Posts Tagged ‘Born to Run’

‘Born to Run’ author likes ‘Wild Burro Tales’

August 11, 2010

A few years ago, Christopher McDougall came out to cover the Leadville International Pack-Burro Race for Men’s Health magazine. Since then, he’s become a New York Times best-selling author with his book “Born to Run.” When I was putting “Wild Burro Tales” together I contacted Christopher and asked him to read the galleys. He provided this kind quote, which is on the back cover of the book:

You need to read “Wild Burro Tales” to discover why Hal Walter is the poet laureate of pack burros, and why pack burros deserve their own poet. For the same reason we’re lucky that Jack London went to Alaska and Hemingway took a fancy to bullfights, we got a break when a writer of Walter’s talents decided to immerse himself in the weird and wonderful world of pro burro racing. Not only does Walter capture all the drama of “the longest, highest, roughest, toughest test of man and beast” where “a big animal gets in the way of a big ego,” he also pays as much respect to the scrappy old miners who created the sport as the blazing young newcomers who are redefining it. No one knows more about this unique partnership of complex animals and extraordinary athletes than Walter, and it’s hard to imagine a writer who could describe it better.

— Christopher McDougall

Author of New York Times Best-Seller “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen”

How to get a copy of “Wild Burro Tales”:

• Available at The Book Mine in Leadville, The Hand Hotel in Fairplay, the Book Haven in Salida, Candy’s Coffee and Westcliffe Super Market in Westcliffe, and The Bookery in Pueblo.

• Order a signed copy directly from me.

• Order from

• Order from Creastespace:

Caballo Blanco meets Burro Negro

July 31, 2010

If you’ve read Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen,” then Caballo Blanco, aka Micah True, needs no introduction. If you haven’t read this New York Times Best-Seller, it would be easier for you to get the book and read it than for me to try to explain who Caballo is.

Caballo Blanco, Burro Pinto and Jalapeno.

There’s a reason the book has been on the NYT Best-Seller list for months — it’s because it’s a great read. A good part of the story is devoted to tracking down and explaining the almost mythical Caballo Blanco who lives much of his time among the Tarahumara, or Raramuri, people in the Copper Canyon country of Mexico.

I had to go on no such search to find Caballo. All I had to do was drive an hour to the Bill and Julie Canterbury Ranch near Howard, and I already knew how to get there. Caballo appeared there Friday ready to try his hand at pack-burro racing. This was Caballo’s first introduction to the sport prior to running the Leadville’s Boom Days race next Sunday, though he’s seen plenty of burros in Copper Canyon, and hires them out to pack gear on tours that he guides there.

Caballo is also no stranger to long-distance running — that’s mostly what he does, and he’s competed in countless ultramarathons, including the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, which he organizes.

This venture into pack-burro racing was arranged through Roger Pedretti, brother of the late Rob Pedretti, my close friend whom I wrote about in my book, “Wild Burro Tales.” Roger took up pack-burro racing as a tribute to Rob following his death, and now travels from Wisconsin each summer to run in the races.

It seems Roger struck up a friendship with Caballo over Facebook (go figure – Caballo has nearly 2,000 Facebook “friends”), and talked him into checking out pack-burro racing. Of course Caballo needed a decent burro, and so Roger contacted me and I decided to set him up with Spike, who has actually won the Leadville race a couple times. Spike, by the way, is black.

So we met at Cantebury’s for a training run, up the Howard Creek road. Basically we just ran uphill about three miles and then back to the ranch. Caballo did well keeping Spike moving uphill, but on the way back down Spike managed to get away from him a couple times.

After the run I asked Caballo how he’s coping with the newfound fame brought about by the book. He said that he has mixed emotions about it, and that he’s “trying to keep it real” by channeling the energy into helping the Raramuri people sustain their culture.

Last year the race he organizes brought in 100,000 pounds of corn for the Tarahumara, and $14,000 in prizes. In fact every Raramuri who finishes his race is awarded 500 pounds of corn. But Caballo wants to do more. He’s traveling the country doing speaking engagements in hopes of raising more awareness about the Tarahumara. And he’s contemplating a book of his own.

Apparently Caballo and Roger have a couple more training runs scheduled next week to give him more opportunity to get acquainted with Spike. It’ll be interesting to see how they do at Boom Days next weekend.

The Great Running Shoe Hunt, Part 2

June 6, 2010

My great shoe hunt may be over. Saturday a pair of Inov-8 Flyroc 310s arrived in the mail from Colorado Running Company in Colorado Springs.

Now let’s back up. When I last wrote about shoes I had been having footproblems since Nike changed its Pegasus model. I went through a pair of Nike Skylons, then a pair of New Balance TR 904, which I initially liked but then began to develop pain in the top of the foot. My feet felt pretty tortured after the 30-mile World Championship Pack-Burro Race. But the final straw was the following week when the bottom forefoot of one these shoes peeled loose somewhere on the way back down Mosquito Pass during the Leadville Boom Days Pack-Burro Race

By then I was not in the mood to buy any more new shoes, and this was only reinforced after reading Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run” over the winter. Sometime last fall I bought a pair of Land’s End Trail Runners, and for $38 they actually weren’t the worst shoes I’ve ever run in. At least they were gimmick-free and fairly low-profile. Somehow throughout the winter and spring I put in my workouts rotating these shoes with a pair of Nike Lunarglide Avants, which I destroyed in short order, and an old, old pair of Nike Free Trail 5.0s.

I even put in a couple of two-hour runs in the Frees. I’ve also been doing some barefoot therapy after some workouts, and have done some running and walking in my Crocs.

All the while I’ve been researching shoes. I even spent a few hours in some shoe stores. The thing that annoys me most is the discrepancy in sizing. I had my foot measured on Brannock Devices in two different stores. Both times it was agreed that I am just under a size 11. Still, I knew better and had one shoe-store salesperson bring out a pair of Nike Free Runs in size 12. I couldn’t even get my foot into the shoe. I asked for a size 13 and they didn’t have it in that size. I tried on a pair of Nike Lunarglides and decided that I needed a 13 in this shoe as well.

Why can’t shoe companies make shoes to standardized sizing? It seems like this is even more important in the age of Internet shopping.

Figuring that I’d take advantage of my discount at Roadrunner Sports, I decided to order a pair of Lunarglides from them. My wife also wanted a pair. They arrived. We tried them on. We looked at each other and suddenly realized how tall they are. We boxed them back up. I sent them back.

That was when I contacted John O’Neill at Colorado Running Company. The store carries the Inov-8 line and after some discussion I decided to order the Flyrocs in size 12. These shoes are low profile, flexible, and so far seem to be good. I spent three hours running and hiking in them yesterday. I wish I’d ordered them in size 12.5, but for now at least I have something I can apparently run in.