Simplicity, Freedom, and Service: The Legacy of Caballo Blanco

AJW talks about the legacy of Caballo Blanco.

By on April 6, 2012 | Comments

AJWs TaproomI first met Micah True in the Wrightwood Community Center a few minutes before the start of the Angeles Crest 100 Miler in 2003. He was there as a host to several Tarahumara who had traveled from Copper Canyon to run the race that year. Above all else, I recall a distinctive glint in his eye and a gentle calmness in his voice that I will never forget. Since that day, I had run into Caballo a few times at various events and, of course, I followed with interest his involvement with Born to Run and the ensuing publicity that it brought to our great sport. Through it all, I was consistently inspired by three essential aspects of his life that are, to me, fundamental characteristics of his essence.

First and foremost, Caballo Blanco lived and breathed the simple life. While certainly, as some have noted, he was a complex person, with his words and deeds he espoused simplicity. Breaking life down to its bare essentials seemed to come naturally to him and running, of course, provided a perfect metaphor for the simplicity of his being. Shorts, shoes, water bottle, perhaps a shirt and/or hat and Caballo Blanco was good to go. Often in solitude but occasionally in the company of many, Caballo Blanco’s runs were simple affairs which broke life down to easily digestible parts – parts that could be controlled, savored, and, ultimately, liberated.

“Run Free” was Caballo’s unofficial motto and in many ways it characterizes what is, for many, the true meaning of running. The freedom one finds out on the trail in the mountains, or in the forest, or in Caballo’s beloved desert is often a place where the problems of the world slip away and the mind, body, and spirit can be set free. Not only did Caballo speak and write about this liberating aspect of running, he truly lived it and I believe that every day he laced up his shoes (or sandals, or nothing:) ) and headed out for a run, he became a little more free.

Finally, as most of us know, for the better part of the past 20 years, Caballo devoted himself to a life of service. After spending time with the ancient Tarahumara in their ancestral homeland in the canyons of Mexico, Caballo became committed to supporting and sustaining this sacred tribe of running people in any way he could. I imagine that in the Tarahumara Caballo saw a group of people living the values of Simplicity and Freedom in ways that few other people in the world do. As he began to work to shape his vision of a better life for these extraordinary people he did exactly the same for the rest of us, too. That was, in the end, his greatest gift.

Bottoms up!

AJW Taproom’s Beer of the Week
Caldera IPAThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from Ashland, OR. Caldera Brewing Company’s IPA is a simple IPA with a complex character. A light 6.1% ABV, it packs 92 IBU’s making it a great summer brew. It’s also, like Dale’s a couple weeks ago, served in cans, which makes it eminently portable (and drinkable) on your next outdoor adventure

Call for Comments (from Bryon)
What struck you most about El Caballo Blanco and what do you think his legacy is?

Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.