Rarámuri Women Make History in Motion

Sofia Jones
 | April 8, 2024

Six Rarámuri women just made athletic history. These indigenous athletes shattered records, conquering 340 miles from California to Nevada in a mere 52 hours during the grueling Speed Project ultramarathon.

“Wearing huaraches (sandals) rather than running shoes, the brightly dressed Ra Ra Ra Team completed the 335-mile race in just over two full days and nights of running as a relay group — without stopping, one of the few rules of the invitation-only event that’s shrouded in mystery,” Mexico News Daily writes.

But who are these elite runners? And how exactly did the Rarámuri women make history in motion?

The Rarámuri Women

The Rarámuri, also known as the Tarahumara, are an indigenous group hailing from the rugged Sierra Tarahumara region in Chihuahua, Mexico. “The Tarahumara call themselves Rarámuri, which means runners on foot; It comes from the roots: rara (foot) and muri (running),” an official Mexican government website explains.

Their legendary endurance feats have captivated the world for centuries. In a rare display, the six runners made headlines and went viral on social media for running in The Speed Project race for the first time. They also brought attention to themselves by donning their unique attire during the long relay.

“Verónica Palma, Ulisa Fuentes, Isadora Rodríguez, Lucía Nava, who gave birth three months ago, Rosa Para and Argelia Orpinel, members of the group ‘Ra Ra Ra, ran in relays with their typical huaraches, according to the Mexico City Sports Institute,” ABC7 news reports.

Traditional Sandals and Grit

What really set these women apart? Their footwear, for one. Instead of high-tech running shoes, they wore traditional huaraches and sandals — simple, handmade footwear crafted from leather and tire rubber. These unassuming shoes have been their companions for generations, allowing them to traverse rocky trails and arid landscapes effortlessly. Their clothing choice added difficulty to the racing challenge as well.

“What makes this achievement even more impressive is that these intrepid runners accomplished this feat by wearing their traditional costumes of the Rarámuri community of Chihuahua and wearing huaraches,” LasEstrellasTV reports. “Despite the climatic adversities, such as the rain, which made their clothes even heavier. Some opted to swap their sandals for sneakers.”

The Speed Project: A Test of Limits

The Speed Project is not your ordinary race. Covering a staggering 540 kilometers (approximately 340 miles), this invitation-only ultramarathon stretches from the bustling streets of Los Angeles to the neon-lit expanse of Las Vegas.

Participants face relentless terrain, sleep deprivation, and the unforgiving desert sun.

Yet, these Rarámuri women embraced the challenge and impressed the world.

A Relay of Resilience

The six-woman relay team navigated the course with precision. Each runner took turns, passing the baton like a sacred torch. They ran through the night to finally reach the iconic Las Vegas welcome sign at the finish line.

This historic achievement marks the first time Rarámuri women have completed The Speed Project, a race with “no rules” and “no spectators.” 

According to the publication El Diario Noroeste, the team won third place in the marathon through Death Valley.

Featured image: Mujeres Tarahumaras photo/Wikimedia.

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