A group of friends of ultrarunner Micah True found his body on Saturday evening in a remote part of southern New Mexico's Gila Wilderness after True left The Wilderness Lodge and Hot Springs on Tuesday for a 12-mile run and failed to return, according to reports.
The Associated Press reports that True's friends found him near a cold stream with his legs still in the water and his water bottle next to him, about a mile southeast off the Gila Cliff Dwellings. ABC News reports that the friends then alerted search crews, who recovered his body shortly thereafter. On Sunday, the crews turned True's body over to the Office of the Medical Investigator.
The cause of death has not yet been revealed.
At the end, it's just a recipe for disaster when you go out there by yourself, said State Police Lt. Robert McDonald. This is one of those things that, unfortunately, has been happening more and more lately.
McDonald said that the Gila Wilderness is very overgrown, and even seasoned vets like True can run into trouble. Furthermore, Jane Bruemmer, Wilderness Lodge's co-owner, told ABC News that people have also been known to get lost. However, she didn't think that True would.
He goes for a run every day, so it's not unusual, Bruemmer said. We just don't think he had much with him, since he was planning on coming home. We're perplexed.
Bruemmer also said that True wasn't known to have any health problems, and suspects he may have become injured.
True, 58, earned high praise among the distance running community, including that of Barry Anderson, a manager at Runner's Den in Phoenix, who said the sport would greatly miss True.
He was both an international running celebrity, and the first person to smile and shake your hand when you crossed the finish line behind him, Anderson wrote in a posting on Runner's Den Facebook page. The fact that so many people from all over the country dropped everything and immediately went to his aid is testimony to the way he lived his life and the way he himself treated his friends.
True has been so revered that he was the subject of Christopher McDougall's best-selling book, Born to Run, which recounted how he lived in the remote Copper Canyons of Mexico among the Tarahumara, a desert-dwelling tribe of the best distance runners in the world. It was during his time in the canyons, specifically in the town of Urique, that True also became the race director of the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, a 50-mile race across the desert, and organized the first Copper Canyon run in 2003.
When he was out on the trail running, it was like someone just rang the school bell and said, 'Recess,' recalled McDougall, It was utter playfulness.
A trail guide for hire, True travelled a lot between Copper Canyon and Boulder, Colo. making stops now and then in New Mexico and Arizona. Bruemmer said he often stayed at her lodge while en route to and from Mexico.
McDougall, who said that the Copper Canyon race may not be able to continue without True, whose nickname was Caballo Blanco in the distance running community, posted a fitting tweet in honor of him late Saturday:
Caballo had the only funeral he would have wanted: his friends spent days running in the wilderness in his honor.