An ultramarathon is defined as any race longer than 26.2 miles. But, of course, with anything that extreme, such a measurement can only be understood as the start of the story. 

 Ultrarunning has exploded in popularity over the past decade, in large part because of the phenomenon of the book Born to Run, which chronicles the tale of the Tarahumara, an indigenous community in Mexico who refer to themselves as the Rarámuri, famed for their legendary running ability, and their preference for running barefoot. In the aftermath of the book, international runners were inspired to descend upon Urique, a town in the basin of the Chihuahua’s rugged Sierra Tarahumara canyons, which subsequently became the site of a “bucket list” race for ultramarathoners. Soon, people all over the world were wearing barefoot-style shoes. Millions and millions of dollars were made – everyone profiting, it seems, except the Tarahumara.

In The Infinite Race, director Bernardo Ruiz explores what’s happened to the tribe that inspired so much of the ultra-racing craze. While the world has been running in their symbolic footsteps, the Tarahumara has continued to face existential threats from organized crime and drug cartels, forcing them from their homes and breaking apart their communities. Victims have been kidnapped and murdered, and local farms have been taken over to plant marijuana or poppy.

In 2015 in Urique, the Ultra Marathon Caballo Blanco, the race named after Micah “Caballo Blanco” True, an eccentric American runner portrayed in Born to Run, was marred by violence related to organized crime. With many Americans in attendance, a gun-battle broke out. People were killed – and the race organizers were faced with a choice: keep running or shut the race down.

What ensued was a confusing, controversial series of events that lay bare how outsiders, many well-intentioned, impact a community in unexpected ways and the starkly different ways people can view events based on the economic, political, and cultural realities they inhabit.

About Bernardo Ruiz

Bernardo Ruiz is a two-time Emmy® Award-nominated documentary filmmaker and a member

of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. He has directed and produced five feature documentaries and a host of nonfiction programming for a variety of outlets including PBS, HBO, ESPN and Facebook Watch. His feature credits as director include: Latino Vote: Dispatches From The Battleground (PBS's Voces, 2020), The Infinite Race (ESPN’s 30 for 30, 2020), Harvest Season (Independent Lens, 2019), Kingdom of Shadows (Participant Media, 2015) and Reportero (POV, 2013). In 2019, Ruiz directed and produced a 5-episode mini series, USA v. Chapo: The Drug War Goes on Trial, about the extradition and trial of narco kingpin Joaqúin “Chapo” Guzmán for Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions. In the fall of 2015, Ruiz was a filmmaker in residence at the Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) at the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Previously he created and Executive Produced the two part bilingual PBS series, “The Graduates/Los Graduados” (Independent Lens, 2013). Edutopia called it “a winner that should be seen by as many students, teachers and parents as possible.”