Rarámuri runners braved some cold Canadian weather last week to finish in the top three in three different categories.
Santiago Ramírez and his two children, Juana and Mario, of Guachochi, Chihuahua, were finalists in the Polar Bear Marathon in Churchill, Manitoba, where the temperature plunged to -20 C.
Ramírez finished first in the 50-kilometer ultramarathon, while Mario placed second in the full marathon of 42 kilometers.
The youngest of the Ramírez family team was also a winner. Juana entered the half marathon and came in first.
The courses of the three marathons follow the shore of Hudson Bay where the weather was just one of the natural obstacles the runners faced. There is also an abundance of polar bears in the vicinity, not something the Rarámuri runners have encountered in the mountains of Chihuahua.
Participants in this year’s Polar Bear Marathon were aware of the prowess of the Rarámuri (also known as Tarahumara) but few had had the chance to race against them.
A German runner was quoted as saying he realized he was not going to win this year when learned that Santiago Ramírez was entering the race.
Winners of the Polar Bear Marathon are awarded symbolic prizes including medals, stuffed polar bears and soapstone figurines by a local sculptor.
“We’re thankful for having the opportunity to participate in the Polar Bear Marathon and for the time we’ve been together [with the other runners],” said Mario Ramírez, who was also grateful for the invitation to attend.