A First Look at Reopened Caballo Blanco Trail - Page 2
Panoramic from the trail. Photo by Francois Bordeau.
Micah and Prospero shared a vision of encouraging the Tarahumara, or Raramuri, people to keep running free and to continue their age-old traditions as “the running people.” In 2002, Micah created the inaugural Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon (renamed the Ultra Maratón Caballo Blanco after his death in 2012), a rugged route between Urique and Batopilas.
Prospero joined Dona “Mama Tita” Quintana, the proprietor of La Plaza Restaurante and La Estrella del Rio Hotel, to become the first sponsors of Micah’s race. Prospero helped maintain the racecourse trail and set up an aid station of water, fresh fruit, tortillas and pinole, while Mama Tita provided complimentary lodging and meals for Raramuri runners.
Unfortunately, the original race course was plagued for several years by a local bandit who would assault and rob travelers along the trail. Though the Bandito was eventually arrested, locals became afraid to hike or run there anymore. The government also no longer offered compensation for trail maintenance on the route. Micah—concerned about the safety of the Raramuri and participants in his race—relocated the race to trails around Urique, where it continues today.
Last February, Prospero and his team constructed a permanent shrine for Caballo Blanco, with personal mementos and photographs of their shared dreams. The shrine is more than a memorial. It has become a new symbol of Prospero’s vision and the seal of a new partnership with Norawas de Raramuri, (“Friends of the Running People”), the non-profit organization his friend Caballo Blanco helped create in 2009.
Norawas is a US-based nonprofit that supports Raramuri participation in local and international foot races by providing maize, non-GMO seed corn and cash awards for participating Raramuri runners, men and women alike. Together with Prospero, they are reviving the original course of the very first Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon, creating a world-class trail for international adventurers and reopening a vital link for locals between the canyons of Urique and Batopilas.
While the Ultra Maratón Caballo Blanco itself will remain on local trails around Urique, the original route—the Caballo Blanco Trail—is being restored for the year-round enjoyment and benefit of locals and travelers alike.
Local Raramuri helping restore the trail. Photo by Francois Bourdeau.
Like many Raramuri, Prospero is a man of few words. But, a year ago, sitting with Norawas board members in his ranch of Los Alisos, he very eloquently explained his idea of reopening the legendary route, honoring his friend's memory and reconnecting two canyons. If we could help, he said, this would be both a great adventure tourism project and a powerful symbol that the Raramuri culture, with its tradition of traveling by foot, was alive and well.
With the help of the Mas Locos (a term coined by Micah to describe the “crazy people” who came to run his race) and donations from around the world, Norawas gathered the funds and launched the project in December 2013. The trail is rugged and steep, very rocky—just as Micah’s diary described it. From the Los Alisos ranch, the trail shoots up the canyon walls and follows ancient footpaths all the way to the very top, at a scenic point called Mesa Isidros. There, with the high summit winds weaving through the trees, adventure runners and Raramuris alike can contemplate the sheer magnificence of the Urique Canyon, hundreds of miles of breathtaking scenery.
A short video of author Francois Bourdeau following Prospero Torres up a stretch of the new trail.