Sports Illustrated online has a short piece about Asheville locals Will Harlan and Mickey Mahaffey, who have been, of late, raising funds for the Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyons, in Mexico. The Tarahumara, who are world-famous long-distance runners, are facing a severe drought this season.
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.
Harlan is raising funds currently. Donations can be made via his website at barefootfarm.org seed fund
And here’s more from Mickey Mahaffey:
On Sunday, January 29, over 300 Tarahumara gathered in the Copper Canyons for the second annual Urique Rarajipari and Ariweta. Thanks to your generous contributions, we sent them home with over four tons of food and provided them with transportation to their various homes around the canyons. Fifty men and women participated as runners. The teams from Batopilas took the win and were awarded bags of food and cash prizes. Many attended the event because of extreme hunger due to the prolonged drought in many parts of the canyons.
The woman who finished first for the second place women’s team walked about six hours from her home in the hopes of winning food for her family. She has eight kids and lives under a tree without any semblance of a home. Her husband was killed by drug traffickers. She was so timid she didn’t even come forward to accept her prizes of food and cash. We arranged extra food for her and provided a ride for her family back down river.