Ultrarunner Micah True Disappears
March 31, 2012 6:17 PM   Subscribe

Micah True, an ultrarunner profied in Christopher McDougall's book, Born to Run, has gone missing in New Mexico, after heading out for a 12 mile run on Tuesday. Known as Caballo Blanco in McDougall's book, he helped launch the recent barefoot running craze.
posted by katinka-katinka (56 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
:(
posted by ztdavis at 6:28 PM on March 31, 2012


Really sad, and scary, as a fellow runner.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:29 PM on March 31, 2012


I would encourage anyone who long-distance runs alone to carry a cellphone and a form of identification.
posted by Renoroc at 6:32 PM on March 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


"gone missing in NM" is a phrase that never ends well. Ugh.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:35 PM on March 31, 2012


That's awful.

Meanwhile, in better ultra news, popular first 100 miler Umstead is taking place right now in North Carolina.
posted by OmieWise at 6:41 PM on March 31, 2012


Oh no! Hope they find him soon, and in decent health.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:44 PM on March 31, 2012


"a form of identification"

I have my husband wear one of these when he bikes (alone) in case of accident, and have gotten them as gifts for other bikers/runners/hikers of our acquaintance. You can get wristbands, shoe tags, and other manners of attachment so it won't bother you. They put up with a lot of abuse.

No connection, just happy with the company.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:51 PM on March 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gah. Sad news. Hope he's okay.

I didn't start running barefoot because of him (I had somehow never heard of "Born to Run" until after I started), but I'm glad he helped popularize it. If for no other reason than I feel slightly less like That Guy while running downtown.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:57 PM on March 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Friend of mine is running the Umstead Ultra right now.


Hope they find this chap safe.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:00 PM on March 31, 2012


Eyebrows McGee, I wear a RoadID, too. Doesn't do you good if your route is isolated, though.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:05 PM on March 31, 2012


Sorry to report that he was found dead today.
posted by waterlily at 7:11 PM on March 31, 2012


I had an insightful and philosophical comment about Micah, while his fate was unknown. Now:

.
posted by SPrintF at 7:14 PM on March 31, 2012


ohno.
posted by katinka-katinka at 7:16 PM on March 31, 2012


.
posted by 221bbs at 7:28 PM on March 31, 2012


RIP.

But what in the world happened?! Unbelievable. A bit scary, for those of us who like hiking in isolated areas.
posted by VikingSword at 7:36 PM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by leotrotsky at 7:38 PM on March 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would encourage anyone who long-distance runs alone to carry a cellphone and a form of identification.

In a true wilderness situation these things are less uselful than having a plan and letting a few people know what it is - let them know your route, when you're leaving and when you're returning. Running is pretty predictable and over pretty quickly. Usually one can tell if something's wrong in a few hours of absence, and can find you quickly. Cell phones are OK but they tend to break/run out of juice/lose reception/don't work in water etc. ID is good for being knocked unconscious on your bike but it won't help much when you're good and lost.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:39 PM on March 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is sad. Please do not go into the wilderness, ever, without filing a route plan with a responsible party.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:41 PM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


That area is remote and rugged it is the only unlogged ponderosa forest still in the southwest. I grew up camping and hiking in this part of the world and know the owners of the lodge. Which is really neat and completely heated by natural hot springs. They have a water cooler not heater. It is wierd to set down on a warm toilet from the water in the tank. When first reading this i expected hime to be found partially eaten. It is possible to drive this whole road in the summer and not see another car, much less the winter. If i ever have fu money that is where i am going to forget the world. I dont think you could find a better place to spend your last days for a wilderness lover. Godspeed.
posted by bartonlong at 7:51 PM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by gentian at 7:55 PM on March 31, 2012


.
posted by genehack at 8:02 PM on March 31, 2012


Ultra-marathon runner Micah True, missing for four days in the rugged wilderness of New Mexico, was found dead on Saturday, police said (Reuters, Sat Mar 31, 2012, 10:02pm EDT)
His body was found with no obvious signs of injury, police said. A medical examiner was en route, but because of the rugged terrain his body was not likely to be retrieved until Sunday.
More information on Longmont Daily Times-Call, but not much more.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:11 PM on March 31, 2012


.
posted by mothershock at 8:12 PM on March 31, 2012


.
posted by rjc3000 at 8:22 PM on March 31, 2012


.

(The only consolation, I suppose, is that he died doing what he loves.)
posted by stroke_count at 8:27 PM on March 31, 2012


L
posted by AwkwardPause at 8:40 PM on March 31, 2012


(sorry, iPad turned . Into an L somehow). Let's just say I meant it as a bare foot.
posted by AwkwardPause at 8:41 PM on March 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Died the way he loved to live.
posted by alex_skazat at 8:44 PM on March 31, 2012


.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 9:11 PM on March 31, 2012


.

thanks for the miles. see you on the trail.

on-on.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:21 PM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"If I were to be remembered for anything at all, I would want that to be that I am/was authentic. No Mas. Run Free!"

. As he wanted to be remembered.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:26 PM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was so hoping that he would show up a day later, just having decided to turn his 13 mile run into a 31 mile one.


.
posted by raccoon409 at 9:38 PM on March 31, 2012


He led some friends on a trip through mexico's copper canyon...let's just say it was an adventure.

.
posted by schyler523 at 9:40 PM on March 31, 2012


.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:45 PM on March 31, 2012


.
posted by foodbedgospel at 9:45 PM on March 31, 2012


.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 10:12 PM on March 31, 2012


Ah, that's sad. I was hoping for better news.
posted by Forktine at 10:35 PM on March 31, 2012


ID is good for being knocked unconscious on your bike but it won't help much when you're good and lost.

This is perhaps a slightly inappropriate comment given the circumstances, but the ID isn't to help you so much as to help those who find your body. (Can you tell I've spent the week with the grandchild of a crime scene examiner?)
posted by hoyland at 10:38 PM on March 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by hangingbyathread at 11:48 PM on March 31, 2012


.

We aren't even close to knowing the cause of death yet. However, it's bizarre that just today I was discussing with relatives how a few studies have shown a link between ultramarathoning and heart disease.
posted by sbutler at 12:03 AM on April 1, 2012


So sad. :(

I didn't know Caballo Blanco well, but being an AZ trail runner -- his gf, Maria, lives here -- I encountered him a couple of times over the years at races and whatnot. Always seemed like a genuinely nice guy.

I met him for the first time at the race dinner before the Javelina Jundred, my first 100 mile ultramarathon, in 2009. At the time, at least for me, it was like meeting a rock star -- I'd read all about him in Born to Run of course, so having a chance to chat with him before the race was a huge confidence booster. I will always be grateful for that.
posted by ph00dz at 1:13 AM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


.

His story is real inspiration.
posted by cotterpin at 1:43 AM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hope he is found soon.

Eyebrows McGee - I have one of those for myself and also for my seven year old son - whenever we travel or are in places where there is the slightest chance we might get lost, he wears it. He has never had to use it yet, and hopefully never will, but if he does I am guessing I will be glad he was wearing it.
posted by Megami at 1:49 AM on April 1, 2012


Eek, just read he was found dead.

It is odd how the death of someone you have never met can have such meaning. I think not only was he an inspiration as a runner, he was a real inspiration as a human being - yes he was spectacularly good at something most of us could never hope to do, but he was also good at something we can all achieve - being a decent human being.
posted by Megami at 1:53 AM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have my husband wear one of these when he bikes (alone) in case of accident...

"gone missing in NM" is a phrase that never ends well. Ugh.


Perhaps one of these would be a more effective tool for that type of locale.
posted by fairmettle at 3:49 AM on April 1, 2012


.
posted by arcticseal at 6:45 AM on April 1, 2012


.
posted by bread-eater at 7:18 AM on April 1, 2012


Considering the body was found with no obvious signs of injury, chances are that no amount of precautions would have had him found alive and rescued. He probably died of something failing inside him, heart attack or stroke, and no registered travel plan or personal locator beacon or anything could have gotten anyone to him in time.

Sad story, but not so much. He died doing what he loved, and in a beautiful place. That's what most of us hope for aside from dying in our sleep, I think.

.
posted by hippybear at 8:07 AM on April 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Very sad, although at least he died doing what he loved doing.

There are parallels with the death of Bill Smith, a legendary UK fell runner who went missing while out on a run and was found 3 weeks later.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:00 AM on April 1, 2012


I'm curious, and I really don't mean this in any disrespect to the dead: who pays for the search and recovery effort in a case such as this? Will his family get a big fat bill, or will state, federal, or local agencies just absorb it?
posted by item at 11:59 AM on April 1, 2012


Caballo Blanco, you introduced me to a revolutionary way to plant one foot after the other. One that's more intense than shod running. More peaceful. More serene. More natural. More pleasurable. More grounded. More centered. More playful. More childlike. More joyous. More high-spirited. More absorbing. More addictive. More meditative. More spiritual. More minimalist. More.

Minimalist running isn't for everybody. It may not be for anybody. It should be approached with caution and respect and fear and trepidation. I may end in pain and suffering, ruing the day I'd ever bought that copy of Born to Run at Amazon. But if I do, bury me in a pair of well-worn Vibram Bilikas, size 41, with the toes pointing up and the $89 price tag dangling from the heel.
posted by Gordion Knott at 12:50 PM on April 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


.

He sure as hell inspired me. May you run forever in heaven, Caballo Blanco.
posted by bearwife at 4:34 PM on April 1, 2012


I'm curious, and I really don't mean this in any disrespect to the dead: who pays for the search and recovery effort in a case such as this? Will his family get a big fat bill, or will state, federal, or local agencies just absorb it?
posted by item


Policies with respect to this vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Generally, in North America, the majority if not all of SAR costs are absorbed by the agencies responsible, but volunteer organizations shoulder a considerable portion of the cost and man-power burden. Absent a deliberate abuse of regulations, it is very rare for rescued persons to be assessed costs, but it can happen under some circumstances. Certainly policies about this are being reevaluated.

Entering the back-country without a trip-plan, especially alone, is needlessly dangerous, and sometimes places others at risk. In this specific case, it sounds like it might have been a heart-attack, and it's possible that no precautions he might have taken would have resulted in a different outcome. However, his decision to head off into the wilderness so poorly-equipped, and without telling anyone specifically where he was going, and the latest expected return time might have been a contributing factor in this sad event. What is certain is that these decisions resulted in a less efficient rescue process, with far higher resource costs than would have been the case, otherwise.

Experienced back-country users won't enter the wilderness alone, but recognize that some users feel compelled to do so. For those users who insist on doing this, taking minimal measures to ensure their safety seems a respectful and prudent thing to do. Our own policy is to assume that any wilderness excursion can result in injury or an unexpected stay, and to never assume that any trip will necessarily be a day trip.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:30 PM on April 1, 2012


For those users who insist on doing this, taking minimal measures to ensure their safety seems a respectful and prudent thing to do. Our own policy is to assume that any wilderness excursion can result in injury or an unexpected stay, and to never assume that any trip will necessarily be a day trip.

This, a thousand times this.

WHERE & WHEN are two of the most important things for runners who venture out. Always let someone know where you plan on running and when they should expect you back.

.
posted by Fizz at 8:46 AM on April 2, 2012


For a runner like Micah, a 12 mile trail run was typically done in just about 2 hours, maybe a bit more or less depending on the terrain, and was a typical daily run. He knew where he was going. The problem in finding him was they assume he took a shortcut between two trails that were not too far apart in order to circle back. He suffered a heart attack or some other sudden medical problem in that short link -- which was not more than 500 feet off of either trail. He was found with his water bottle half full, indicating whatever happened was about halfway on his run.

Some folks here are saying he should have filed some sort of route plan. I don't know about that. Maybe if he was planning something beyond a known trail system? He knew the Gila trails well and had run on them for over 15 years. Also there are not too many people who could run the distances and lengths he did. Even Guadajuko, his dog who typically ran all the time with Micah, was resting sore paws from the run the day before.

Carrying a cellphone probably would have helped to locate him though. It is a remote area but not without other people on the trail. Other hikers and runners saw him on his run and when they realized he was missing they reported their observations to the searchers which helped narrow the search. He stuck to the trail except for that one portion which unfortunately made it difficult to find him. He was an experienced wilderness guide and would never have wanted to place anyone in danger on his account.

He was also a friend and he will be missed. Caballito runs in your honor this year, Micah. "Light, easy, smooth..."
posted by rjc3000 at 9:53 PM on April 2, 2012


Some folks here are saying he should have filed some sort of route plan. I don't know about that. Maybe if he was planning something beyond a known trail system?

This seems logical, but is actually a dangerous misconception. The false sense of security created just because one is on a trail is precisely the problem. Known trails are where the majority of users run into problems out-doors.

Carrying a cellphone probably would have helped to locate him though.

Relying on technology to provide location information is a useful secondary precaution, but technology can fail, batteries die, ( especially in survival situations) or there might not be any coverage. Had Micah taken a few moments to let the lodge-owner know where he was going, as opposed to "out for a run" it's possible that a better outcome might have resulted.

Certainly a more focused search, based on known data (as opposed to vague conjecture) is a more desirable circumstance for time-sensitive rescue operations. Prudent users always let others know their intended route, any possible alternates, and the latest expected return time, when entering any wilderness area. It only takes a minute.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:15 PM on April 3, 2012


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