Richard Verstegan 5 a.m., March 12
The White Horse is Dead
Caballo Blanco’s body was found on March 31st in New Mexico’s Gila National Forrest. When Caballo disappeared, several friends and admirers flocked to New Mexico to assist in the search.
His body was found up a creek far from any trail. The autopsy revealed that Caballo Blanco had died of heart disease.
Who was Caballo Blanco? For anyone who read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, Caballo Blanco became the epitome of the soul runner.
He seemed a mythical figure who haunted Mexico’s Copper Canyons guarding the tender flame of pure running. The book became a huge success and Blanco became an immediate celebrity.
Caballo Blanco’s name was Micah True. Micah True was a mythical figure before he went native in the Copper Canyons.
After rambling around the country, True semi-settled in Boulder, Colorado. He spent six months out of the year as a furniture mover/mountain runner. As winter approached he would head to Guatemala to run in their mountains.
It was the Guatemalan villagers who gave Micah the handle of Caballo Blanco, the White Horse.
In 1993 Blanco ran the Leadville 100. The course covers 100 miles of Rocky Mountain terrain. Its lowest elevation is 9,200 feet. The ’93 edition of the Leadville was special because three men from Mexico took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
So what? These men were from pre-Columbian Mexico. They were Stone Age runners in loin clothes and blousy shirts. Their running shoes were sandals fashioned from old tires they had pulled out of the Leadville dump. They ran with smiles on their faces that only got bigger as the slopes got steeper.
Blanco was intrigued and followed these Tarahumara runners back to the Copper Canyons for his annual six month sojourns. During his years in the canyons, Blanco developed a love of the Tarahumara lifestyle and longed to help preserve their culture of running.
He organized the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon (CCUM) as a tool to provide food to the Tarahumara. The prizes were paid out in corn.
After Born to Run, the race achieved legendary status and runners from around the world lusted for a chance to run with the Tarahumara. Blanco always remained humble about his contributions and even avoided referring to himself in the first person.
“Caballo Blanco is no hero. Not a great anything. Just a Horse of a little different color dancing to the beat of a peaceful drum and wanting to help make a little difference in some lives.”
Micah True died in the wilderness at the age of 58. There was no other way for him to go home.
“We are the messengers, fueled by the message. When the message is of peace, truth, beauty, and love, we will always have the strength to find our way home, on this, our beautiful Mother Earth.”