My Sports Illustrated Moment

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You’re probably sick of hearing about barefoot running. Me, too.

But there’s something important that often gets lost in the hype: The Tarahumara people who inspired the movement. They are subsistence farmers scratching a living out of barren, rocky soil in remote gorges deeper than the Grand Canyon. They may be the world’s greatest endurance athletes, but right now, they’re also one of the world’s most drought-stricken people.

Mexico is experiencing its worst drought in recorded history, and the Tarahumara have been hit particularly hard, because they are so utterly dependent on the land.

I witnessed their struggles firsthand a few weeks ago when I ran in a traditional ball-kicking race with the Tarahumara at the bottom of their canyons. Their springs are dry. Their corn cribs are empty. And many of them lack the calories to run mega-distances.

A short story about the Tarahumara drought and famine—and the ball-kicking race—appears in this week’s Sports Illustrated (click here to read it). I wish my appearance in Sports Illustrated was less dire. But I hope the attention from this story can help the world’s greatest runners get back on their feet.


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