Monday, October 29, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Once again this year, a hearty congratulations to Berhane Adere who won Chicago in 2:33:49, albeit right at the intersection of Marathon Ln. and Champion Dr.
At the crack of dawn, walking down to the starting corral in Grant Park, it was a breath of fresh air walking into a forest of runners who were stretching and getting ready for the race to start. Walking past the starting line, I imagined this is where one of our country heroes Adere will be starting off along with the other elite athletes. Isn't it great that only and only in running one is able to compete with the who's who of world class athletes!
Chicago '07 certainly was a marathon to remember from its record heat wave to the unprecedented finish as Adere reached deep into her track & field days to win Chicago back to back. For elite athletes and others alike, Chicago '07 perhaps will go down in history book as a disappointment. Couple days before the race, a Chicagoist article "Chicago Marathon 2007: This One's Gonna Hurt" wrote:
Don’t be a hero. These aren’t the conditions for a personal best; finishing in one piece is good enough.
For those who heeded this advise, it served well, and for others Chicago '07 was chalked as one of the most challenging marathon. To put it in perspective, instead of spectators congratulating finishers for finishing a marathon, the scene last Sunday was such that spectators were congratulating finishers for surviving the record heat wave.
However, beneath Chicago's heat wave and disappointing finishing time, there was a common thread that united hundreds of runners: the love of running under the name of charity, the unity to bring opportunity and miracles to others less fortunate. It's this combination that made this year's Chicago marathon an extraordinary marathon for many as hundreds were running for a great cause, mine being a A Running Start Foundation which is making a tangible impact to Ethiopia's future runners.
A Running Start Foundation is an organization that is dedicated to using the power of sport to improve the lives of underprivileged youngsters in Ethiopia and East Africa. One example is a project that is taking place in Ethiopia with the youth sports club in Bekoji that has produced world renowned athletes such as Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba. Being part of this great cause through running was simply a priceless experience. This year's Chicago Marathon represented over 80 charities raising nearly $10M. Many thanks to those who supported these causes and a challenge for others to get involved.
These great charity programs involve common runners as well as elite athletes. In this spirit of charity, I had the pleasure of having a dinner with one of the elite athletes from neighboring Kenya who also combines the passion of running with a greater cause. Meeting Christopher Cheboiboch who finished 6th last weekend was an experience. Christopher is an athlete who displays a compassionate and genuine attitude towards others not only through his words but also through his actions. Although Sunday's running condition left more to be desired, it gave Christopher and myself an opportunity to talk about running and how it can make an impact on society at large. Christopher, like many others, is involved in developing a primary school named Salba Academy in his home country Kenya. Through his generosity, Christopher has used his earnings from New York City Marathon and Boston Marathon winnings to afford kids in his community an opportunity to learn and grow. Kudos to Christopher and wish him best in his endeavors.
For the rest of us, let's continue to make a difference. Yechalale! ... Translation from Amharic: "It’s possible". Together we can make a difference!
Long live ROOCHA!
Roocha Note: Thank you Roocha WeaDage for sharing your firsthand experience in Chicago and congratulations on surviving the heat and finishing the marathon.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Nice article in today's Washington Post titled "Gray Wall Dims Hopes of 'Green' Games"
Two weeks ago, two Ethiopian middle-distance running champions announced they would forgo some events because of the "disgusting weather and air pollution." New Zealand and American athletes say they will wear face masks if necessary. Even Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, warned that some endurance sports might be postponed if the pollution gets too bad.
Also this article titled "A 'disgusting' Beijing Repels Olympic Athletes" quotes Kenenisa as saying that Beijing has “mixture of disgusting weather and air pollution" and that he will not try to double. Meseret Defar says that she will have to change her exercise regime and routines radically and will not attempt to double.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
As if the men's photo finish was not dramatic enough for one marathon, Berhane Adere produced the most amazing sprint over the last half-mile to come from some 80 meters behind to win the Chicago Marathon right at the finish line. Berhane won last year's race in what I thought was as gutsy performance as one can ever expect to see, but she has outdone herself this year in what is sure to become a classic come-from-behind marathon victory story.
Ivuti and Adere clinch Chicago Marathon
victories with dramatic sprints
Sunday 7 October 2007
Chicago, USA - The 30th running of the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon turned into a sprint as both the men's and women's winners won in dramatic, but very different ways... Defending women's champion Berhane Adere of Ethiopia made up 30 seconds in the last two kilometres, most of it down the 385 yard finishing straight to blow past a shocked Adriana Pirtea of Romania in the final 50 metres to win by three seconds in 2:33:49... Pirtea seemed to be on her way to a comfortable victory in her debut marathon, waving to the crowd and oblivious to the fact that Adere was sprinting at top speed down the homestretch. On her toes and in full flight, Adere, flashed past the celebrating Pirtea, passing several men in the process and missing the finish tape that had been stretched out for Pirtea. By the time the Romanian, who had attended the University of Texas, El Paso in the US, realized that Adere was anywhere near her, it was too late... more
Tight finishes highlight 2007 marathon, By Shannon Ryan,Tribune staff reporter
October 7, 2007, 11:09 AM CDT
...Ethiopian Berhane Adere recorded one of the greatest race comebacks, repeating as women's champion in 2:33:49. Adere fell behind by about 25 seconds late in the race but managed to sprint to the finish and overtake unsuspecting Romanian Adriana Pirtea. Pirtea learned a quick lesson in her marathon debut -- do not relax until it's over. She waved to the crowd in celebration of what she thought was a clear-cut victory after pulling ahead of Adere around the 22d mile. In a wise move, Adere ran to the outside of the course out of Pirtea's vision. Pirtea appeared unaware that she was being passed and was shocked to learn the news after finishing in 2:33:52... more
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I was thrilled to see Haile, but I went home thinking about the other Ethiopian Athletes that were in the same race. I had often read race reports about Leteyesus Berhe, Kasahun Kabiso and Retta Feyissa. However, I was surprised to see that there are a growing number of over 20 Ethiopian athletes in the New York area.
Some are veteran athletes that are in their 30’s while others are youngsters that have made it to the US., through some form of Visa sponsorship and are attached to running clubs in the New York City area. As I made my way to the finish line to watch the end of the race I ran into a group of Ethiopians and Americans who talked about one of the local Ethiopian runners. They spoke passionately about Worku Beyi, a shy 20 year old guy who now runs for the Westchester running club.
As we waited for Haile to make his way down from the hotel for the award ceremony, we got to meet and talk to Worku. Worku had just finished 8th in the half marathon behind Haile in a personal best of 1:03.39. He talked about his race and the fact that he was not too happy with his shoes that day. He also joked about how Haile was impressed with his run. After the race Haile had quipped, “I am calling the federation to tell (report) to them the talent that is hiding here”.
Most of the Ethiopian runners that are in the New York area have gravitated to the Big Apple because of the New York Road Runners system that puts on multiple races a year. This allows the runners to earn a living while working small jobs. According to a recent New York Times article some of them work in nursing homes. Worku and Leteyesus work as pacers which involves taking some local runners on paced long runs in Central Park. Worku primarily survives on his race winnings which he uses to support himself and his family.
I was immediately scared to death when I heard how these runners are left to fend for themselves. Many of them live in the Bronx and room together in small apartments and their obligations likely exceed their means. What happens when they are injured? How can $500 and $1,000 dollar race checks cover rent, room and board? How do they communicate?
The most heartbreaking thing is that the thousands of Ethiopians that live in the NYC area are probably not aware off the plight of these athletes. There is no support system. From what I could tell the Ethiopian runners are supported by some coaches in the NYC area and some Americans who they have befriended. I felt a sense of shame that we (Ethiopians) are not helping each other because we are not aware of there plight. I felt so guilty that I made it a point to make sure I knew how to contact at least one of the runners … and how to provide whatever assistance I can afford.
As we headed to the Subway with Worku and his young Wife, we realized that we only had a $20 bill to purchase our subway ticket. Worku refused to let us use our credit card to purchase a subway card. He quickly scanned us through the turnstile and he paid for our trip.
I was fighting tears when I thought about this young man's generosity to random Ethiopians. If they can be generous to their countryman why shouldn’t we?
I vowed to myself that I will help Worku in anyway I can. I felt a need to return his generous favor 100 fold. I wanted to help make his dreams come true.
I urge the writers of this blog and others that may be reading this to help our local Ethiopian runners. Lets create a network to help them. It may be something as simple as providing them a place to stay as they race in your town. It may be paying their rent when they are injured. Whatever it is we should help these guys realize there dreams.
Here is a short list of Ethiopian runners in the east coast of the United States. I am sure there are more but this is what I am aware of:
* Worku Beyi
* Demesse Tefera
* Retta Feyissa
* Abiyot Endale
* Deressa Deniboba
* Genna Tufa
* Gurmessa Megerssa
* Alemtsehay Misganaw
* Leteyesus Berhe
* Atalelech Ketema
* Aziza Aliyu
* Tereza Yohannes
* Hareg Sidelil
* Maru Daba
* Bruk Debrwork
* Mohammed Awol
* Sentayehu Haile
* Tadele Worku
* Brehanu Adane
* Alena Reta
* Belyanesh Zemedkun (DC)
* Meskerem Legesse
Since I initially wrote this article Abiyot Endale and Worku called me before a race they ran in DC. I gave them a ride to and from their friends house and they finished 1st and 3rd respectively despite niggling injuries. Belaynesh and Atalelech Ketema finished 2nd and 3rd. We gave all the runners a ride back from the race. It was a pleasure to listen to them call the other runners who were running in VA, PA etc., to exchange news on how everyone did that day. It was a pleasure to do my part in helping my countrymen and women be as successful as they can be.
Monday, October 01, 2007
So, what does a hole-in-one have to do with Roocha? Well, as I watched Haile Gebrselassie cross the finish line in Berlin yesterday, I had a very similar experience of someone who had just hit a hole-in-one but with no witness! On Friday evening, I had sent out an e-mail to a private google group reminding family members to watch Haile run the Berlin Marathon on WCSN’s live webcast on Sunday. I then wrote down my prediction for Haile’s finishing time.
Imagine my shock watching the finish line clock tick over the last 20 to 30 meters of the race as Haile rushed towards the tape. I can at least try to make my case with e-mails I pulled from the “Sent” folder…
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2007 09:09:54
Subject: [Xxxxxxxxxx] Re: Watch Berlin Marathon on Sunday
Am I good or am I good? Haile breaks the record in 2:04:26!!!
Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2007 21:50:02
Subject: [Xxxxxxxxxx] Watch Berlin Marathon on Sunday
Haile Gebrselassie will be attempting to break the marathon world record in a highly anticipated race in Berlin and Gete Wami will also be defending her title. You can watch it LIVE at wcsn.com for US$4.95.
My prediction: Haile gets the record in a time of 2:04:26
Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.
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