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Run Dry

Feb. 13, 2012
Feb. 13, 2012

Table of Contents
Feb. 13, 2012

LEADING OFF
THE MAIL
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
SUPER BOWL XLVI
COLLEGE FOOTBALL
BASEBALL
COLLEGE BASKETBALL
MIKE POWELL
  • AS THE COACH AT A HIGH SCHOOL NEAR CHICAGO, MIKE POWELL HAS DONE MORE THAN CREATE STATE WRESTLING CHAMPIONS. HE'S TAUGHT BOYS HOW TO BE MEN AND PROVIDED AN EXAMPLE OF COURAGE UNDER THE MOST TRYING PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES

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Run Dry

A drought imperils Mexico's legendary Tarahumara racers

After trekking from his North Carolina home to Mexico's Copper Canyon annually for the past decade to learn from the famed endurance running tribe, the Tarahumara, ultrarunner Will Harlan witnessed the rarajipari—an ancient footrace in which Tarahumara men chase a wooden ball along jagged trails for up to 100 miles. But when Harlan and his pal Mickey Mahafey organized a rarajipari in the canyon on Jan. 29, offering food as the prize, the race ended at about 50 miles, with many of the famously fit Tarahumaras too tired to continue.

This is an article from the Feb. 13, 2012 issue

"They were running for their lives," says Harlan. But running on empty. The worst drought on record in Mexico has exhausted the Tarahumara's food supply. Runners worldwide, many inspired by The New York Times best seller Born to Run, which features the tribe, launched a grassroots effort to save their brethren. Harlan's nonprofit, Barefoot Farm, last week delivered four tons of food and seeds to the Tarahumara. Almost all the donations, Harlan says, came from runners.

The tribe's way of life may be on its last legs, though, as the drought compounds pressures from Mexico's drug war and deforestation. "This is a make-or-break moment," Harlan says, urging all who want to help to visit norawas.org or barefootfarm.org.

PHOTOLUIS ESCOBAR (RUNNER)