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The passing of a legend – Caballo Blanco
April 1, 2012 - John Stack
Just this week, a true original, a truly authentic legend passed away. My Zen run master, Micah 'Caballo Blanco' True at the young age of 58. Micah was what true running is really about. His philosophy was 'Run easy, light, smoooooth, happy...and run free! Andale !' He was the ultramarathoner's ultramarathoner. Like the Harley Motto, he 'ran to live, and lived to run'. He didn't run for fame or glory. He just ran.
Micah True was a preety good college runner. He excelled at long distances. After college, he started running longer and longer races, competing well as an ultra-marathoner (50 mile and 100 mile trail runs). About 20 years ago, he volunteered to be a 'pacer' at the grand daddy of ultras, the Leadville 100. There he met the Taramuhar (or Rarimari) a secretive group of Mexican Indians who's trail running prowess is legendary. They live in the most desolate, nforgiving desert canyons imaginable. No running water. Little contact with the outside world, bu the best natural long distance runners anywhere. Caballo decided this was for him. He crossed down into Mexico and lived , not among, but near the Rarimari. No one knew where he really lived. He made his money – no one knows how. Friends with everyone, and surviving on a type of cornmeal and Mexican bootleg type energy juice.
True started to just run everywhere. All over that god forsaken land, wearing the minimalist of running gear possible. Not truly barefoot, but the closest thing to it. He would choose to run whatever he felt. One day, 11 miles the next 30 miles. All on mountain trails through the Copper Canyons and around. Not trails most people could handle on a hike with full pack. He normally had maybe a water bottle with him. He was rarely ever injured. One giant irony is he twisted his ankle badly he wore some new trail running shoes his friend Christopher McDougal gave him as a gift. McDougal wrote about (and popularized) Caballo Blanco through his book 'Born to Run'.
I've been a runner for over 30 years. My start as a runner was in Jr High in Mohawk. I broke the jr high record in the mile (since broken by Alan Webb). Like Steve Prefontain, I didn't even know my times, I just pushed to win. I ran the Boilermaker a few times in high school – no real understanding on how to run, just ran the 15K as fast as I could for as long as I could. Even after moving up here, I got bit by the Ironman bug (like so many others). I knew exactly how far just about everything was. I could guess my pace within a few seconds I was so involved in it. I can tell you I ran 165 strides per minute at an average of 162 beats per minute. I used inspirational tactics like knowing my sister Kathy was coming up from Tampa just to see me run, as well as my brother and mother in Tennessee. I didn't want to disappoint them is why I was running in 2 feet of snow around Moody Pond in December 2004. After the Ironman, I was injured for a long time. Foot problems. I started running in earnest a couple years ago. No goal, just running with Phil Gallo for whatever. We had no plans other than to ...run. Yeah, we did a lot of races, but the times were immaterial. Then we did the Dannemora Ultramarathon. Neither cared about the time. Except, we had a heck of a time! Recently, I read 'Born to Run'. Phil turned me on to the book. Both of us really could identify with Caballo Blanco. Yeah, we are preparing for another ultra (The Wakely Dam Ultra) but we are enjoying the training more than ever. Running up at the VIC? Bets running trails there are. We run 10-12 miles over at John Brown/Henry's woods. Now, we have another convert, Beth. We run to enjoy it. We take walking breaks whenever someone feels like they need one. We stop to take in the views at the Knob at top of Henry's Woods. Or the moon over the swamps on the D&H. Today, running at Mt Van Ho, we checked out Cascade Mountain as it came into view around a corner in the trail. I wish Icould have met Caballo Blanco. That was a guy who knew what it was really about. He even started a yearly race in Copper Canyon, attracting the world's greatest ultra-runners and hundreds of Taramuhari. The prizes were cash, and hudreds of kilos of corn. Virtually all the gringos would turn over their money and corn back to help out the Rarimari. Micah True. Caballo Blanco. He was a one of a kind. A real hero. As authentic as they come. And we are all better off knowing of him, and the world is worse off with him gone. 'Run easy, light, smoooooth, happy...and run free! Andale !'
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