In ultra running first, 6 indigenous women complete brutal 340-mile race wearing traditional dress

Raramuri girls taking a walk in the Sinforosa Canyon, in Guachochi
The Rarámuri women from Mexico completed one of the world's hardest races as a relay team (Image credit: Toni François)

Completing the grueling Speed Project is a massive accomplishment for any ultra runner, but this year's race saw six women pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible – by doing it in sandals.

One week ago, six indigenous women quietly made history by completing the 340-mile race from LA to Las Vegas, making them the first such group to do so. The women are indigenous Rarámuri, who come from the mountains of Chihuahua, and a video posted to Instagram, which you can watch below, reveals they braved the desert conditions wearing their traditional brightly colored dresses and minimal footwear.

The women, who Remezcla names as Verónica Palma, 34; Ulisa Fuentes, 25; Isadora Rodríguez, 46; Lucía Nava, 27; Rosa Para, 29; and Argelia Orpinel, 40, ran the race as a relay. Without stopping, the team of six mothers finished in 52 hours, running approximately 56 miles each.

Though this is the first time a team of Rarámuri has completed the event – widely considered to be one of the world's hardest – the indigenous tribe is known for their athletic prowess. The word "Rarámuri" translates as "light-footed" and their running skills have been the subject of several documentaries, including the 2019 Netflix film “Lorena, Light-Footed Woman.” They have developed a system of running for distances of up to 200 miles over two days in their native land as a means of transportation and communication.

While their competitors were no doubt relying on the cutting-edge science of the world's best trail running shoes and road running shoes to propel them forward on mixed desert terrain, this team opted for their usual footwear of sandals, known as huaraches. Despite the lack of carbon plates, foam midsoles and breathable, protective uppers, they placed third overall.

What is the Speed Project?

The Speed Project is an invitation-only, unsanctioned, unsupported race from Los Angeles to Las Vegas that takes runners through Death Valley National Park, which is frequently the hottest place on earth. The race, which has been described by the BBC as “the Fight Club of the running world,” was devised by runner Nils Arend, who relied on his previous experience organizing raves in Hamburg. It has no website where you can sign up, no rules and no official route. 

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.