Sunday, April 1, 2012

Micah True is Gone. Caballo Blanco Runs Free.

Sundown on canyon
Running on the waters edge
Morning Spring arrives

Copper Canyon - Mexico

Micah True is dead.

If you follow ultra running you already know they found his body in New Mexico this weekend. See here.

I had the good fortune to attend a talk by Caballo Blanco last year in London. Documented here. I like to think the comment on my article was from Caballo himself, may be it was, may be it wasn't, doesn't matter.

Caballo Blanco in London last year

I've never spoken to him directly, so a person I have never spoken to died in a place I've never been too, but like a lot of people the news of Caballos death affected me.


As he said himself,

"If I were to be remembered for anything at all, I would want that to be that I am/was authentic. No Mas. Run Free!"

He was authentic, he embodied the spirit of a sport. In an age when rampant commercialism has overtaken most sport, when most people have become disconnected from themselves and their environment, he represented an alternative.

He stripped it down to essentials. We all become enamoured by the details, which shoes should I wear, I need a garmin, and a heart rate monitor and a hydration strategy and this supplement. But you don't need any of this. The most important thing is to run. To practice running you must run. Human beings move, human beings run.

His friend and journalist Michael Sandrock said of him

"He's just authentic and genuine. ... Micah is a guy who follows his bliss,"

As Joseph Campbell said, the most important thing is to follow your bliss in life.

He was the distilled essence of why we run.

Most men (and women) live lives of quiet desperation. Somewhere in their life, may be in their teens or their twenties or later, they lose track of themselves.  The daily grind of going to work, and making mortgage/rent payments, and buying things they don't need in shops they don't like to put in a house in a place they don't want to live; and they wake up one day and can't remember who they are.

Caballo was the antithesis of this, be true to yourself.

You get to a certain age, and you don't have heroes anymore, but there are still people who teach you a thing or two, open a door to a room you never knew existed.

Sometime ago.

Back in early 2009 I walked into Foyles book shop in London. A few weeks earlier I had agreed to take part in an Ultra run the next year with my Dad & brother. Even though I had done some running in the past, I'd never run further than half marathon distance, never done a marathon and hadn't entered any type of formal running event since I was a kid. I had read Dean Karnazes Ultramarathon Man at some point, and even though it was a good read I had no intention of running anywhere.

On the shelf of the bookshop was the book Born To Run. It had only been published a few days earlier in the UK, and by shear luck I had stumbled across it while looking for a book on ultrarunning. As you probably know, the book introduced us to Caballo Blanco, became a best seller, probably single handedly started the barefoot running craze/ debate (though Caballo himself was pragmatic when asked about barefoot running), and is probably also responsible for a surge in popularity of ultrarunning.

But back then no one knew any of that was going to happen. I had already started running again, and the book introduced me to a whole world I knew nothing about, Leadville, Tarahumara, Scott Jurek, and running for the joy of running. Something I'd lost along the way. Running just to run. Running the trails, running the wilderness. In essence reading that book, and running ultras changed me.

Don't let me die in Charlton

A long time ago, a guy I knew, started getting chest pains while driving in London, he then realised he was in Charlton, the place he grew up and hated. Despite his sense of impending doom he deliberately kept driving to get out of Charlton, to another part of London because he didn't want to die in Charlton, where he had started.

In the end I guess it doesn't matter where you die.

But it seems Caballo Blanco was in the right place, on the trail, in the wilderness, out running.

'He was a friend of mine, he died on the road'. - Bob Dylan

Yes taken too soon. But his spirits lives on, Micah True is dead but Caballo Blanco runs free in all of us.

Be all you can be. Run because you want to, run because you need to.

"There is no test to hand in at the end of life, so there is no way to fail." - J. Haidt (The Happiness Hypotheses)

Keep on running, I'll see you on trail somwhere, someday.

Adios amigo.


In the high seat, before dawn dark,
Polished hubs gleam
And the shiny diesel stack
Warms and flutters
Up the Tyler Road grade
To the logging in Poorman creek.
Thirty miles of dust.
There is no other life.

Gary Snyder - Turtle Island 1974

No comments:

Post a Comment