Weekend Warm-Up: Goshen

A group of indigenous long-distance runners in Mexico rarely get sick

Deep in the Copper Mountains of Mexico is the key to all our health problems. The world is wrought with disease and decreasing life expectancy, the unfortunate result of our dependence on consumerism and easy living. But we weren’t always that way. Humans were built to exercise, to move, to be strong and live in the wild. The Tarahumara, also known as the Raramuri of Chihuahua, Mexico, are outstanding examples of how we can live differently. 

Tarahumara people. Photo: Shutterstock


The Tarahumara are famous for their ability to run very long distances, up to 350km. The very name Raramuri translates to runners on foot. They run with little to no footwear, which aids them in their endurance feats. Should they wear shoes, their usual go-to are huaraches, flat sandals made from goat leather. This footwear allows them to run in a springy way which mimics running barefoot and forces them to have good form and better posture. Researchers have found that they run better than people who wear normal running shoes. Remarkably, these flat sandals can handle the tough and rocky terrain. 

Endurance is a key component of their culture, as they believe that it is their sacred duty to keep the world spinning on its axis by running. Every year, their main festival, the Rarajipari, is a ceremonial ball game that requires incredible amounts of stamina. The men’s race consists of kicking or hitting a hand-carved wooden ball with a long stick in a relay fashion. The ball is carried for several kilometres and in teams.

The women’s race is similar except with a hoop. Young people, middle-aged, children, and even some elders in their 90s participate. There is no pomp and ceremony with grand prizes and finish lines, only a focus on pleasing their creator and having fun within the community. 

Tarahumara child running. Photo: Shutterstock


Scientists have found that the Tarahumara diet is one of the best in the world, as the group is considered a “cold spot” for diseases. Health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, and anxiety have not made their way to this community for several reasons. They practice subsistence farming, and their diet includes some of the best anti-inflammatory, high-protein, and cancer-fighting vitamins and minerals. Unprocessed corn, beans, squash, herbs, and many other vegetables fuel their long runs. Ox, chicken, and goat meat are rare treats. The Tarahumara debunk the popular myth that runners can’t be vegetarians. 

The Tarahumara’s lifestyle has attracted people from far and wide and inspired them to live more minimally. They remind us that it is possible to go far with just a little.