In Ethiopia, Historic Run Supports Girls

This week a historic athletic event is taking place in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia to raise funds for the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF). The 100-Mile Relay, which is set to start at the peaks of the Bale Mountains on January 10th, 2019 is the first-of-its-kind in the region. The running event is scheduled to conclude in the famous town of Bekoji that's home to some of the biggest names in Ethiopian athletics including Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba. (Photo: GIRLS GOTTA RUN/JASON SUAREZ)

Runners World

First-of-Its-Kind, 100-Mile Relay Seeks to Empower Ethiopian Girls Through Running

On Thursday morning, a history-making run will begin in the Oromia region of Ethiopia: Thirty women will work together to cover 100 miles in an ultra relay, the first of its kind in the area.

Half of the runners will be young girls from Bekoji, the town where the team will finish, and the other half will be women from several different corners of the world. Most won’t know each other until they gather at the starting line, but together, they’ll be working for a greater purpose: to empower young women through running.

The 100-mile ultra relay is organized by the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF), an Ethiopia-based nonprofit dedicated to changing the lives of women since its inception in 2007. Through education, running, life skills, savings, and entrepreneurship, the foundation hopes to combat the many challenges—child marriage and access to education, in particular—facing young women.

The nonprofit’s executive director Kayla Nolan collaborated with the local community to create a new opportunity for these women to run a distance only achievable with a team.

“To be able to feel like they are running with and racing with the international athletes equally, across this new distance and achieving something together—I think that’s such a powerful experience, to have their running validated, shared, and understood,” Nolan told Runner’s World over the phone from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Starting in the peaks of the Bale Mountains on January 10, the team will travel through the Oromia region, finishing in the running mecca of Bekoji, the same town that produced distance running greats like Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba.

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Related:
Why Girls Gotta Run: Interview with Patricia Ortman

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