A group of 15 runners, including 10 from the Abbotsford area, travelled to Ethiopia this week to hit the local roads, learn about the culture and raise money for desperately needed water projects.
The trip originates with the annual Run for Water, and was prompted by inquiries from participants wondering about seeing first hand the water projects built with money raised by the event.
Several months, and a lot of planning later, 14 men and women, along with Run for Water executive director Peg Peters, arrived in the country to begin 10 days of running and learning. The group will run about 10 kilometres each day see first-hand many of the projects built by the organization, and will meet people in the communities transformed by fresh and accessible water. The trip is about more than tourism, however. All the runners have not only paid their own way over, but have committed to raising $100,000 for future projects. Already four-fifths of that total has been raised.
Included in the itinerary is participation in the Great Ethiopian Run, a massive 10-kilometre event through the streets of Addis Ababa with tens of thousands of other singing and dancing runners.
Participants will be welcomed into one village at a feast where an ox will be slaughtered in the runners’ honour, and Peters, who has travelled to Ethiopia eight times now, expects the trip to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those involved.
He said there was an “overwhelming response” when the idea for the journey was first floated.
“The idea of getting on our feet and running in people’s shoes really connected … You get to know them, you get to know their terrain.”
Running is a way of life in Ethiopia, and Peters said jogging around the country will let runners both experience the majestic vistas of the green and mountainous terrain, and foster a closer connection with the locals.
“We’re using running as the vehicle to encounter people on the ground,” Peters said.
The run won’t be without its challenges, however. Although the participants are runners, the elevation of Ethiopia could pose difficulties. But Peters says that will be part of the learning experience.
“The places we’re going, tourists don’t go … It’s really a cool experience. I think they’re going to be blown away by the visuals.”
Money raised by the runners will go towards digging a well to supply clean water, along with building a new school for the 2,700 people who live in Kudu, Ethiopia. To donate, visit https://chimp.net/groups/ethiopia-november-2015.
Watch abbynews.com for photos and dispatches from runners in Ethiopia.