Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Inspiring Novel > Born to Run > Chapter 21
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
Chapter 21
“PREPARE TO MEET your god,” I said as we entered the hotel bar. “Sucking down a cold one.”

Scott was on a stool, sipping a Fat Tire Ale. Billy dropped his duffel and stuck out his hand, whileJenn hung behind me. She’d barely let Billy get a word in the whole way across the parking lot,but now, in Scott’s presence, she was starstruck. At least I thought she was, till I saw the look inher eye. She wasn’t bashful; she was sizing him up. Scott might be hunting the Tarahumara, buthe’d better watch who was hunting him.

“Is this all of us?” Scott asked.

I looked around the bar and did a head count. Jenn and Billy were ordering beers. Beside them wasEric Orton, an adventure-sports coach from Wyoming and longtime student of the Tarahumarawho’d made me his personal disaster reconstruction project; over the past nine months, we’d beenin weekly contact, sometimes daily, as Eric attempted to transform me from a splintery wreck intoan unbreakable ultramarathon man. He was the one guy I’d been sure would turn up; even thoughhe’d be leaving his wife behind with their newborn daughter in the middle of a fierce Wyomingwinter, there was no way he’d be sitting at home while I was putting his art to the test. I’d flat-outtold him he was wrong and there was no way I could run fifty miles; now, we’d both see if he wasright.

Sandwiching Scott were Luis Escobar and his father, Joe Ramírez. Luis was not only an ultrastudwho’d won the H.U.R.T. 100 and raced Badwater, but also one of the top race photographers in thesport (his artistry aided, of course, by the fact that his legs could take him places no other shooterscould reach). Just by chance, Luis had recently called Scott to make sure they’d be seeing eachother at Coyote Fourplay, a semi-secret, invitation-only free-for-all described as “a four-day orgyof idiocy involving severed coyote heads, poisoned snacks, panties in trees, and one hundredtwenty miles of trails you’ll wish you’d missed.”

Fourplay is held at the end of February every year in the backwoods of Oxnard, California, and itexists to give a small band of ultrarunners a chance to whip each other’s butts and then glue saidbutts to toilet seats. Every day, the Fourplayers race anywhere from thirty to fifty miles on trailsmarked by mummified coyote skulls and women’s underwear. Every night, they face off withbowling tournaments and talent shows and endless guerrilla pranks, like replacing ProBars withfrozen cat food and gluing the wrappers back shut. Fourplay was a battle royal for amateurs wholoved to run hard and play rough; it wasn’t really for pros who had to worry about their racingschedules and sponsorship commitments. Naturally, Scott never missed it.

Until 2006, that is. “Sorry, something came up,” Scott told Luis. When Luis heard what it was, hisheart skipped a beat. No one had ever gotten photos of Tarahumara runners in full flight on theirhome turf, and for good reason: the Tarahumara run for fun, and having white devils aroundwasn’t any fun. Their races were spontaneous and secretive and absolutely hidden from outsideeyes. But if Caballo pulled this thing off, then a few lucky devils would get the chance to crossover to the Tarahumara side. For the first time, they’d all be Running People together.

Luis’s dad, Joe, has the chiseled-oak face, gray ponytail, and turquoise rings of a Native Americansage, but he’s actually a former migrant worker who, in his hard-scrapping sixty-plus years, madehimself into a California highway patrolman, then a chef, and finally an artist with a flair for thecolors and culture of his native Mexico. When Joe heard his kid was heading into the homeland tosee their ancestral heroes in action, he set his jaw and insisted he was going, too. The hike alonecould, quite literally, kill him, but Joe wasn’t worried. Even more than the ultrastuds around him,this son of the picking fields was a survivor.

“How about that barefoot guy?” I asked. “Is he still coming?”

A few months before, someone who called himself “Barefoot Ted” began blitzing Caballo with atorrent of messages. He seemed to be the Bruce Wayne of barefoot running, the wealthy heir of aCalifornia amusement-park fortune who devoted himself to battling the worst crime evercommitted against the human foot: the invention of the running shoe. Barefoot Ted believed wecould abolish foot injuries by throwing away our Nikes, and he was willing to prove it on himself:

he ran the Los Angeles and Santa Clarita marathons in his bare feet and finished fast enough toqualify for the elite Boston Marathon. He was rumored to train by running barefoot in the SanGabriel Mountains, and by pulling his wife and daughter through the streets of Burbank in arickshaw. Now, he was coming to Mexico to commune with the Tarahumara and explore whetherthe key to their amazing resilience was their nearly bare feet.

“He left a message that he’d be getting here later,” Luis said.

“I guess that’s everyone, then. Caballo is going to be psyched.”

“So what’s the story with this guy?” Scott asked.

I shrugged. “I don’t really know much. I only met him once.”

Scott’s eyes narrowed. Billy and Jenn turned from the bar and cocked their heads, suddenly moreinterested in me than the beers they were ordering. The atmosphere of the whole group instantlychanged. Seconds ago, everyone was drinking and chatting, but now, it was quiet and a little tense.

“What?” I asked.

“I thought you were really good buddies,” Scott said.

“Buddies? Not even close,” I said. “He’s a total mystery. I don’t even know where he lives. I don’teven know his real name.”

“So how do you know he’s legit?” Joe Ramírez asked. “Shit, he may not even know anyTarahumara.”

“They know him,” I said. “All I can tell you is what I wrote. He’s kind of strange, he’s a hell of arunner, and he’s been down there for a long time. That’s all I found out about him.”

Everyone sat for a sec and drank that in, myself included. So why were we trusting Caballo? I’dgotten so carried away with training for the race, I’d forgotten that the real challenge was survivingthe trip. I had no clue who Caballo really was, or where he was leading us. He could be totallydemented or merrily inept, and the result would be the same: out there in the Barrancas, we’d becooked.

“So!” Jenn blurted. “What are you guys up for tonight? I promised Billy some big-ass margaritas.”

If the rest of the crew had hit a crossroad of doubt, they’d put it behind them. Scott and Luis andEric and Joe all agreed to pile into the hotel courtesy van with Jenn and Billy and head downtownfor drinks. Not me, though. We had a lot of hard miles ahead, and I wanted all the rest I could get.

Unlike the rest of them, I’d been down there before. I knew what we were heading into.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I was jerked awake by shouting nearby. Very nearby—like,in my room. Then, a BANG shook the bathroom.

“Billy, get up!” someone yelled.

“Leemee here. I’m fine.”

“You’ve got to get up!”

I snapped on a light, and saw Eric Orton, the adventure-sports coach, standing in the doorway.

“The kids,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t know, man.”

“Is everyone all right?”

“I don’t know, man.”

I sat up, still groggy, and went to the door of the bathroom. Billy was sprawled in the tub with hiseyes closed. Pink vomit was splattered all over his shirt… and the toilet… and the floor. Jenn hadlost h............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved