Caballo Blanco meets Burro Negro

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.