Light of Feet crush pro athletes in long-distance run

18 July 2017 - 08:33 By AFP
ON THE GO: An indigenous Tarahumara runner takes part in a half- marathon along the streets in Guachochi, Mexico Picture: JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ/REUTERS
ON THE GO: An indigenous Tarahumara runner takes part in a half- marathon along the streets in Guachochi, Mexico Picture: JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ/REUTERS

In the indigenous cultures of Latin America, women both toil at farming and tackle family duties. And, atop a remote Mexican mountain, they also outperform professional athletes on long-distance runs.

Talk about extreme sports: the Raramuri people - part of the Aztec family - fled up the mountains of Chihuahua state more than five centuries ago to save themselves from the Spanish invaders. There they stayed.

Over the years they have become cliff-dwellers, often sleeping in caves. But they also move their animals along constantly - and, as part of their nomadic lifestyle, have learned to master extreme long-distance runs.

This year's Canyons Ultramarathon brought together more than 1000 competitors from around the world - Russia, Canada, the US, Ecuador and Spain - to take on the steep slopes of the Sinforosa range of the Tarahumara mountains in the Sierra Madre Occidental.

With the wail of "Weringa!", which means "Onward" in the Raramuri language, the runners were off. They battled it out in the men's and women's 63km and 100km contests from Friday to Sunday afternoon. The results: all four races were won by Raramuri (which means "Light of Feet").

The course followed mountain ridges and is clotted with mud and rocks. It even takes runners over a woven suspension bridge.

The native runners' kit includes sandals hand-carved out of old car tyres.

"We don't have to do a lot to train - because we don't have cars, we walk or run everywhere," said Miguel Lara, 27, who won the 100km sprint in nine hours and 46 minutes.

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