Remembering Micah True (1954 – 2012)

Micah and I met back in the mid 1980s at one of the Colorado ultramarathons. With his no-frills attitude about running and his cool name, he caught my attention right away. Both reminded me of the old T.V. western “The Rifleman” and its sheriff Micah Torrance, who was always behind the scenes working his magic and promoting the public good. He had overcome some obstacles in his life and would champion the cause of those less fortunate.

Later, I would find out that Micah True was born Michael Randall Hickman, but this and other tidbits from his bio never overshadowed my first impression, or the man he ultimately became.

Today, I was thinking about one race we had together, the now defunct “Doc Holiday” 35-miler, when I chased Scott Demaree (a sub-6-hour 50-mile runner) and Micah up and down the trails around Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Neither of them looked much like runners (other than having the lean body type), Micah with his long unkempt hair and Scott sometimes wearing street pants — back then, there were really no good tights or high tech Gore-Tex cover, or at least any that any of us could afford.

Scott and Micah would battle for the lead and I would be a few places back, sucking wind and marveling at how fast those guys in front could fly. Only when we got to the Leadville 100 race could I outpace them. (One year during that run on the Winfield or the backside of Hope Pass, at about 45 miles into the race, I watched Micah clutching his quads, grinning from ear to ear knowing that he had gone out, as he said, “a bit fast.”)

Recently, I read an article that averred “Micah True wasn’t the fastest or best runner,” but believe me, back then, he had speed. And after the races he would disappear back to Nederland, Colorado, a quirky little city that now hosts “Frozen Dead Guy Days,” where he was living  at the time.

Later on in the mid-1990s, Micah was introduced to the Rarámuri, a.k.a. Tarahumara Indians, at the Leadville 100 and paced them (so, yes, he had to have had good speed). Chris McDougall wrote extensively about their relationship in Born to Run, and I believe that Micah helped pace the Rarámuri in more ways than running. He became someone they could trust.

I prefer to think of Micah as just Micah, and not Michael or Caballo Blanco. I recollect him as someone who devoted a big part of himself to helping or bettering the lives of those people he’d become so familiar with, and who’d become so familiar with him. I love what he had to say about that — a sentiment worth remembering him for:

“The Rarámuri are not ‘super-human’ as depicted by some.
They are very real people facing very real problems and issues,
like all of us. We are all much more alike than different.” 


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11 Responses to Remembering Micah True (1954 – 2012)

  1. Randi Young says:

    Thanks Marsh – for a beautifully written tribute to our old friend.
    He will live on in all of us – as the generous and compassionate part of our souls.

    • Marshall says:

      My pleasure and I’m sure you remember Micah well too. Those were good years back then and any more to follow.

  2. jon says:

    Never met him, and as a writer I wonder about the reality of Born To Run, which introduced Micah to the world at large. I’m gutted he’s gone, his spirit was inspiring. Regardless of the flaws of the book, it has cemented his memory in people like me, and I hope I can be true to his spirit. Safe journey, Micah.

    • Marshall says:

      Yes, Born to Run is a great book and wonderful read, more of a novel type feel to it. We’ll all miss Micah, he was more down to earth in many ways than not.

  3. Dean Cox says:

    Thanks Marshall. As a Legend yourself (I have enjoyed your book, ‘Running on Empty’), writing about another Legend, I find your words most profound. Micah has impacted me in many ways, and although he will be sorely missed, his legacy of freedom, togetherness, love and peace, will live on….eternally I hope. Certainly, Maria (whose own spirit is akin to Micah’s) will continue Micah’s work. Thanks once again, for your memories of a truly unique person. Run Free Marshall……and Micah.

    Dean (from Down Under)

  4. Evan Ravitz says:

    The best way people can honor my old friend and fellow Copper Canyon guide is to donate to his charity http://norawas.org which benefits the Raramuri Indians (AKA Tarahumara) as did the race Micah founded. The Raramuri are barely surviving the worst drought in Mexican history. Here’s a photo of Micah I took when we both lived in Guatemala, about 1988: http://evanravitz.com/Atitlan/Micah.jpg

  5. Ross says:

    Did not hear for Micah sadly until his death, ‘Born to Run’ has gotten me off the couch and running again, and eating better as well.

    I am about to purchase “Running on Empty” for even more inspiration.

    Ross

  6. Timothy Ostrander says:

    The farthest I have been able to run is a half marathon. The day after they found Micah I woke up and ran my first full marathon. I did it for Micah. I now run close to at that distance every weekend. It is people like Micah and you that provde the inspiration to reach beyond our perceived bounderies. Thanks!

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