Ethiopian Athletes Raise Funds to Fight Virus in Virtual Run (AP)

Tirunesh Dibaba and and Kenenisa Bekele. (Getty Images)

AP

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Tirunesh Dibaba ran in an empty stadium and Kenenisa Bekele inside his own home as the former Olympic champions raised funds Saturday for Ethiopia’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

The Ethiopian athletes were joined by amateur runners from across the world. Participants ran on treadmills or on the spot inside their homes, or around their gardens.

The event was streamed live online and runners connected on Zoom, Facebook Live and YouTube in a virtual fundraiser.

Dibaba, who’s won three gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, ran at an empty National Stadium in Addis Ababa with sisters Genzebe and Ejegayehu, also top athletes. Bekele, also a three-time Olympic champion, ran inside his home with members of his family seen in the background on his video stream.

Organizers said money raised will be donated to two Ethiopia-based non-profit organizations that are helping the country’s efforts against the virus.

Grand African Run, an annual fun run usually held in the United States, and the Ethiopian Athletics Federation combined to organize the event. It attracted runners from across the globe, mostly Ethiopians. There was no specified distance or duration for the participants to run.

Derartu Tulu, the 1992 and 2000 Olympic champion in the 10,000 meters and the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold, also took part from her garden.

“I long for the day this pandemic is over and I run with you all,” she said. “I hope that won’t be too far away.”


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