A short, outdoorsy summer reading list

People often come up with summer reading lists. I’m not sure why summer is all of the sudden a season for reading, but that seems to be how it breaks down.

It also got me thinking about a few of my favorite reads. Some of mine are current events-type books, so I’ll spare you that. Besides, my favorite books tend to be more geared toward two things I really enjoy: good writing and a good yarn with an outdoors flavor.

One of my absolute favorites is “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. It’s well-written, expertly reported and thoroughly engrossing. Many of us who are into the outdoors have often dreamed similar dreams as did Chris McCandless – chucking away our normal lives and going on a permanent road trip adventure. His story ended tragically, but the pulse of the book is one which matches my own, and it’s very much a Gen-X tale (my generation!). If you like Krakauer, then “Into Thin Air” (about the 1996 Everest disaster), “Eiger Dreams” (an anthology of his essays) and “Where Men Win Glory” (his excellent and sad biography of ex-NFL star-turned-soldier Pat Tillman) are worth a look.

Speaking of risk-taking authors, you really should check out the works of Sebastian Junger. He’s done some good work, but my favorite of his is his most famous: “The Perfect Storm.” Chances are you’ve seen the movie. The book is much better. Few people can put together the cold, hard facts of science and history into the human tales in which they are intertwined. Skillfully reported, he takes you into the wheelhouses and cockpits of the vessels and aircraft caught up in one of the freakiest storms to ever strike the Eastern Seaboard. See also his anthology “Fire,” which includes a great piece about Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader of Afghanistan who was killed days before 9/11.

The newborn runner in me is also really into the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. The writer takes us to the Copper Canyons of Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains and into the lives of the super-running tribe of Tarahumara Indians. Also in the book is quite a bit about the late Micah True (aka Caballo Blanco), the American runner who learned the Tarahumara’s secrets and founded the Copper Canyon ultramarathon. The popularity of the book is widely seen as the catalyst to the barefoot/minimalist running movement that has taken hold in recent years.

Are you as fascinated by Mount Everest as me? But also horrified by the circus that seems to kill unwitting climbers there every spring? “High Crimes: Mount Everest in an Age of Greed” by Michael Kodas is a very good read that describes just how seedy things have gotten on the world’s highest peak. Another good one in this vein: “Dark Summit” by Nick Heil gives another view of how ambition, greed and amateurism is transforming the narrative of high altitude mountaineering.

That’s a pretty good start. What books are you reading? Let me know and let’s discuss!

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

Micah True, aka ‘Caballo Blanco,’ died from heart disease, autopsy shows

Micah True, aka Caballo Blanco

An autopsy report released Tuesday says renowned ultra runner Micah True died of heart disease while out on a 12-mile trail run a little over a month ago, The Associated Press reports.

According to the report, True, 58, had an enlarged heart and the left ventricle had become thick and dilated.

True’s body was discovered March 31, four days after he’d gone missing while running in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness.

True was a central figure in the best-selling book “Born to Run,” which chronicled the exploits of Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians and their penchant for long-distance running in little more than homemade sandals. True was the founder of the Copper Canyon Ultra race, which takes place annually in the region of Mexico where the Tarahumara live.

To read the full AP report, click this link.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

Foundation started to keep Micah True’s Copper Canyon Ultra race alive

Micah True, aka Caballo Blanco

The Associated Press is reporting that a foundation has been created to keep the Copper Canyon ultramarathon alive. The 50+ mile race was started in 2003 by Micah True, the ultra-runner also known as Caballo Blanco who started the event in Mexico. True, 58, was found dead in New Mexico earlier this month.

He became widely known in running circles as one of the central figures in the best-selling book “Born to Run,” which told the story of the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico and their members’ penchant for healthy living and long-distance running.

You can read the full story here.

Following Micah True’s death, future of Copper Canyon ultra in question

Micah True

A report from The Associated Press indicates that the future of the Copper Canyon ultramarathon race may be in question after the death of its founder and organizer, Micah True.

The body of True, 58, was found Saturday night in a wilderness area in New Mexico. True, also known as Caballo Blanco, was last seen alive last week as he set out for what was seen as a routine trail run on paths he knew fairly well. An autopsy to determine a cause of death is pending.

The report indicates that it’s uncertain who will take over managing the race, which takes place in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. The race is held there as a sort of homage to the Tarahumara Indians, who True befriended and used as his inspiration to take up barefoot and minimalist running. His story, as well as that of the tribe, was captured in the best-selling book “Born to Run.” The book and the publicity that followed it is largely credited with a boom in interest and participation in barefoot and minimalist running.

You can read the full AP report here.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

‘Caballo Blanco’ Micah True found dead in New Mexico

Micah True, aka Caballo Blanco

Sad news in the world of running tonight. Micah True, aka Caballo Blanco, was found dead Saturday evening in the Gila National Forest of New Mexico.

True had been missing for four days, last seen leaving a lodge to go out on a 12-mile run. He was 58.

True was made famous as a central figure in the book “Born to Run,” which examined the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico and their generations-long habit of mimimalist and barefoot running. The book, as well as the insights gained from True (he lived with the tribe for a time), were major influences in the recent boom in barefoot and minimalist running. Since the book was published, devotees to minimalist running have exploded in number while the athletic shoe industry has catered to the trend with a large offering of minimalist shoes.

True was also a major figure in the running community in and around Boulder, Colo., and was a well-known ultra-runner. He was the race director for the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.

Officials say that his body showed no obvious signs of trauma, according to news reports. No cause of death has been reported. It has been reported that he was wearing shorts and a T-shirt while carrying a water bottle when his body was found.

You can read a more full account of this story here.