Great Ethiopian Run 2009

At the start of the Great Ethiopian Run Thirty four thousand runners gathered today in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, for Africa’s biggest road race, the Great Ethiopian Run.

Koreni Jelila and Tilahun Regassa won the women’s and men’s races respectively, both with new course records.

The world record holders for the marathon, Paula Radcliffe and Haile Gebreselassie started the race and gave the awards. (For Ethiopians, that’s like saying that David Beckham was there with Pele).

Thirty four thousand Ethiopians enjoyed their national sport, running, jogging and walking the 10km route through the nation’s capital. Bands played, and fire hoses provided welcome relief from the warm sun.

withhaileSeveral hundred foreign runners came especially for the event, many of them raising thousands of dollars for Ethiopian charities and causes.  There were more than 70 runners from Ireland, raising money for Orbis, and runners from Leipzig (which is twinned with Addis Ababa) and from our own Serpentine Running Club in London, raising money for the prevention and treatment of Mossy Foot.

And G and I managed to get our photo taken with Haile Gebreselassie.

Published by Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and

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5 Comments

  1. Dear Owens,

    You reported about the run why don’t you say a little about the opposition by the youth against the government.
    haven’t you heard any thing about it. We all were chanting slogans against the dictators. like free Birtukan medeksa! Are you scared or wanted to remain silent so that you don’t loose your luxurious life by aid money.

    Owen replies: I didn’t hear any slogans. Perhaps it was different in different parts of the field? I’m not an elite runner, but where I was running there was not a lot of talking or chanting – people were quite focused on running hard.

    PS My lifestyle is not funded by aid. Nice try with the personal attack – but I don’t think that it helps you make your point.

  2. I was amazed by those pack of runners chanting their opposition towards the government. They had no fear specially in front of ethiopia hotel where the ministry of defense situated. They were chanting “..this is the place where there is no courageous man….”

  3. Dear Owens …
    I’ve started the run late and it took me about 3 km to get free space to run freely
    and a bit larger than an hour to clear the final line

    IF YOU REALLY NEED TO BE IN THE FIRST HUNDRED YOU SHOULD TRAIN A LOT AND START RUN FIRST(SHOULD ARRIVE AT LEAST AN HOUR BEFORE THE RUN STARTS)

    it was fascinating moment and i’ve heard people kids to elders joking like seeking extra lungs to borrow from spectators etc
    it is pretty exciting to see tourists and other foreigners to run freely and joyfully and they seem completely Ethiopian citizens
    For the moment it seemed to me that i’m surrounded by few hundred runners but when i see the photos later i was a star in the middle of stars

    Good wish to the GER(Great Ethiopian Run) founder Dr. Haile G/Silasie

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