The Indigenous Runner Who Conquers Ultramarathons Wearing Her Sandals

The Indigenous Runner Who Conquers Ultramarathons Wearing Her Sandals

By: Patricia Cordero -

The story of indigenous runner Lorena Ramírez has been told in the Netflix documentary 'Lorena, Light-Footed Woman,' directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo.

She doesn't need fancy and expensive running shoes to conquer the most difficult trails. She doesn't need the latest technology in sports clothing either as some other runners do. She just needs her old sandals and the most powerful will I've ever seen. Meet Lorena Ramírez, an indigenous runner who has won some of the hardest races in Mexico, like the Guachochi Ultramarathon in 2017, where she ran 100 kilometers wearing her sandals and traditional dress. 

Lorena, who is 25 years old, belongs to the Tarahumara community in the northern state of Chihuahua, Mexico, and she definitely honors the meaning of her community's people, the rarámuris, as this means "those with the light feet." When you see her running, even after she has ran several miles, she looks as though she were floating and not tired at all. 

Her moving story was filmed by Juan Carlos Rulfo and is now available as a documentary on Netflix, under the title Lorena, la de los pies ligeros ("Lorena, light-footed woman"). She also appeared on the cover of Vogue Mexico in October, to celebrate the magazine's 20th anniversary. 

Her father, Santiago Ramírez, is also a runner. He has won the Guachochi Ultramarathon three times and he shared this passion with Lorena, after they ran together a 10k race, but becoming a runner was not in her plans. For the rarámuri people, running or walking long distances is part of their daily life, as there is no public transportation to move from one town to the other, and they often have to go from town to town on foot. But Lorena found one of her passions in life when she started to run. She's become a star in Guachochi, with people asking her to have a photo at the end of the race, but she keeps living her pastoral life in a small town. 

lorena ramirez netflix documentary

In 2018, Lorena traveled to Spain to run the Tenerife Bluetrail and came in third place after running 102 kilometers, also running with her sandals, with which she has run more than 500 kilometers in total, including Mexicos City's Marathon in the same year.

Unlike her brothers, Lorena doesn't speak Spanish because she didn't have the opportunity to attend school and learn the language. She speaks Tarahumara in a soft voice, with words that sound so sweet and musical that you just want to listen to her telling her story. 

Lorena runs through the mountains and rivers, wears her traditional skirt and blouse with pride, and teaches us to never give up. "As long as my body lets me, I'll keep on running," she says, and I am sure that her feet will take her as far as she wants. 

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