The Sunday Read: Tarahumara drug mules

Okay, I know it’s not Sunday. But yesterday was Canada Day, eh, and being a Canuckle-head and all, it was a day off. And I’d call this The Monday Read, but that would be just downright confusing. In any event, I hope all the Canadians had a great Canada Day, and I wish all my American readers a Happy Fourth of July. And, now, onto the news….

The modern world is increasingly impinging upon Mexico’s once-isolated Tarahumara Indians with ugly consequences. A Newsweek article details how their same incredible endurance and stamina which allows the Tarahumara to run phenomenal distances has made them prey to gangsters who began hiring them as drug mules as early as 2007. “Cartel operatives enlist impoverished Tarahumara Indians to make a grueling odyssey running drugs by foot across the border to the U.S.,” writes journalist Aram Roston. The drug barons offer the Indians up to $800 to haul a 50-pound backpack full of grass some 50 miles over the U.S. border. The story is here:

Endurance running and veganism is a hot topic thanks to Scott Jurek’s newly published memoir, Eat & Run, all about the author’s success as an ultramarathoner existing on a plant-based diet. The New York Times quickly noticed the trend too and convened three nutrition experts (none vegan, though) to discuss whether athletes perform better on a vegan diet. The chat is lively, as evidenced by this comment from David C. Nieman, a professor of health and exercise science at Appalachian State University, who’s run 58 marathons or ultramarathons and has studied runners at extreme events (including Jurek).  Asked to comment on the sense that athletes feels they should become vegan because of Eat & Run and other, similar books, Neiman calls Jurek, “a great guy — opinionated, sure, but he’s been very successful as a racer, so he can have opinions. But runners always think they have inside information on nutrition. They don’t. It’s my duty as a scientist to separate out the hype from what’s been validated.” Read the discussion here:

Do you nod at other runners, maybe even wave? Then you’re talking in code, the runner’s code. Over at the National Post, Ben Kaplan makes a big deal out of a lost-and-found Garmin. To that he adds a couple of anecdotal interviews and – presto – it’s a runner’s code!    How about that? People are nice to each other, as it turns out…even runners! Especially runners! It’s a nice world out there….Hilariously, Kaplan talks to one old codger who equates not waving with anti-Americanism. Damn Communists! They’re everywhere.

In the U.S., the news of the Supreme Court declared the Affordable Health Care constitutional sparked a foot-race among the press corps. The photo gallery over at NPR is brilliant, but personally, I don’t get it: are they racing for a pay phone? Did the Blackberry network crash again? Surely, with news of that magnitude they were’t sprinting for a line of distant computers. My personal experience as a national journalist reporting breaking hard news is you’d call the story in to the desk, who’d quickly fashion the first paragraphs for online and then you’d start to follow up with the full story for online and print. Anyway, if you like pictures of journalists running, they’re over here:

Not to make you paranoid or anything, but you’re out running and suddenly a crazed maniac lunges toward you and tries to take you down! …be still my beating heart. Joking aside, it’s true that if you’re running on your own, you need to be aware of your surroundings and never stop to give directions to anyone – even if that violates the “runner’s code.”  A post about Safety First: 10 Tips to Avoid Violent Crime While Running might sound melodramatic, but the Adventures in Running blog offers sound advice worth absorbing. Read it here:


About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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4 Responses to The Sunday Read: Tarahumara drug mules

  1. Rob Jackson says:

    I love the pictures of the reporters running to air the Obamacare story. Many of them were better runners than readers, because a number of news organizations broke the story as the US Supreme Court having STRUCK DOWN the Obama Bill. They had to recant later when, as I suspect happened, the reporters realized they had read from the dissenting decision of four judges, not realizing the majority decision of five judges had carried the day.

  2. Chris says:

    “The one issue is vitamin B12, which is found only in meat; B12 is important for endurance athletes, since it affects red blood cell production. But many cereals and soy milks are fortified with B12 now, or you can take supplements.”

    For someone who is trying to separate “hype” from “science” maybe he should note that B12 actually comes from BACTERIA, and not meat per se. It’s the same bacteria in our guts (it’s just too low in our intestines to absorb it properly). It’s this kind of belief that someone we are “natural” carnivores that makes anti-vegan hype.

    It’s sad to hear about drug cartels preying on Tarahumara poverty. It’s really sad seeing once proud indigenous groups turned into what are essentially slaves.

    • subthree says:

      I’ve found in general that the NYT’s takes a skeptical view when it comes to veggie/veganism. They’re run recipes, but generally their health writers seem less than keen on the idea and their bias seeps into their stories. Thanks for reading.

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