Requiem for Micah True

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Requiem for Micah True

“To live with ghosts requires solitude.” Anne Michaels

On Tuesday, Micah True, went for a run and never returned. They found his body on Saturday evening. From the first reports that he was missing on Wednesday, I scoured the internet checking Facebook for updates grateful to those kind enough to keep us in the loop. Like many, I was sure that a person as competent as True in desert terrain would be found no worse for the wear, laughing at all the fuss that had been made because of his absence. I imagined his dog, Guadajuko, not sure whether to run or wag, licking True’s face in unbridled dog joy as True returned to the lodge. As days passed, like some, I began to hope the disappearance was planned. Maybe it was a needed break from the spotlight. Without Guadajuko in tow, that seemed unlikely. When I heard they found his body, I wasn’t surprised. I am heartbroken.

I met True on the pages of a book called Born to Run. Written by Christopher McDougall, the book accounts McDougall’s struggles with running injuries that led him to the Copper Canyons of Mexico and to a person the Raramuri Indians referred to as Caballo Blanco, White Horse. On their first run together as McDougall followed close, True told McDougall, “ Don’t fight the trail…take what it gives you…think easy, light, smooth and fast. You start with easy because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a sh*t how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that your forget your practicing you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one — you get those three and you’ll be fast.” So with the words, “easy, light, smooth and fast,” echoing in my ears, after 20+ years of failed doctor’s advice and physical therapy,  I knew I would take my aching knees and bad hips and figure out how to run again.

Born to Run had me from the first word. In addition to True, there were a whole host of characters that, unlike many books I read, were all real life, living, breathing people. Curious, I wanted to learn more about them and find out what they were up to post publication. Oh, how I love the internet. Several searches later, I was up to speed on Jenn Shelton’s quest for the Olympic trials, Eric Orton’s client training, Scott Jurek’s continued feats with ultra races, and all the fun and amazing things Barefoot Ted does.

But the person who really intriuged me was Micah True. After the last word was written and Born to Run was published and the book tour was over, True continued to dedicate himself to the simple, caring, and centered way of life he had discovered in the Raramuri culture. In addition, he started a nonprofit to provide corn for the Raramuri, traversing the globe speaking and hosting his annual ultra marathon race in the Copper Canyons to raise funds.

For the past year, I’ve watched True. He was kind enough to accept my friend request on Facebook and with each post I learned more about this heart led man who just wanted to live and love and run free. I was inspired. As I write this, the tears have finally come as I grieve. For the Raramuri, True provided sustenance, but for me and I’m sure many others he was the example that it is never too late. His life taught me that we have to keep seeking no matter how long it takes for that thing that sets us on fire and once we find it, once it has a hold of us, we have to throw ourselves in whole-hearted. Like True, we have to give ourselves to it and lean in and lean hard and make sure that we are loving every step of the way.

True was planning  a speaking tour again this summer to raise funds for the Raramuri. As dates were announced, I hoped he would get close enough so that I could go and meet him. I was looking forward to the opportunity to shake his hand. Maybe he’d even let me hug his neck. Mostly, I just wanted to look him square in the eye and from the bottom of my heart say thank you.

I’m heartbroken for the Raramuri, for Maria, for family and friends, and for Guadajuko as I can’t imagine the grief felt in losing someone so beloved. I send continued prayers and love to you. I’m also heartbroken for the world because this force of nature who was Micah True no longer walks among us, inspiring us and making us laugh. I’m grateful to Christopher McDougall for bringing this person to our attention and even more grateful that True will live forever not only in the hearts of those who knew and loved him but also in the hearts of those who will have the opportunity to read about his life on the pages of Born to Run.

Run free.


  1. Denise, this is a beautifully written tribute from you heart. Thank you for sharing with me more about the amazing person that he was on earth. The photo is spectacular- a running horse. Perfect. Sending love, Kari

    • The image is from his Facebook profile page. I don’t know where he got the shot or if it was “doctored” but it is fitting that it is the last image he left us with.

  2. That’s beautiful Denise, thank you for sharing x

    • Thanks Jacqui.

  3. That is very beautifully written Denise. Although I had never heard of Micah True prior to his death, the title of his book “Born to Run” and story of his life & mission did captivate my attention. I think we should all live our lives with fleet feet, light and easy, as we pursue our paths of destiny. Your tribute is among the best I’ve read. HUGS.

    • Thanks, Sandy. I know you have a big stack of books to read, but hope you’ll pick this one up. It’s well worth the time. A mesmerizing true story that reads like a fairy tale and reminded me why running is so important to me.

  4. I’m so sorry to read this! I hadn’t heard what happened. I just finished reading “Born to Run” and loved reading about Caballo Blanco. It saddens me to know he’s gone.

    • As the days pass, the impact his life had on not only the Raramuri and those who knew him, but also by those of us who only met him on the pages of Born to Run, becomes more and more clear. This was a man who followed his heart in the truest sense of the word. I’m so glad you read and enjoyed the book, it was a game changer for me.

      • The loyalty you pepole have for Micah and his memory brings tears to my eyes. Most CCUM pepole did not pick up food vouchers after CCUM. Rest assured, these are helping the pepole he most loved in the Sierra Tarahumara and to further the running ideals Micah struggled to promote in this region.

  5. Oh to be that enamoured with running… What a loss for that community. Beautifully written, as always.

  6. Thank you, Denise. You spoke my heart as well. Thank you.

    • few months back after rnidaeg Born to Run by Christopher McDougall I started drinking a glass of Pinole before every run.a0 Pinole is basically powdered corn in

    • While reading about Micah True (aka: Caballo Blanco) in Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run last year, I beamce intrigued with this silent warrior. I found his beliefs to protect the Raramuri to be quite honorable. Please, send me info as I would like to support his cause financially. If I can’t make it down there, I can certainly help his cause and provide for the Tarahumara.

    • I still can’t really accept that he’s gone.

  7. A late thank you! Perfect words.

    • Hi there,Norawas de Raramuri will keep working locllay to help support the culture and the people of the Canyons. With Caballo gone, they will focus on events other than the CCUM, which is what the new Caballo Blanco Foundation mainly focuses on. Of course, we will keep in contact with Norawas, they are friends and we encourage everyone to support them.

  8. Rob,We have put up a Donations page on this web site if you would like to help out. Mas Locos and close friends of Micah have crteaed a foundation for him, which will aim at continuing his work down in the canyons, most of all at helping the CCUM live on. Your help is greatly appreciated.

    • Thanks to all the recent comments and all the information that you’ve shared. The beauty of Caballo’s spirit continues to live through each of us who takes his words and life example and runs free. I hope that like Caballo we will each look for opportunities to have a positive impact on the people and things we love best.

      I contacted Maria Walton, the love of Caballo’s life, and she said that anyone is welcomed to support the newly founded Caballo Blanco Memorial Foundation. She and members of the foundation are raising funds for the March 3, 2013, Caballo Blanco Ultra Marathon in the Copper Canyons. The money will help give back to the Raramuri families that Caballo so loved. You can visit the website for more info.

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