The Tarahumara runners of Mexico are known to be some of the best marathon runners in the world, this has come about due to their lifestyle which relies greatly on being able to run great distances. In fact, their tribe is called Raramuri people, which translates into “The Running People.”
Home to Northern Mexico’s rugged mountain region of Sierra Madre, these indigenous tribes went deep into the mountains during the 16th century. It was a way to escape the slave raids and attacks by the Spanish conquistadors. And it worked perfectly, they lived peacefully isolated from the world for over hundreds of years.
Deep in the mountains, they learned how to grow their crops on the most rugged of terrains, surviving off corn, potatoes, and beans. And they were able to safely live in the natural caves found around these mountains, usually, there was a complex network of trails which linked different Rancheras.
Rancheras were small communities of around 3 to 7 families which all worked and shared the same farmland. Delivering messages between the separated Rancheras was always needed and it had to be done swiftly, therefore running became a normal part of their lifestyle. And it was also present in hunting, where their main tactic was to simply follow a deer until it became exhausted.
Their whole culture revolves around running with multiple games designed to start running from an early age such as chasing a ball down mountain trails for hours or even days. Notably, they only wear sandals to allow the full natural movement of feet during running, their technique involves keeping their weight on the balls of their feet rather than their heels.
And the great part is, if you ever see a Tarahumara runner going through the mountains you can see that running is simply a joy to them. Their smiles are infectious and they never seem to feel the fatigue or see it as a chore. Running is a fun part of their lifestyle which keeps them extremely happy. They don’t run for exercise, it is just a part of their normal way of living and what they see as the funniest part of their existence.