The background to Caballo Blanco Memorial Run

My name is Christer Schapiro and I have been running since about 1976. Here is my story of how a race can come to.

Around the year 2000, I saw a program on TV that was about a people in northern Mexico who ran and kicked a small ball in a match that lasted day and night. It was said that these people ran up and down steep mountain slopes seemingly without getting tired.

In 2009, the book "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" was published. The author was Christopher McDougall, a journalist who, tired of constant foot injuries while running, began to investigate why. In search of "natural" running, he found among others the people of Tarahumara (or Raramuri as they call themselves) who live in Chihuahua, in northern Mexico. The same people I saw in the TV show several years earlier. In the book, he tells vividly about how an American (Micah True) with the nickname Caballo Blanco (The White Horse) lives in the city of Urique, Chihuahua. A few years earlier, he started an ultra race, the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon (CCUM), to help raramuris maintain its running traditions. All raramuris who pass the scratch time in the race (13 hours) get lots of corn which is their livelihood and thus a carrot to line up in the race. The race is now renamed the Ultra Maratón Caballo Blanco (UMCB).
The book then continues to be about running in other parts of the world and in other aspects, but this very first part was probably the one that stuck with most people, at least with me.

By the end of 2010, I had found that Caballo Blanco was on Facebook. It turned out that he went around the United States and talked about his work in Mexico and about the reality behind what is described in the book. All to raise money for CCUM. I had arranged some other events at that time and started thinking about inviting him to Sweden to talk about this. But when I asked, he thought Sweden was too far away. But a few months later, some Englishmen had succeeded in persuading him to come to England. I saw that the swedish race "Lidingöloppet" was going to take place in the middle of the English tour so I talked to the English and managed to wedge a Swedish tour in the middle of the English tour. I also tried to find someone in Norway and Denmark who wanted to arrange something and after many ifs and buts a Danish sports store owner got interested and arranged a small event in his shop.

My detailed planning began:
The day before the Lidingö race, 23 Sept 2011: CB arrives in Stockholm 09:40, check in at hotel 14:30, Lunch 15:00, interview by Runners World 16:00, speech in the Olympic Hall, Bosön for about 250 people 18:00, then a late dinner and to the hotel to sleep.

He was supposed to run the day after with me but partly he was very tired, partly jet lag, partly he thought it had been stressful in England, partly he felt an injury in the calf so while I was running, a friend of mine guided him around and cheered on the runners. I am guaranteed to be the only one received by Caballo Blanco at the finish line in Lidingö! After that we had a good dinner at Hermans with some of my family and then I drove him up to my home in Persbo, out in the countryside, near Avesta and Hedemora about 100 miles to the north of Stockholm. There he was allowed to sleep in a guest room and was finally able to get some peace and quiet.

Just 2km away is an old manor/castle, Garpenbergs Herrgård, where I had booked a reasonably large hall for the about 40 people who came from Dalarna, Västmanland and Gästrikland to listen to him. After about 90 minutes of telling and many questions, we went home and took it easy.

The next day, September 26, we ran out and ran. Micah wanted to try if the calf was ok. He wanted to run about 10km so I chose a distance I used to run which is almost 11km. In the evening there was dinner with some invited neighbors. The next day it was time to go to Arlanda for an early flight to Copenhagen.

Life eventually returned to normal for me. But first I had to go with the equivalent of about $6000 in a bag to the bank to send the collected funds to Micah's contact in the USA who took care of this.

Since March 27, 2012, via Micah's friends (I was in their email group) I was saw that Micah had gone missing. He had set out to run a lap and had not come back. Several of the closest friends from different parts of the United States traveled to New Mexico where it had happened to help searching. Only on the 31st his body was found. It is believed that the death was due to a hidden heart defect.

On April 6, in Boulder, the first "official" Memorial Run was held. Then it spread to many places in the United States.

I followed this and decided that it would be appropriate if the date and place would be like the only time he ran in Sweden, around Lidingö race time and the 11km we ran together. So the first Caballo Blanco Memorial Run (CBMR) took place on 22/9 2012. You could then run 1-4 laps on that track. 36 people came and ran and another 10 supported the event. It has always been the case that a fairly large part of the registration fee is collected and sent in support of Micah's race in Mexico. Recently, the race has been "taken over" by the municipality, so then we instead support "Corrida de Los Caballitos" which is a race for children.

Since then, I have arranged a CBMR every year at the turn of Sept/Oct. After a year or so, they wanted to run longer so from 2014 you could run up to 6 laps on the track. The race always ends with us having dinner together.

Among many other things I did, I was hired by Södra Dalarnas Tourist Organisation to make GPS tracks and a map of a 75km long MTB track that a friend of mine put up. Last year the thoughts started to connect, Micah's race CCUM is 50 miles (which is 80km), the Mtb track passes my CBMR track and it is almost 80km as well. After a lot of planning, running around on the MTB track to see that it was still maintained, programming the website and improving the registration/timing routines, this spring I was able to inform the outside world that there is now a 50miles race as well.

I called it Ultra Caballo Blanco Suecia (UCBS).

So 6/10 2018 06:00 10 slightly frozen runners set off in the dark. A new race had started!