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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.

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