Runners are one of the oldest known groups of athletes. In ancient times it was simply a way to get from one place to another, once man began to walk upright running followed naturally. The Tarahumara people are renowned for their ability to run long distances, and for being able to maintain their pace for long periods of time.
Originally the tribe lived throughout most of the state of Chihuahua, but when the Spanish explorers began to arrive in the 16th century, they retreated into the canyons and high sierras in and around the Sierra Madre Occidental. They still inhabit this part of Mexico today, and are still largely untouched by modern civilization. Part of the reason that they haven’t become part of the modern world is because their location is very remote, but it’s also because that is the way they want it. The name that they use for themselves “Raramuri” means literally “those who run fast”, or “runners on foot”, though not everyone agrees with this interpretation.
One of the wonderful things about runners is that everyone is accepted. You don’t have to be wealthy, smart, or even be a good runner. Wherever you go, you can run, and in what other sport can the least experienced athlete compete on the same playing field as the elite of their sport? You can run in expensive shoes or none at all and not one other runner will judge you. In 1928 two Tarahumara runners competed in the Olympics, and had to be stopped because they had no idea that they had completed the race. In 1960 Abebe Bikila didn’t have a pair of shoes that fit comfortably, so he ran barefoot to win the Olympic marathon, and no one batted an eyelash.
That’s what runners do, they run, there are no lines drawn between color, class, religion, or orientation, the most personal question that you are likely to be asked is what races you plan to register for this year.