By Gerald Hausman
Bokeelia, FL, USA
I have a friend, a distance runner, called Cloud Runner. He runs at high altitude - 12 to 14 thousand feet - and this has given him a mind that thrives on thin air and a body that glides like silk when he runs.
In a recent interview, Cloud Runner remarked, "I am now 67 years old. So I have been running most days for 55 years. It is a lifestyle, not an addiction. If I don't feel like it, I don't run . . . I don't keep track of how many days in a row, or how far I go in a year. Still, I have surely run 75,000 miles, and maybe 100,000."
Not bad mileage for a man with psoriatic arthritis. Now he has either beaten it or put up with it one cloud peak at a time. He mentioned that, "A low dosage of methotrexate helped a lot, but it still hurt - yet I could run.
“I decided that if I cut the dosage by a very small amount, too small for my body to notice, maybe I wouldn't go through withdrawal. This was necessary, I thought, because the drug, while helpful to me was also dangerous: it will slowly eat away the liver."
Today, he runs free of drugs, but not necessarily free of pain. But he says, "Diet has helped a great deal. I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, and organic meat in small amounts, using a vinegar marinade to help ‘pre-digest’ the meat."
Cloud Runner and Caballo
Batopillas, March 2006
When asked about his daily regimen, he replied, "I have certainly not run more than fifty miles in a day." His answers are often like that. "I like to run," he says, "but I don't want to lose any sleep over it."
When I wanted to know if he hallucinated on any of his long distance mountain runs, he replied, "The brain is hypoxic - a deficiency of oxygen reaching body tissues at high altitudes. Different people are physically able to handle it differently. I wouldn't be surprised if some people hallucinate as a result. I don't. I also have no idea why that white mountain goat was jogging alongside me for several miles on Mt. Harvard."
I'd heard that Cloud Runner had been friends with Micah True, better known as Caballo Blanco, the fabled distance runner in the bestseller Born to Run. Micah recently died at the age of 59 while running in the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico.
True was a one-of-a-kind athlete. He modeled himself after the Tarahumara, arguably the greatest long distance runners in the world. Like them, True liked to run in woven sandals; running one hundred miles was not strange to him. When he was found dead, staring up at the sky in a remote canyon his legend was intact. He died as he had lived.
Cloud Runner knew him, had run with him. Once on a camping trip in Los Alisos, Mexico, he heard True say, "One day I will go on a long run and not come back."
Cloud Runner, Mt. Sherman, Colorado
(credit: Brendan Maas)
Cloud Runner added, "He was emphatic about it, prophetic, and I knew at the time it would be so. He may have known, or known instinctively, the way a runner knows his body, that he had heart disease."
I asked Cloud Runner if he looked up to Caballo Blanco more than any other back country runner and he said, "I most admire Tewanima, the legendary Hopi runner of the early 1900s. It was said that he would run from his village to Winslow, Arizona, a distance of 80 miles, just to watch the trains go by. It was said children would follow him out of town. Initially, his foot strikes were deep in the sand and a long stride apart. But as the village faded in the distance behind, the footprints became lighter and further apart until they disappeared altogether. One day, I will run in his footsteps."