Dirt in your skirt blog

Copper Canyons Trip – Part 1 of 3

Posted on March 5, 2014 by Margaret Schlachter



As I travel back to Utah from my trip to the Copper Canyons for the Ultra Marathon Caballo Blanco I am at a lose for words for the first time in a while as to how to eloquently put into words exactly what is experienced in the canyon. I can tell you the adventures, the travels, the race, who placed where and what I saw but it would only capture a part of why this place and this race is so meaningful.


Many have read the book Born to Run, I myself read it shortly after it came out and before it became “The Book” to a lot of runners. (If you have not read it, the book is a great story) I read it as someone interested in non-fiction books and stories of people and places. I was not a runner then and would not be for another year or two. But that story opened my eyes up to a lot of things in the running world and I am forever grateful to Christopher McDougal for opening this place to the world. But I now see “the book” really as a story. In the back of my mind after reading the book I had always wanted to visit this place, see the Tarahumara or Raramuri in person. Last year I had an entry to the race, but ended up in Nicaragua instead giving this entry to a friend.




My trip to Urique and the Copper Canyons was far from planned and was not on the calendar for the year. Instead, co-race director Josue Stephens and I were chatting via Facebook messenger the Tuesday prior to the race. He commented on how much it would be nice for me to be down there and cover the race as I did for Survival Run in Nicaragua this year. This happened to be my only week in a string of almost 6 weeks without a commitment and the thought of a quiet weekend at home with a nice long hike on Saturday was appealing. However, life and fate had a different plan for me. A few hours later, with a nod from my amazingly understanding boyfriend I was booking a flight and headed to El Paso, Texas the next day. In about 4-5 hours I had planned a trip, figured out a ride to the canyon, and would have a place to stay once I got to Urique. It was my time to finally experience the Copper Canyons and see the Raramuri run first hand.


Excitement does not begin to express my feelings as I boarded the flight on Wednesday afternoon. It was like a dream/surreal turn of events converging on my life. I had just returned from Atlas Race and Temecula, California and now I was on a plane to stay with a fellow runner in El Paso for the night and begin the two-day journey into the canyons Thursday morning. My arrival in El Paso was uneventful, a friend of the Juan (the runner whom I had virtually met the night before, whose house I would be staying at) picked me up at the airport. She is a local trail runner and we had lunch and she showed me around. In the midst of it all, I jumped onto a conference call while I was in the car with her picking up her kids from school. Multitasking is an understatement for the event.


1979263_592459090843744_1845401662_oI met with Juan at the hospital he is a doctor at and we went to his house, met two other runners who had flown in from San Antonio, as well as another runner from El Paso who would also be on the ride down to the canyons. Our travel group was coming together. The final two members Rodolfo and Kelly would arrive in the morning shortly before our driver John Hatch, a 4th generation Mexican from Colonial Juarez picked us up in what would go on to be dubbed “The Party Van”



1507595_592458864177100_94198109_nThursday morning we set off from El Paso on the 8-10 hour drive to Creel, Mexico, an uneventful boarder crossing and then began the party for most of those in the van. A couple cases of beers were purchased and most of the guys began their trip down to the canyons with a party. I think we stopped almost every hour for un baño with the crew. We arrived in Creel after sunset had a quick dinner before heading off to bed. Our hotel/hostel was the traditional stopping spot for Micah True aka Caballo Blanco and as it were Kelly and I ended up in the room he normally stayed in.


The Ride to Urique…


Sunrise in Creel