Tortilla racers in Coapan on Sunday. Tortilla racers in Coapan on Sunday.

160 run to celebrate the handmade tortilla

The 25th annual Race of the Tortilla was held Sunday in Santa María Coapan

One hundred and sixty women ran four and a half kilometers Sunday carrying up to 10 kilograms of tortillas on their backs in an annual celebration of their traditional occupation: the elaboration, distribution and sale of handmade tortillas.

Women and girls from the community of Santa María Coapan, barefoot or in sandals, ran to the city of Tehuacán, Puebla, for the Race of the Tortilla, following the route they walk every day to sell their tortillas door to door.

It was the 25th year for the race, held by the women of Coapan to keep their traditions alive among younger generations. An estimated 70% of the town’s women are employed making tortillas by hand.

On Sunday, women of all ages — grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters — participated in the race; the youngest competitor was three years old, while the oldest was 68.

First-time competitor Itzel, 10, told the news agency EFE that she proudly joined the race to help preserve her town’s traditions.

Abigail Marcelino Feliciano and her eight-year-old daughter were also first-time contestants. Out of breath after running for some 20 minutes, Marcelino said “traditions are lost every day and we fail to teach them . . . . [But] we’re in time to recover them.”

Ernestina, 62, a second-place winner in her age category, she recalled her childhood when she carried as much as 15 kilograms, walking to Tehuacán and delivering tortillas barefoot “because we had no huaraches [sandals].”

Cecilia Flores, 66, has participated in the race for the last 22 years and won first place in her category on Sunday. “This tradition must not be lost, we must continue to participate [because] Coapan is the cradle of tortillas. God willing, I’ll participate next year,” the veteran tortilla vendor said.

Santa María Coapan

This year the race was acknowledged by local authorities as part of the cultural heritage of Tehuacán.

The people of Santa María Coapan also want special certification from the federal Secretariat of Culture, and recognition by the Mexican Track and Field Federation for what they describe as a unique competition in Mexico.

Source: Sin Embargo (sp)


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