Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Halted by COVID, annual tortilla race resumes in Tehuacán, Puebla

A much-awaited tortilla race returned to a Puebla city on Sunday with runners raring to go after two years of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 300 indigenous women of all ages from Santa María Coapan convened at the municipal palace in nearby Tehuacán at 9 a.m. with stacks of tortillas at the ready for the 28th edition of the famous race.

Adorned with aprons, traditional embroidered blouses, leather huarache sandals and woven baskets full of corn tortillas, the runners lined up to tackle the 4.5 kilometer course. Some ran barefoot.

Different races were held for various age categories, which included youth, veteran and an open category. The children’s race kicked off proceedings, and some of the young competitors set off at full pelt, only to quickly hit a wall of dehydration which forced them to slow to a more comfortable pace.

The starting countdown to the women’s free race.

 

In one video of the races, women are seen at the starting line in traditional dress singing together. They hear the buzzer and speed off, carrying large bags of tortillas on their backs, some weighing 6 kilograms, the newspaper El Universal said.

The race, celebrated every August 7, pays tribute to the journey that the women of Santa María Coapan traditionally have taken for years from their town to Tehuacán, where they sell their tortillas at Tehuacán’s public market. In 2017, the race was officially named part of the cultural heritage of Tehuacán.

Fernando Ríos Rocha, head of the state’s office of plastic arts and cultural development, said that the race was a symbolic one that reinforced Puebla’s traditions.

However, the race was not all that symbolic to many of the competitors. Several took to the contest like ducks to water, saying they were accustomed to carrying a heavy load of tortillas for sale in baskets every morning; some support their entire families with their sales.

Before the race’s start, competitors underwent a pre-Hispanic ritual

 

One runner, Nayeli Morales de Jesús, said she started making and selling tortillas when she was 10 years old. Morales joined her first race four years ago. She told the news site E-Consulta that her tortillas have reached Colombia, Spain and Germany and urged authorities in Tehuacán to help support food and tortilla sellers in Santa María Coapan.

The victor in the children’s category, Luz Janet de Jesús Muñoz, carried three kilograms in her basket. María de los Ángeles Zamora Leal again took the crown in the free category, having won the last edition in 2019.

With reports from E-Consulta

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