Born Free, Born To Run: The Tarahumara of Northern Mexico
Known for their extraordinary feat (or should that be feet?) of endurance running the Tarahumara Tribe call themselves Rarámuri which means those who run fast. They left off three words after fast: ‘and ultra distances’.
How so? Just what makes them special and what could we learn as some of us train, daily and donkey like around the track? Doubtless, they are special due to a bit of genetics and likely their rugged terrain helps, their hilly lands are no Holland but with no dykes to keep them watered either. What seems to make them really hardy are ingrained social habits coupled with their slow release natural diets. They are literally born to run, and even smile while covering huge distances – right into and throughout old age. Not content with mere running they often deftly kick a wooden ball as they go: aiding balance, foot strength and suppleness. With a lack of nearby Nike shops they often go barefoot or opt for a traditional sandal with its simple around the ankle laces, to ensure a ‘snug fit’.
When more pampered endurance athletes rock up, they are in for a basic shock. Fresh out of gels and the assorted sports drinks favoured by their guests, the Rarámuri more than get by on chia seeds and water. Chia seeds can hold 12 times their own weight in water and release their Omega 3 fats, fibres and proteins steadily throughout the day, and night, and the next day, and the next night too, if needed. 200 miles is more than a stroll in the park, but it’s still 100 miles less than they can run – even more if really pushed. There’s endurance and then there’s these guys – naturally going beyond showing off and never a whiff of needing a blood sample test. Historically they ran to convey messages and also to hunt. Nowadays, to the Tarahumara, running remains a joyous and spiritual experience enabling them to be truly in the moment – it is their drug of choice.
We may have lost a bit of that in our world; while that ever hopeful accountant next door heads off for his twice weekly jog around the block – prior to rehydration with three pints of heavy and a bag of crisps down the pub. Meanwhile, running is what makes a Rarámuri a pure Rarámuri.