Endurance to Spare

Chapter 4: "Explanations..."

Three days later, the Major Crimes crew gathered at Jim and Blair's loft apartment for poker night. While the others arranged the living area to suit their needs, Henri, Joel, and Jim stood in the kitchen; ostensibly to help Blair with dinner, but in reality having a brief, intense discussion.

"Both Stone and Weaver were reprimanded for their actions. That's a black mark in their files which could hinder any future promotions. They've been required to visit with the department's shrink and to go through sensitivity training," Taggart reported.

H looked sheepish, but squarely met Jim's stoney gaze. "I was afraid you'd go ballistic over what happened and didn't want you to do anything that would jeopardize your career. Which is why I didn't mention it to you. Joel caught wind of what was going on and we dealt with the situation. Both men will be making a formal apology by week's end." He took a deep breath. "They really are sorry. It was a poorly planned prank that backfired on them. They didn't think out all the consequences. That right there is really what's gong to keep them from advancing."

Jim and Blair glanced at one another, a wealth of information exchanged in that brief moment. Tense shoulders relaxed. "We'll see how the apology goes. This could have had some serious repercussions."

Henri nodded. "Won't happen again," he vowed.

Another glance and an impish grin crossed Blair's features, "So. How much did you make?"

Megan set her plate aside and focused her attention on Blair. "Alright, Sandy. I think I've been patient enough. Care to explain how a tribe of Indians and being an anthropologist gave you an advantage in a marathon?"

Blair grinned as he leaned back in his chair. "You mean, I can't just leave it at that?"

"NO!" came the collective response and warm laughter filled the room.

Chuckling, Blair raised a hand in surrender. "Okay, okay. Well, as you know, Naomi and I traveled a lot when I was younger and over the course of my life we've met a lot of interesting people." The others grinned at the understatement.

"Naomi had become friends with an anthropology professor, Jonathon Cassel, and his wife, Estelle. When Uncle Johnny had mentioned he was going to Mexico to study an isolated group of indigenous people, Naomi asked if we could come along."

"How old were you, Blair?" Darryl asked.

"About fourteen. The tribe live in an area called Barranca del Cobre, or Copper Canyon. It's in the southwestern part of the state of Chihuahua. Absolutely fascinating group of people. As a collective, they're considered the greatest long distance endurance runners in the world. They travel great distances, often running nonstop for hours. Their endurance is so great, they even hunt by literally chasing their prey until it drops from exhaustion.

"They have this game they play, a race called 'rarahipa,'" Blair continued, his gesturing with his hands. "It's played by kicking a wooden ball along the paths of the steep canyons. On an average, these foot races cover anywhere from 60 to 80 miles. Everyone runs nonstop until the finish. It's not uncommon for a game to last for days and continue without breaks, even through the dark of night."

"I take it you've played?" Rafe asked, remembering the odd stutter-stride Blair used during part of the marathon race.

"A couple of times. I wasn't very good at it." At the incredulous looks he elaborated. "I was fast. Had to be to get away from bullies. But I couldn't keep the pace for long. We were there for nearly six months and I got better, but I was no where near the ability of even kids younger then me. Of course, they'd been doing this for as long as they could walk and I was a mere beginner.

"After our time with the Taramahara, I took a big interest in increasing my stamina and endurance. Being able to travel by your own power for such long distances really appealed, especially since I'd decided anthropology was the career for me. So I joined the track and cross country teams and practiced whenever I could.

"I had just started my graduate classes when my Anthro Professor assigned us a summer project. I went back to Mexico. It had been four years, but the elders of the tribe remembered me. They were quite pleased with my improvements. After about a month, they allowed me to join in the 'coming of age' ceremony for the young of the tribe. It's a hundred mile race that must be completed between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Youths are allowed to attempt the run as often as they like, and once completed, they become adults in the eyes of the tribe."

Megan tilted her head, "How many times did it take you to complete the run?"

Blair gave a wry grin, "Four. And the third time I was only half an hour away from my destination when the sun set. Guess I don't have to tell you how frustrating that was."

"You ran a hundred miles in a single day?" the awe in Darryl's voice was palatable.

Blair nodded, enjoying the look of shock and pride on the others' faces.

"Hell, no wonder you weren't worried," Henri grinned. "If we ever have to run a perp down, I know who I'm nominating."

"Funny, H. Really funny," Blair snarked back with a grin of his own.

A/N: This story was inspired by the book: Tarahumara Indians, by Jonathon F. Cassel. Naylor Co. 1969.