MEXICO’s Tarahumara people inspired a barefoot, ultrarunning craze all across the world
“The Infinite Race” by ESPN + and Deportes is the story of the Tarahumara, an indigenous community in Mexico, who inspired an ultrarunning craze around the world — and are currently threatened by drug cartel violence.
This week, ESPN Films is premiering The Infinite Race, the latest documentary from two-time Emmy nominated filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz (Reportero, Kingdom of Shadows).
When: Starts Tuesday, December 15.
Where: ESPN and ESPN Deportes; livestreaming, the Inside 30 for 30 special and replays can be found here
The documentary follows indigenous Tarahumara runners and their ongoing fight for survival in the badlands of Northern Mexico, and delves into how and why the Tarahumara (who refer to themselves as the Rarámuri) run by telling the story of three runners fighting to maintain their community’s practices in the shadow of encroaching drug cartels and increased foreign attention.
Silvino Cubesare, 41, Irma Chávez, 28, and Catalina Rascón, 19, all run for different reasons, but despite the obstacles in their paths, they’re all connected to a tradition that sees running as an act of resistance — an infinite race.
The Tarahumara — who call themselves the Rarámuri — regularly run distances of 100-plus miles while going barefoot or wearing thin sandals. In 2009, when Christopher McDougall’s book “Born To Run” documented this, it garnered immediate interest in the running community. Barefoot-style shoes became a global phenomenon. International runners descended upon Urique, a small town in Northwest Mexico, to participate in the Caballo Blanco ultramarathon held in honor of the tribe and its customs.
But despite the international renown, the Tarahumara people have continued to face threats from organized crime and drug cartels, including kidnappings and murders. Local farms have been taken over to plant marijuana or poppy.
In 2015, the organizers of the Caballo Blanco ultramarathon were forced to cancel the event the night before it was to be held — and evacuate foreign runners as quickly as possible — after multiple violent incidents broke out during the leadup to the race.
“The Infinite Race” explores the big questions raised by this series of events: What happens when outsiders, even when well-intentioned, come to a community with different economic, political and cultural realities than their own?