why ultra x mex­ico is going to be a bit spe­cial

It’s easy to get excited about organ­iz­ing events when you travel to some of the places that we do. The Cop­per Canyons in Chi­hua­hua has gone bey­ond the norm.

As is the case for any Ultra X event, before the recce’s there is sub­stan­tial time spent on due dili­gence, speak­ing with loc­al author­it­ies, tour guides and to those who have traveled to the region in the past. We were aware of the Canyons’ ultra run­ning his­tory, being the home of the Rara­muri, “The Run­ning People”, whom were made fam­ous in the book “Born to Run”, and the fam­ous nat­ur­al beauty of the region which draws tour­ists every year from all over the world. How­ever, what we were not aware of was just how out of this world this area was. When we ascen­ded our first canyon and turned our backs to see the view, it was that same feel­ing we got when we first vis­ited Wadi Rum (for Ultra X Jordan) 5 years ago. That feel­ing of ‘oh my gosh, we have to have a race here’.

There are so many dif­fer­ent aspects and chal­lenges to this race that make it unique, more so than our oth­er races. As we depar­ted our final recce we found ourselves count­ing down the days to Novem­ber 2nd. It’s 155 by the way.

Some of the unique ele­ments about Ultra X Mex­ico.

The Route — “Magic to Magic”

The course takes com­pet­it­ors between two of Mexico’s “Magic Towns” from Creel to Batopilas, so called as they offer vis­it­ors a “magic­al” exper­i­ence due to their nat­ur­al beauty, cul­tur­al rich­ness, tra­di­tions, folk­lore, his­tor­ic­al rel­ev­ance, cuisine and great hos­pit­al­ity. The first check­point on Stage 1 takes com­pet­it­ors through the main plaza of Creel where run­ners can expect streets lined with loc­als sup­port­ing them before they head off into the wil­der­ness of canyon coun­try! Five days and 250 km later they will be arriv­ing into the main plaza of Batopilas for one hell of a party- Chi­hua­hua style!

The Cop­per Canyons have some of the world’s most beau­ti­ful trails, yet due to lack of resources, tour­ism and prop­er man­age­ment the major­ity of these are totally unmapped and unman­aged. As part of our com­mit­ment to the region and in part­ner­ship with a team of Amer­ic­ans we will be cre­at­ing a new and fully marked trail in the region — The Cam­ino del Cobre. This will hope­fully bring eco-tour­ism and money to the region. The run­ners who com­pete in Ultra X Mex­ico 2019 will be the first people to run the entire route and as such who­ever crosses the fin­ish line on Day 5 first will hold the course FKT!

Parts of the trail have seen less than 100 non-Mex­ic­ans EVER, and the Ultra X founders rep­res­ent two of them 😉

Born to Run

The Cop­per Canyons were first made fam­ous by Chris­toph­er McDougall’s book “Born to Run” which doc­u­ments the story of one of the last truly indi­gen­ous pop­u­la­tions in the world — the Ramaruri and the form­a­tion of a legendary race in the region- The Caballo Blanco Ultra Mara­thon. Due to widely dis­persed set­tle­ments and hos­tile ter­rain, the Ramaruri have developed a tra­di­tion of long-dis­tance run­ning and can run up to 200 miles in one ses­sion for inter-vil­lage com­mu­nic­a­tion, trans­port or hunt­ing. They still run wear­ing their tra­di­tion­al dress (see image below), which includes san­dals made of tyres and leath­er strap­ping (Huar­aches). Not only will our com­pet­it­ors spend the first part of stage four doing a sec­tion of The Caballo Blanco course, we are thrilled to have 15 loc­al Ramaruri com­pet­ing in the race! Our run­ners will have the oppor­tun­ity to run with them and live with them over the week, some­thing totally unique to this race and nev­er exper­i­enced before in the region.

Part of the allure of the event is of course being in the same loc­a­tion as the fam­ous book, but this is only part of it: ever since the Cop­per Canyons were dis­covered by explorers in the late 19th cen­tury they have drawn tour­ists from the world over to see the immense nat­ur­al beauty of the region.

If you haven’t read the book yet, do not fear! Every­one who signs down gets their own copy with their race num­ber, signed by the team from Ultra X which will then be passed down to your cor­res­pond­ing num­ber every year.



The Chal­lenge of the Canyons

This is going to be toughest multi-stage race on the plan­et. Over 11,000 metres of elev­a­tion across wild, remote and moun­tain­ous ter­rain awaits those who are brave enough to attempt it. The race also takes place between 800 and 2,500 metres above sea level, not enough for alti­tude sick­ness, but enough to feel it in the lungs and legs trust us!

On the Thursday, a legendary long stage will set com­pet­it­ors off at the crack of dawn. Runners/walkers will be led by the moon and their own head torches. This stage will include a sec­tion of the fam­ous Caballo Blanco Ultra before the run­ners pass through the main streets of Urique at the half way point. They will then begin the climb from river to rim (Urique is the low­est point in the Cop­per Canyons) where they will camp in Pierre Redon­dre, which offers amaz­ing views over the days route. For some this will take 18 hours, but as long as you make it in before mid­night you will have com­pleted the beast! Once you have made it this far it is simply a 40 km ‘dash’ to the fin­ish line which will be a test for those whose legs have any­thing left. This dash is a in fact a 1,500 metre drop con­sist­ing of numer­ous switch backs before end­ing in Batopilas Canyon where a hero’s wel­come awaits.

The Ath­letes

If the 15 Tarahu­mara run­ners join­ing us is not enough, how about the fact that three of the world’s best are going to be join­ing us for this race and cre­at­ing a team of cham­pi­ons.

We are delighted to announce that pro-ath­letes Jason Sch­larb, one of 2018’s ‘Ultra Run­ners of the Year’ (AltraR­unning, Ulti­mate­Dir­ec­tion, Spring Energy, Flora and Epi­cbar), Meredith Edwards, podi­um fin­ish­er at UTMB TDS/Oman and many more (Altra, Camel­bak, Spring Energy and Leki) and Gedi­m­i­nas Grini­us (AltraR­unning and Vibram) pre­vi­ous win­ner of the Ultra Trail World Tour are going to be in Mex­ico. We’ve also got the amaz­ing and cha­ris­mat­ic Ian Mor­gan and Fran Gonzales join­ing us from Chile. We are so excited to wel­come them out to Mex­ico.

The Check­points

The 250km trail is mostly inac­cess­ible by vehicles. This means that check­points are not every 10 km and instead have been dic­tated by access­ib­il­ity so that we can bring water, shel­ter, mas­sage beds and our crew to the run­ners as is neces­sary.

The major­ity of check­points are less than 10 kilo­met­ers apart and have been stra­tegic­ally posi­tioned to show­case the very best views in the region.
One of the most dif­fi­cult sec­tions of the week, a 9 kilo­metre stretch along the rim of Urique Canyon lead­ing to check­point four fin­ishes in an aban­doned hotel over­look­ing the Canyons. It is quite simply one of the most stun­ning spots that are recce team have ever seen — unin­ter­rup­ted hori­zon span­ning 180 degrees from the out­stretched hotel bal­cony. Here, shade and shel­ter will be wait­ing along with our now legendary crew of Osteo­paths and crew.

Com­pet­it­ors can also expect to see sev­er­al “Don­key Check­points” on the course. These will be check­points set up by loc­al don­keys led by their indi­gen­ous guides, ensur­ing that there are no stretches were there is a risk of com­pet­it­ors not being able to top up their water sup­plies.



Don’t for­get about Pedro. Pedro, AKA the “Am-mule-lance” will be bring­ing up the rear each day as well as col­lect­ing the mark­ings off the course and rep­res­ent­ing the cut-off time. If Pedro catches you, you’re out. You shouldn’t have too much to worry about though because Pedro is 27 years old and can feel every year of those in his little legs. That being said, in mat­ing sea­son, Pedro has been known to have some very lively days. His speed can to triple over the tech­nic­al course. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t have one of those days dur­ing the event, as all but the pros may be caught off guard by the stal­lion.

The After­party

Fin­ish­ing in the Magic Town of Batopilas is going to be mem­or­able for many reas­ons. Not only will the run­ners have com­pleted one of the toughest footraces on earth but it is time for the cel­eb­ra­tions to kick off — which means the entire muni­cip­al­ity of Batopilas will be des­cend­ing on the main plaza where the run­ners will be cross­ing the blue Ultra X arches.

There will be a batch of loc­al corn beer, Tes­guino, brewed spe­cially for the occa­sion (it can­not be stored for more than 24 hours so must be drunk imme­di­ately), Lechuguilla (a loc­al cac­tus moon­shine) up for grabs as well as a huge BBQ in the main square where a whole bull will be offered to the fin­ish­ers. There will of course be Veget­ari­an and Vegan options. The com­ing togeth­er of inter­na­tion­al, nation­al and Rara­muri run­ners for this epic chal­lenge is what makes Ultra X Mex­ico so spe­cial and this event will be a cel­eb­ra­tion of that.

Before the prize giv­ing there will be a chance for the com­pet­it­ors to sit back and watch some oth­ers run­ning as there will be a race around the streets of the town for the loc­al chil­dren and we will be encour­aging our crew to also get involved in this beau­ti­ful event!

Regis­tra­tions for this race are now open and lim­ited to only 50 for 2019.

Sign down here before it is too late.

We don’t expect these places to be avail­able for long!


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