the goal is not to win
"To run is resistance." / "Correr es resistencia". - Irma Chávez, Rarámuri runner
“I ran my first ultra when I was 12 - 60 kilometers,” said Irma Chávez, a member of the indigenous group Rarámuri in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico, when I interviewed her. I’ve been thinking of Chávez in the new year because, to me, she represents a way to be powerful in the world that is separate from the individualist, goal-oriented, consumerist, and often macho culture that is associated with New Year’s resolutions. This is the time of year when we receive messages about dieting and fitness that have little or nothing to do with happiness, community, or health.
“Recently I ran all night and all morning. The race was more than eight hours, and I loved it. It is a part of me, of my life, to be able to run these traditional routes,” described Chávez. She has three children who run, and she encourages them to see running as a way to support the community and to respect the natural world and Rarámuri traditions. Like her grandmother, Chávez runs in huaraches and a traditional skirt.
Chávez, who completed a master’s in human development, works for a program in her community that supports pregnant women. “Women have to walk five or six hours to get to a clinic. We need to teach women about different kinds of contraceptives. Twenty-five years ago, many women couldn't even decide [if they wanted to have children]. My mom couldn’t even decide how many children she wanted to have.”
Chávez started to run with her dad when she was five. She loved races because she had the chance to run long distances with girls from her community. “I think that I continue learning every day, and I am very proud,” she explained. “There are ways to support the community where everyone can participate and in our native language, which is in itself an act of resistance.”
I’ve reframed my daily runs as an act of resistance. It doesn’t matter how fast I run, how long, or where I’m going. I am not training for anything. In the pandemic, I think we have seen how fragile and useless the concept of winning can be.
Resist, rebell, support women’s reproductive rights & take care of the environment,