Sunday, May 20, 2007

On the Home Front

The Great Bahir Dar Run 10K, staged by the Great Ethiopian Run, took place in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia today. It took a sprint finish to decide the men’s race, won by Yetwal Kandie in 29:14.07, while a barefoot Genet Talew won the women’s division by a huge margin in a time of 34:13.78. You can read more on this race here

It was great to see Ethiopian athletes do well in competitions in Europe and America over the weekend. But nothing makes me happier than reading about my beloved sport of roocha taking a foot hold (no pun intended) back home with grass root level participation races across the country, such as the Great Bahir Dar Run. And this is entirely due to the work done by the
Great Ethiopian Run organization, which was founded in 2001, and whose Chairman of the Board is none other than the great Haile Gebrselassie.

The GER organization lists as
its aim “the betterment of life in Ethiopia by (i) giving the public opportunity to participate in the country’s national sport (ii) serving as a platform for publicising important health messages, in particular AIDS prevention messages and (iii) contributing to much-needed imaging building for the country.”

These goals are as noble as any listed by any organization working on behalf of Ethiopia and its people. And considering the success of the different races GER has hosted since 2001, and the international renown some of these races have achieved, it is clear that GER is meeting and passing its goals by leaps and bounds.

Although the annual Great Ethiopian Run 10K held in Addis Ababa in November is the
most popular race hosted by GER, the organization stages several other races throughout the year. Last month, GER hosted Confidence Women’s First 5K, which is a race only for women, with as many as 8000 participants. It is truly amazing that the organizers are able to get such a large turnout of women for a mass participation road race in a country where women traditionally are not given the lime light and face difficult issues such as violence without much support. The main message of the 5K to “Stop Violence Against Women” is a very important message that needs to be understood by all parts of our society.

This particular message, and the 5K race, could not have happened at a more appropriate time considering the
horrific attack carried out on a 21 year old woman Kamilat Mehdi. As senseless and unimaginable as this attack on Kamilat was, it was also wonderful that GER was able to provide support to Kamilat to help pay for transportation and medical expenses for treatment abroad. In addition to support given to Kamilat Mehdi, proceeds from the Women’s First 5K were used to provide scholarship funds for three women.

Considering that GER has successfully hosted many mass participation races across Ethiopia, and in the process have attracted
international athletes as well as international television media, and considering GER has used this forum to disseminate important health and social messages, a GREAT KUDOS is in order for everyone associated with the Great Ethiopian Run organization. Well done, indeed!

Stay tuned for GER’s next race: Great Adama Run on June 17, 2007 in Nazareth, Ethiopia.

No comments: