concurred. He had come to northern Mexico in the 1990s and trekked deep into the wild, impenetrable Barrancas del Cobre, the ‘Copper Canyons,’ to live among the Tarahumara Indians, an enigmatic desert tribe famous for their ability to keep going over long distances. McDougall described how True had overcome athletic injuries to his ankles after learning a new way to run wearing the simple thin-soled sandals favoured by the Tarahumara. While testing them out ‘he’d slip-scramble sprint downhill for miles, barely in control, relying on his canyon-honed reflexes but still awaiting the pop of knee cartilage, the rip of a hamstring, the fiery burn of a torn Achilles tendon he knew was coming any second.’ But it never came.” (Thanks Browser.)


Micah True, Pack Burro Race, Colorado, 2011: