From the book
To live with ghosts requires solitude.--Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces
FOR DAYS, I'd been searching Mexico's Sierra Madre for the phantom known as Caballo Blanco--the White Horse. I'd finally arrived at the end of the trail, in the last place I expected to find him--not deep in the wilderness he was said to haunt, but in the dim lobby of an old hotel on the edge of a dusty desert town. "Sí, El Caballo está," the desk clerk said, nodding. Yes, the Horse is here.
"For real?" After hearing that I'd just missed him so many times, in so many bizarre locations, I'd begun to suspect that Caballo Blanco was nothing more than a fairy tale, a local Loch Ness mons - truo dreamed up to spook the kids and fool gullible gringos.
"He's always back by five," the clerk added. "It's like a ritual." I didn't know whether to hug her in relief or high- five her in triumph. I checked my watch. That meant I'd actually lay eyes on the ghost in less than . . . hang on.
"But it's already after six."
The clerk shrugged. "Maybe he's gone away."
I sagged into an ancient sofa. I was filthy, famished, and defeated. I was exhausted, and so were my leads.
Some said Caballo Blanco was a fugitive; others heard he was a boxer who'd run off to punish himself after beating a man to death in the ring. No one knew his name, or age, or where he was from. He was like some Old West gunslinger whose only traces were tall tales and a whiff of cigarillo smoke. Descriptions and sightings were all over the map; villagers who lived impossible distances apart swore they'd seen him traveling on foot on the same day, and described him on a scale that swung wildly from "funny and simpático" to "freaky and gigantic."
But in all versions of the Caballo Blanco legend, certain basic details were always the same: He'd come to Mexico years ago and trekked deep into the wild, impenetrable Barrancas del Cobre--the Copper Canyons--to live among the Tarahumara, a near- mythical tribe of Stone Age superathletes. The Tarahumara (pronounced Spanish- style by swallowing the "h": Tara- oo- mara) may be the healthiest and most serene people on earth, and the greatest runners of all time.
When it comes to ultradistances, nothing can beat a Tarahumara runner--not a racehorse, not a cheetah, not an Olympic marathoner.
Very few outsiders have ever seen the Tarahumara in action, but amazing stories of their superhuman toughness and tranquillity have drifted out of the canyons for centuries. One explorer swore he saw a Tarahumara catch a deer with his bare hands, chasing the bounding animal until it finally dropped dead from exhaustion, "its hoofs falling off." Another adventurer spent ten hours climbing up and over a Copper Canyon mountain by mule; a Tarahumara runner made the same trip in ninety minutes.
"Try this," a Tarahumara woman once told an exhausted explorer who'd collapsed at the base of a mountain. She handed him a gourd full of a murky liquid. He swallowed a few gulps, and was amazed to feel new energy pulsing in his veins. He got to his feet and scaled the peak like an overcaffeinated Sherpa. The Tarahumara, the explorer would later report, also guarded the recipe to a special energy food that leaves them trim, powerful, and unstoppable: a few mouthfuls packed enough nutritional punch to let them run all day without rest.
But whatever secrets the Tarahumara are hiding, they've hidden them...
Author: Christopher McDougall
Bio: Christopher McDougall is a former war correspondent for the Associated Press and is now a contributing editor for Men’s Health. A three-time National Magazine Award finalist, he has written for Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Outside, Men’s Journal, and New York. He does his own running among the Amish farms around his home in rural Pennsylvania.
Christopher McDougall is available for select readings and lectures. To inquire about a possible appearance, please contact Random House Speakers Bureau at email@example.com or visit www.rhspeakers.com.
"A tale so mind-blowing as to be the stuff of legend." - The Denver Post
"McDougall's book reminded me of why I love to run." - Bill Rodgers, San Francisco Chronicle
"Fascinating. . . . Thrilling. . . . An operatic ode to the joys of running." - The Washington Post
"It's a great book. . . . A really gripping read. . . .Unbelievable story . . . a really phenomenal book." - Jon Stewart on The Daily Show
"One of the most entertaining running books ever." - Amby Burfoot, Runnersworld.com
"Equal parts quest, physiology treatise, and running history. . . . [McDougall] seeks to learn the secrets of the Tarahumara the old-fashioned way: He tracks them down. . . . The climactic race reads like a sprint. . . . It simply makes you want to run." - Outside Magazine
"Born to Run is a fascinating and inspiring true adventure story, based on humans pushing themselves to the limits. It's destined to become a classic." - Sir Ranulph Fiennes, author of Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know
"Equal parts hilarity, explanation and earnestness--whisks the reader along on a compelling dash to the end, and along the way captures the sheer joy that a brisk run brings." - Science News
"Born to Run is funny, insightful, captivating, and a great and beautiful discovery." - Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to Antarctica
"A page-turner, taking the reader on an epic journey in search of the world's greatest distance runners in an effort to uncover the secrets of their endurance." - The Durango Herald
"Driven by an intense yet subtle curiosity, Christopher McDougall gamely treads across the continent to pierce the soul and science of long-distance running." - Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers