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Nov. 3, 2008 - Day 3 - C'est incroyable ici!

Group after training run.

Today we drove outside Addis about 40 minutes to do our long run in the countryside on a dirt road loop that past through various villages. The drive there itself was eye-opening (see video). But the run was amazing - running in these surroundings made me feel like I could run forever and also very fortunate to have this experience.

We started this run in this very small village filled with grass huts, dirt roads and farmland, with mountains in the distance. As soon as we parked the people were very curious to see us and when we started running they were cheering us in, while some even started running with us. We had two barefoot boys of about 6 yrs run with us for about the first km without any trouble. About 20 minutes later, an 18 yr old boy, who seemed to come out of nowhere from the countryside, started running with us for about 20 minutes and in that time we were also joined by two young girls in skirts and dress shoes who had no problem running our pace and barely breathing. Now I understand how there are so many talented Ethiopian runners - it's really in their nature and culture.

 

We finished the run in another village 20km down the road and again many people gathered around to watch us stretch and take pictures with us. Everyone was very friendly and curious as to why we had come to their small village. Although, we did see many other Ethiopian runners on the same road so the people are used to seeing runners, perhaps just not foreign ones. I've been trying to pick up some Ethiopian words to communicate, but I've also been surprised to see how many people speak English - even if just a few words, they always say "hello" and "how are you."

Scott, Jean Marc and Lydia after training.

As for the altitude, I didn't feel as dizzy today as yesterday so I guess it's getting better. It's definitely a strange feeling to run so slow and still be working hard, but I think I'll adapt. I think after about 5 days of easy running I'll try a hard session - that seems to be what most of the athletes here have felt works well.

 

 

 

Day 3 -

Shoe shine

Each day we wake up at 6am and leave to train at 6:30am. And each day we have an Ethiopian man named Turiku, our designated pacemaker and "tour guide" of the trails, waiting for us in the lobby. He travels on foot and by bus more than an hour to meet us to train. But he is extremely happy to do this because he's being paid the equivalant of $200 US for the month (on top of the money he makes taking care of Birhane Adere's house). But he will not sit down and eat breakfast with us unless we invite him to the table...but when we do you can see very well that he is hungry and takes advantage of the opportunity for a meal.

Village vegetable market.

From a westerners perspective, things are very cheap here. You can have scrambled eggs and toast for about $1 US and a cafe latte (at a place called Kaldi's - which is basically a mimic of Starbucks) for 70 cents. At the same time, most people could not afford to have a meal or coffee at Kaldi's. The concierge at our guest house told us he makes the equivilant of $350 a month. Another receptionist asked me to help her within an online application for a greencard to the U.S., but when it came time to put in her address - she says she doesn't have one. She has a house, but it's not one that comes with an address.

 

Coffee at Kaldi's

All of this makes me very thankful for the very fortunate life I live . We want to help these people, give them more money, shoes, clothes, but there are so many in need it's difficult to know where to start. We will go to the market and buy some shoes and give them to some young athletes that we've met on our runs. We told them to meet us at the same place in one week to collect shoes - I don't doubt they will show up everyday until then.

 

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