A Trail Running Dream Come True: 6 Miles in the Copper Canyon

Copper Canyon, Mexico is a trail running dream come true.
The trails are rocky, dirty and boast spectacular views.

See. . .

[photo credit: Stefania Curto]


But, this experience wasn’t just my dream. The dream was shared – we [a group of 8] followed a suspension bridge over the dry river to run. Running experience aside, we were there to soak up the vertical miles – together.


The connections, positive energy and joy of movement were overpowering. And, when you stopped to look around, you realized just how important it is to connect with the world around you. It’s a very big world [made small by the connection of human spirit].

Now, let’s back up for a second. Remember when I fell down the baby mountain in the early Fall – I think it was October..? The fall that took me out of running for way too many weeks – well, I thought I would make a comeback statement – 6 miles in Mexico, statement achieved.

For all the time spent not running in the weeks leading up to this trip [best known as, Operation Farm & Run], I fully embraced the few hours of challenge. I wasn’t frustrated, I was happy. I was cautious yet, overly optimistic. I was definitely a bit out of breath, but where my lungs were lacking, my heart was making up the difference. And, instead of focusing on the lack of ankle mobility, or pace, I just ran – my run. Step after step, following Arnulfo [and, Morgan – she is a rockstar on the trails] up and up.


* * *

We arrived to the trailhead eager to get our running legs moving. We climbed out of the van, stretched out, crossed the suspension bridge over the dry river and started moving – UP. The common theme of Canyon living is, up – and, that’s the direction we followed for nearly 3 miles. But, let’s not get to the destination point yet, let’s talk about the climb.

[photo credit: Stefania Curto]

While climbing is my thing [I always say that I’m more of a climber of the power hiker variation], this is a tough run, until you get in a groove. You start to focus on the other things – the beauty, the people you are running with, the peace and noise and the simplicity and complexity of the environment that surrounds you on all sides. And, as you fall in sync with your steps, the climb becomes a little bit easier. You focus on the trail, and keeping your feet under you [yes, you are running on a cliff at times] and take note as to what’s coming ahead.

[photo credit: Stefania Curto]

Arnulfo, a bit of a celebrity, led the way. His footsteps were light and effortless. His smile was big and the nonverbal communication told it all. This was pure happiness – this was a product of every day life [not a training plan]. And, now we were all a very small part of it.

To accommodate the paces of the group, we took many welcomed stops along the way. Stops were the opportunity to really check out the view [snap the photos]. Or maybe just pinch yourself to make sure this was real. In any case, a welcomed stop was the opportunity to sit down and break. The Tarahumara are conservative – and, they treat running no differently. A break is a break, and sitting down, conserves energy. As one can imagine, this sit down mid-run concept was a bit challenging for me.


We followed the rocky, single-track trail for a whole 3 miles. And, when those are dirt and vert miles, you are positive that it wasn’t only 3 miles. The 3 mile destination point was the home of a friendly Tarahumara who invited us in before our descent to our start destination.


Inside the fences of the property, we enjoyed the most delicious grapefruits from the backyard tree – agreeing that it was the best grapefruit we have ever had. We played with a puppy. We smiled, laughed and shared initial thoughts. And, we tried to politely decline a water and lime drink served with enthusiasm to us. The key ingredient – water [“agua”] made the delicious conconction difficult to enjoy – I think I held the full glass in my hand for multiple minutes, took a small sip and hesitantly returned it to the serving tray. Friends, I am just not that brave.



Refreshed, we said, “gracias” and goodbye and returned back down the trail. Here is where my pace slowed, and I knew I had to hold back to favor my already aching ankle. So at a slow and steady pace, I followed the winding switchbacks back down the mountain, over the rocky bed and to the trail that led to the bridge and then to the car. Normally, this back of the pack positioning would bring anger, frustration and angst – but, not that day. It was a run — a beautiful one at that, and in a world far away from home, my “problems” didn’t quite feel so worthy anymore.

The run was exhiliarating. It was beautiful. And, it was an every day route to home for many of the Tarahumara. This was real life, not just a trail running dream. Perspective, right?

[photo credit: Stefania Curto]

Back in the van, the group glowed, and not from sweat, from experience.

PS – The trail we ran is part of the infamous Caballo 50….2018 race plans?

* * *

I hope you had some time to read my initial post on my not so top-secret trip to Mexico. Urique is rich in culture and we packed a lot of life into 36 hours – this trail run is just one piece of the puzzle. Health Warrior is doing something pretty incredible in the Canyon. In collaboration with the Tarahumara, one farm has already been rehabilitated for chia cultivation. In 2017, Health Warrior aims to rehabilitate two more farms. But, they need your help —

Check out the Kickstarter Campaign here and learn more about this sustainable initiative.

And, this Spring, watch for the Mexican Chocolate Chia Bar – the portion of the sales from this new flavor will support Operation Farm & Run. YUM!


No Comments Yet.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *