On Running With Abandon and the Death of Micah True
(a little off-topic, but I like to think of this as something of a personal blog as well as a wedding blog… right?)
While driving home on Friday, I was struck by the sad news that Micah True (or “Caballo Blanco,” the central figure in the story I lauded just weeks ago) had died. The news hit me hard, because I had truly been so inspired by his life and his love of running. I was a little late to the news and, sadly, it seems I was a little late to his story… but I will be forever changed for having known and cared about this person who I never met… and, maybe, that is because I will be forever changed for having become a runner.
I can’t say it was easy, or even that it is today. Christopher McDougall details a lot more than just Caballo’s life in his awesomely inspiring book, and one point he emphasizes is that we, as a people, have moved far from what we were once meant to do. “Just move your legs. Because if you don’t think you were born to run, you’re not only denying history. You’re denying who you are.” McDougall asks what other species gathers en masse to run 26.2 miles for fun? Just us… but modern life has led many to forget the unfettered joy of running that lurks somewhere deep within our bones. All one has to do is watch a child play to know what fun it can be… so why is it that as we grow, we slow?
Micah True did not slow. He ran with the enthusiasm of a child; easy, light, and smooth. He ran free, unrestrained by limitations and joyful in his generosity and love for others. He was a kind person whose friends, including some of the best ultra runners in the country, gathered immediately in New Mexico at the news of his disappearance, scouring dangerous terrain, feeling that at any moment their friend would join them, smiling and ready to run.
McDougall, in a Twitter message sent shortly after True’s body was discovered, said: “Caballo had the only funeral he would have wanted: his friends spent days running in the wilderness in his honor.”
True’s death leaves a lot of questions unanswered, since his unique relationship with the Rarámuri was key to the continued existence (and integrity) of his Copper Canyon Ultra, a race that has come to play a crucial role in the continued existence of the Rarámuri themselves.
True was their greatest champion. He saw something in them that so many of us have lost. Something he knew well.
On Friday evening, I went for a run… I didn’t think about the miles or fidget with my new shoes. I didn’t take an iPod or a watch. I ran hard, and felt better than I have in a long time.
Though it saddens me to know that such an inspiration was taken well before his time, Micah True’s story will continue to remind me, long after his death, of the very heart of my love for running, with no prerequisites, no goals to achieve, no speed to obtain. Just pure, unadulterated joy at the freedom of moving your feet.
**If you’d like to help support the Rarámuri through what has been the worst drought in years, and you can’t see yourself running the Copper Canyon Ultra anytime soon, visit Norawas de Rarámuri, which uses all of its proceeds to provide nutrition and other direct awards to Rarámuri runners. The donation is tax deductible and a fantastic registry or alternative-to-a-favor option, in case you’re thinking of going that route.