Tarahumaran long distance runner Silvino Cubesare Quimare arrived in Spain exhausted from a long season of harvesting corn in his native Mexico. But that didn’t stop him from taking home first prize in the Trail Peñalara 60 kilometer race (37 miles), an international competition he was able to attend thanks to support from Mexico’s CDI (National Commision for the Development of Indigenous People).
After finishing as champion, the 38-year-old agricultural worker spoke in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Diario, humbly deflecting his accomplishment. “It was my intention to run the 115 kilometer race, but I didn’t because I was tired from the corn harvest and felt a little sick for a few days. This time I wasn’t ready to run so many kilometers. My compliments to those who finished it,” he said. (For the record, the 60k race he ran is 11 miles longer than a marathon).
As for most Tarahumaran long-distance runners, for running isn’t a profession as much as it is a lifestyle. Running is his community’s main form of transportation. Children learn the skill from their parents at a very early age, and it becomes an essential means to bring goods to their often deprived communities.
The Tarahumaran people live in Northwestern Mexico, where the land and climate conditions are very harsh. It’s unusual for someone from this marginalized community to score a free ticket to Europe on the government’s dime; although Cubesare has won other prestigious international competitions – and even met the president of Mexico – when he returns home, he’ll surely have to go back to the tough life of the agricultural worker in order to sustain his family.
For more on the Tarahumara community, read our feature Still, They Endure: The Paradox of Mexico’s Legendary Tarahumara Runners.