Last weekend, Yaya Village was thrilled to be involved with the Great Ethiopian Run, Africa’s largest road race. In the 11 years since Haile Gebrselassie won the first GER, the annual 10k through the streets of Addis Ababa has evolved into one of the most well loved and highly attended events each year. After Friday…
Last weekend, Yaya Village was thrilled to be involved with the Great Ethiopian Run, Africa’s largest road race. In the 11 years since Haile Gebrselassie won the first GER, the annual 10k through the streets of Addis Ababa has evolved into one of the most well loved and highly attended events each year.
After Friday and Saturday’s build-up with the press conference and pasta party, the whole city of Addis seemed raring to go by Sunday morning. When the Yaya Village team rolled up to Meskel Square an hour before the 9am start, the plaza was already a buzzing sea of red and green, the colors of this year’s race t-shirts. The energy of the environment was infectious, as runners and walkers of all ages, speeds and sizes hovered near the starting line, socializing, jogging, and dancing to the music blaring over the loudspeakers.
Before the mass participation race took off, a different but no less exciting atmosphere was building right down the road from Meskel. Around 300 elite male and female runners could be seen warming up, performing their drills, and checking in for the highly competitive race that has become somewhat of a breeding ground for future Olympic and World Champions. Yaya Village’s own Meseret Godana was among the elite field and her training partners, Banchi and Derartu, were on hand to keep her company, pin on her bib number, and keep her nerves at bay.
After quite a bit of jostling on the starting line, the elites took off and were soon followed by the mass participation runners. Although 2 very different races were unfolding on the same 6.2 mile course, both proved equally captivating. 36,000 runners participated in the large race, as well as an untold number of sneaky race bandits, making for an energetic and fun competition. And just ahead of them, gifted and well-trained runners battled it out in the Ethiopian sun to reach the finish line first. Meseret put up an awesome fight and finished among the top 20 female finishers, quite an accomplishment for the young 17 year-old who has made significant progress since joining the Yaya Girls team only a few months ago.
Following the race, 2 Yaya team members and 1 current Yaya Villager- Dan, Becky and Julia- ended the weekend in style by attending the post-race party at Haile Gebrselassie’s beautiful home overlooking the city of Addis. Eating from his buffet, wandering around his house, gawking at his massive trophy cabinets, and meeting his slightly less speedy friends (although that’s not saying much) made for a pretty surreal experience.