Scramble for Ethiopia

Scramble for Ethiopia

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Peterson, Erik

The pitter-patter of feet near dawn surprised me. Sure, I knew Ethiopia was home to fast runners; I just didn't expect anyone else to be out running on the side streets of the capital city in the dark. But as it turned light, I began padding along with dozens of other runners down paved roads and side trails, past donkeys and goats feeding in the median. Soon it seemed half the city was out doing stretches on the sidewalk or running along the roads.   

I looked out of place, to say the least. I was likely the only white guy running the streets of Addis Ababa at 6am this morning. My shorts and shiny running shoes stood in stark contrast to the warm-up suits and penny loafers so many Ethiopians ran in. But no matter—we had running in common. And the more “Salaam's” I offered, the more thumbs up, smiles, and return greetings I got. 

I soon came to the equivalent of Bozeman's “M” trail, a steep, winding path switch-backing up a long hill. My fellow runners were doing repeats and I joined them. The city sits at over 7,500 feet of elevation, so it wasn't long before I was buckled over, heaving as my fellow runners cruised by. I was worked. Then a tall, lithe Ethiopian woman in warm-ups came running up to me, a smile spread across her face. "Be strong," she said in accented English, then continued uphill, unfazed. It made me smile. 

The great thing about running is that it has the ability to span continents, bridge cultures, and often bring great humility. It was soon obvious to me why Ethiopians have dominated the sport of running for so long—it's part of their culture. It’s a way of life in this corner of the world that has few material things, but is rich in so many other ways.

That’s why a group of Bozemanites are using the sport of running to build bridges of their own. The Scramble for Ethiopia, now in its third year, hopes to bring awareness to our fellow runners; clean water can be hard to find in small villages like Korah, a destitute part of Ethiopia, where villagers have to trek several miles each day to fill a jug for cooking and drinking. Generally this chore falls upon the young boys and girls of the village, meaning they don't have time to go to school and improve their lives.

The Scramble for Ethiopia aims to raise enough money to build a well in Korah, bringing clean drinking water to a place that so desperately needs it. Join the Scramble for Ethiopia on August 18, 2012. The race consists of a team or solo 15k, 5k, and Kid’s Run (12 and under). The start/finish area is at the Corner of Baxter and Love. There will be music, awards, refreshments, and educational opportunities concerning clean water. Cost is $55 for relay teams and $20 for individuals in both the 15k and 5k. Cash prizes will be awarded for the top finishers.


Email [email protected] with questions, and register at the race website,

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