Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Born to Run

The Times Sports section ran a piece by Barry Bearak entitled “Caballo Blanco's Last Run: The Micah True Story” (NYT, 5/20/12). It has to be one of the longest pieces that’s ever appeared in the Sports Section of the Times and concerns Micah True, born Michael Randall Hickman, the mythic Caballo Blanco of Christopher McDougall’s best seller Born to Run. True was what might be called an extreme athlete in extremis running, according to Bearak, races “two, three or four times as long as marathons,” and often through grueling terrain. Bearak describes how True became fascinated by a tribe called the Raramuri, “loosely translated as the running people. They had retreated into the massive canyons of the Sierra Madre centuries ago to escape the conquistadors.” The Raramuri...ran in sandals and were “barely winded by the arduous climbs…(they) did not possess any locomotive secrets. They simply retained the ‘genetic cellular memory’ most human beings had forgotten.” Bearak quotes True as saying, “Everyone of us used to be a long-distance runner.” Actually Bearak’s piece is a jeremiad of sorts since it recalls True’s disappearance and death from what is suspected to be idiopathic cardiomyopathy, a heart ailment that’s sometimes transmitted genetically. Ironically, though it was good genes True was seeking, it was genes that may have killed him. Another irony of the piece was the way it describes how someone who loved ancient ways and who was comfortable living with indigenous peoples in the wilderness was a compulsive e-mailer who sought out a Wi Fi connection when he “drove east with (his) dog to the Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico, one of his favorite retreats.” What a piece of work is man!

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