The hazards of desert environments are numerous and highly lethal.
Well-trained, highly experienced people die every year from dehydration. An average adult male in the noon day sun most likely will be dead within a few hours depending on the time of year.
Many people involved with extreme sports regularly subject themselves to these life-threatening harsh conditions as sport. To such people it is inconceivable to live life without somehow putting themselves at risk. This, to a large degree, is what gives their life meaning.
Micah True passed away doing something that he loved. Who can say this is not a dignified way to pass on?
It’s all so very easy to point out the mis-steps of other people, sitting comfortably and safely behind one’s computer. I don’t wish to in any way pass judgement or use hindsight to point out how “this man should have done this or that.” By reviewing this story I simply aim to illustrate the serious dangers of desert survival.
Practicing free-climbing, marathons, or any other extreme sport in the wild is the dead opposite of practicing the principles of wilderness survival techniques. People who engage in such activities know that they are putting their lives at risk.
One practices and rehearses wilderness survival techniques in non-survival scenarios. This common sense approach has two main benefits.
Studies confirm that people learn new skills at a higher rate when they’re not under stress. The stress of a real survival situation is a terrible time to learn how to procure water or start a fire.
While practicing survival techniques can be fun, for a limited few, you should never be putting your life at risk.
Survival experts and guides die every year as well. I wrote a review on a story a few months back on a man, who after watching “Survivorman”, got inspired to walk out into the Canadian Bush in the dead of winter, alone, to try to survive off the land. His frozen body was found a few days later.
In the case of True, his body was discovered in the difficult and rocky terrain of the Gila National Forest according to the New Mexico State Police. He had aimed to go out on a 12 mile run in the desert.
True’s body was found without any external obvious forms of injuries which leads this author to believe that he died of dehydration. It is even more surprising that his dead body was found in a stream with his water bottle beside him.
The local medical examiner’s office went along with the original search crews to retrieve True’s body.
Susan Bryan of the Associated Press Writes,
“Up mountainsides, through deserts and the wildest of rugged terrain, there was little that could break the serenity or solitude of Micah True as he ran. Only, perhaps, the pounding beat of his heart or the rhythm of his feet as they hit the trail, mile after mile after mile.
For True, running — the pure act of traveling relentlessly long distances — was a passion that needed no justification. To those who knew him well, it also brought forth an intense playfulness in the 58-year-old ultra-marathon runner.
“When he was out on the trail running, it was like someone just rang the school bell and said, ‘Recess.’ It was utter playfulness,” recalled Chris McDougall, a friend of True’s and author of the nonfiction best-seller “Born to Run.”
True was the acting race director for the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, a well-known 50-mile race that of runners from northern New Mexico. extreme race that took place in Urique, Mexico. This year’s race had a record turnout with hundreds of local Tarahumara Indian runners, or Raramuri Indian runners. These two tribes are well-known for their extreme running. The winners receive corn vouchers and prize money aimed at helping the two tribes continue to exist.
He was also the subject of the book, “Born to Run”.