In 2006, Christopher McDougall set off on an adventure in search of the Tarahumara Indians, a reclusive running tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. On that journey, later to be chronicled in McDougall’s book, Born to Run (and also later documented in a 2012 New York Times story by Barry Bearak), McDougall befriended the Caballo Blanco—real name: Micah True—a nomadic ultrarunner living among them. Several years later, after hearing the Caballo had disappeared in the Gila National Forest, he and other runners embark on a quest to find their friend:

Caballo was the first runner I’d ever seen who busted out big miles in skimpy sandals, and he opened my eyes to the idea that distance running is humankind’s first fine art; for most of our existence, it was the one natural weapon we had in a world dominated by creatures who could out-swim, out-sprint, out-climb, and out-fight us. I was certain when I went down to the Copper Canyons that I really had nothing to learn: I figured the Tarahumara were genetic freaks and my own running days were over due to chronic injuries. Then I meet Caballo, my eerie astral twin: we were the same height, the same shoe size, and the same age when we first encountered the Tarahumara, and he’d also struggled with broken-down legs. He took me into the hills, showed me a few things, and sent me home with the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Tarahumara were custodians of a transferable skill that even an overweight mope like me could master.

That’s why he has fans all over the world. But right when the rest of us were catching up to him, Caballo disappeared.

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Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.