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Running in Ethiopia

I am currently in the very lucky position to be in Ethiopia as part of the SUB2HR project. Technically it is work, but my boss is convinced that it is a holiday! The objective of the programme is to get an athlete to run under 2 hours in the marathon within the next 5 years. The project is still in its development stage.

Flag of Ethiopia

“While some consider we are generations away from witnessing a sub two hour marathon, the sub2hr project team believe this feat can be achieved within five years by applying a dedicated scientific approach.”

I arrived in Addis Ababa 4 days ago and have already seen a hyena and gone for 2 runs! Ethiopians love mixing up their running terrain and one of their favourite spots to run is at Sululta, about half an hour’s drive outside of Addis. It is a eucalyptus forest and a mere 2700 metres above sea level.

The terrain is a mixture of grass and mud (it is the rainy season at the moment) and you have to constantly zig zag around trees. The forest fills your nose with a strong smell of Eucalyptus. The silence of the forest is only broken when you suddenly cross paths with other athletes. The Ethiopians have such an effortless running style and they are beautiful to watch as they float past you into all directions.

Floating was, however, not a word that I would have applied to myself that morning. The combination of the terrain and altitude nearly killed me off and I could not even get near my regular easy run pace of 6min/km. My running partner was luckily very sympathetic and allowed us to walk home after 30 minutes!

You can find our route here:

We were up at 6am this morning to travel to Bishoftu, South East of Addis Ababa . The traffic and roads in and around Addis can be a challenge and it took us about an hour to reach our destination. The relatively flat dirt road and slightly lower altitude (2000m above sea level) meant that I felt a bit more like myself.

We shared the road with lots of donkeys and people on their way in to town and a welcome rain shower settled the dust and cooled us down. I was joined by group of 3 young kids who found it very amusing that I ran so slowly!!!

You can find my route here: