Tag Archives: Ethiopian Runners

Interview With Robert Cheruiyot at Gebreselassie Running Clinic

Other elite runners at Haile Gebrselassie running clinics were Paul Tergat and Robert “Mwafrika” Cheruiyot. While Paul and Haile monopolised attention, Robert remained in the background. I even didn’t know he was around until someone called him out.

Robert has been one of my favourite athletes, he has won 4 boston marathon and one Chicago marathon and he was my bet to win the gold at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Robert cheruiyot "mwafrika"

Why he dropped out of Beijing games

With the media focused on Haile and Paul I had him to myself. My first question was what happened at Beijing. He told me it was a case of overtraining. He really wanted to win the gold at Beijing and so he had pushed himself hard only to suffer a thigh injury close to the games that refused to heal on time.

About that famous fall at 2006 chicago marathon.

It was all bad luck! This was refreshing in an age when people are suing for even minor things.

Attacking the Haile Gebrselassie marathon record

He wants to break Haile Gebreselassie marathon record, hopefully at the world championship in August at Berlin, Germany.

If he breaks it in Berlin it will interesting to see what Samuel Wanjiru and Martin Lel will do at London marathon in September because that is the date they have set to crack Gebrselassie record and bring it back to Kenya.

As we were taking the above photo he pointed to the green grounds inside Nyayo National Stadium and noted that when he started running that ground was all dust.

8 years after he started running he has won 4 boston marathons and made lots of cash from running: Not bad for a man who started out as a barber.

My Day At Haile Gebrselassie Coaching Clinic

Haile Gebrsellasie is the best long distance runner in the world, last week he visited Kenya and I had an opportunity to train, run and chat with the King.

Gebrselassie was visiting Kenya as part of a training programme organised by his sponsor’s, security firm  G4S.

The coaching clinic had been hyped by the media and I was not going to let this opportunity slip. On the eve of the event, a sports reader of a leading TV station had reminded those who cared, “If you want to run with Gebrselassie make sure you wake up early because the training run starts at 6.00am”

I arrived outside the venue, Nyayo National Stadium at 6.15 am only to be told the whole thing was invitation only. One guard asked for an official invitation letter, then another guard demanded to know I was from which media house, that is when I decided to be smart and said dailyrunningtips.com!! He did not buy that, and I was told to step aside.

Running Lesson No. 1

Outside the stadium we were five guys, two of us were dressed in running gear while the other three were in T-shirts and jeans. At around 6.30am a lady from the security company came outside and invited me and the other guy in tracks to go in. The rest were politely told to go home. Lesson: Never turn up at a running clinic in jeans!!

Haile Gebrselassie Leading the Runners

Haile Gebrselassie Leading the Runners

Cool down activity

Cool down activity

Gebrselassie sharing his wisdom

Gebrselassie sharing his wisdom

To be great you need a great rival

To be great you need a great rival

Every Runner Got an Autographed T-Shirt

Every Runner Got an Autographed T-Shirt

I have framed it and hanged it my office

I have framed it and hanged it on my office wall

Gebreselassie On Why Ethiopia Produces Successful Runners

I was reading Haile Gebreselassie interview on spike magazine and the great man was asked,

Why have Ethiopians been so consistently successful in distance running? His answer was

  1. Genes – Haile Gebresellassie, Kenenisa Bekele, and Dibaba sisters were born in Bekoji. A small village in ethiopia with a population of 33,000. With such a small population their is a big chance this guys are related one way or another. See the story on Bekoji, the village of athletes
  2. Teff, an Ethiopian food, a rich grain with lots of minerals
  3. Poverty, – Ethiopian runners are one of the three wealthiest people in Ethiopia, the others are businessmen and politicians.  In a country of 80 million people, the majority live hand to mouth, and distance running offers the younger generation one of the few ways out.

    Dibaba has built a two story mansion in Bekoji village, the only other is Bekeles’. Motivated by such signs of success, thousands of kids have picked up running.

Benefits Of Running Barefoot

I have always thought barefoot running is the most dangerous thing a runner can try (Just look at the bleeding feet of Abebe Bikila who won Gold at while running barefoot at 1960 Olympics).

My thought on barefoot running was changed a little bit when I read the following advice on runners world magazine.

Go Barefoot Once A Week
Strong feet and lower legs, plus flexible ankles, equal fewer injuries. One of the best ways to gain this strength and flexibility is by barefoot running, according to McMillan, because you have to work harder at each toe-off and landing. “Try to do a few barefoot strides or some light jogging equal to between one and three laps of a track once or twice each week,” he says. Level grass works the best.

Source: Runners world UK dot com

I will try running barefoot and see how it goes.

Bekoji : Where Ethiopian Runners Are Born

It is interesting to know that Bekoji, a small town of farmers and herders in Ethiopian highlands has consistently yielded many of the world’s best distance runners.

Haile Gebresellassie, Kenenisa Bekele, and Dibaba sisters were born in Bekoji. The athletes attended the same primary school, Bekoji Elementary School, trained with the same coach, a Mr. Eshetu who worked until recently as a Physical Education instructor in the school.

Bekoji is located 170 miles (280Km) south of the capital Addis Ababa. According to Ethiopian Goverment census report, Bekoji has a population of 33,000.

The Unique features of Bekoji

1) Thin Air

The town sits on the flank of Volcano nealry 10,000 ft (3,000m) above seal level, making daily life itself a kind of high altitude training.

2) Genetics 

With such a small population (33,000) there is a big chance this people must be all be related one way or another. If they have a common origin, its fair to argue they carry a running gene.

4) Training. 

Children in this region often start training at an early age, covering great distance to fetch water and firewood or to reach the nearest school. Haile Gebresellassie has always recounted how he used to run 10Km to and from school everyday carrying his books, leaving him with an exraordinary stamina.

5) Rich Neighbours 

Ethiopian runners are some of the wealthiest people in Ethiopia.  In a country of 80 million people, the majority live hand to mouth, and distance running offers the younger generation one of the few ways out.

Dibaba has built a two story mansion in the village, the only other is Bekeles’. Motivated by such signs of success, thousands of kids have picked up running.

America’s Shelane : Progression Running Strategy Lands Olympic Bronze

Yesterday’s Women Olympics 10,000 meters was a good example why its important to stick with your own pace and not to sprint with the herd. America’s Shelane Flanagan seems to have been the only athlete who followed that advice and was rewarded with a Bronze Medal.


Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba won the women’s 10,000m in a new Olympic record by beating Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse in a thrilling battle in Beijing. The winning time was the second fastest ever!


The charge took off immediately they started, It was Lornah Kiplagat, formerly of Kenya, who took control early on dragging the runners through the first kilometre in astonishing three minutes. The majority of the runners paid the price of this high pace, the number of runners in contention was cut to just Abeylegesse and Dibaba with six laps left


British athlete Jo Pavey who slipped off the main group with 11 laps to go told BBC Sport “I’m disappointed, you feel like you’ve made a fool of yourself,” “It was such a blistering pace.”


Progression Running Tactic


America’s Shelane Flanagan did what her fellow county woman Deena Kostar did four years ago in Athens Olympic Marathon: Run a conservative race!


The advantage of starting slow is you save your energy for the last stage. As the bell rung for the final lap I saw only two strong athletes, Shelane and Dibaba. If there was an extra lap, Shelane might have caught up with Silver medal winner, Turkey’s Abeylegesse.

Bekele, Tune Fight over Beijing Summer Olympic Slots

I was reading the morning paper when I read the entertaining story of Ethiopian’s, Bekele and Tune who were involved in a heated exchange as to who deserves a place in  Ethiopia Olympic squad.

The Bekele here is not the famous Kenenisa Bekele but  Bezunesh Bekele a female marathon runner. While Dire Tune was the female winner of this year’s Boston Marathon.

The two faced off in a physical confrontation before their early morning training session. No serious injuries were reported from the incident.

The athletes are both vying for the last selection place in Ethiopia’s marathon squad.

With a few weeks remaining to the start of Beijing Summer Olympics the Ethiopian Athletics  Federation is yet to decide between the two girls. With the clock ticking, the girls are getting anxious and am not surprised they lost their cool.

To Ethiopia  Athletics Federation, Shame On You!

Ethiopian Bikila Win’s Marathon Running Barefoot

After I wrote a post about the risk and benefit of running with worn out trainers, a reader alerted me to the inspiring story of Abebe Bikila who ran bare footed at 1960 Summer Olympics Marathon. The incredible thing about this barefooted Ethiopian runner was he also won the gold.

According to Bikila’s bio on wikipedia, Adidas, the shoe sponsor at the 1960 Summer Olympics, had few shoes left when Bikila went to try out shoes and he ended up with a pair that didn’t fit comfortably, so he couldn’t use them. A couple of hours before the race the decision was taken by Abebe to run barefoot, the way he’d trained for the race.

At the start of the race the Australian Ron Clarke made a comment to Bikila about running barefoot. I didn’t find what Clarke actually said but I guese he said something like “Mate, are you nuts!”

Bikila won in a then record time of 2:15:16.2, becoming the first African to win an Olympic gold medal. He finished 26 seconds ahead of Rhadi Ben Abdesselam of Morocco.

After the race, when Bikila was asked why he had run barefoot, he replied, “I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism.”

Abebe Bikila’s Soles After the Olympic Marathon (1960) picture courtesy of www.runningbarefoot.org

Have an Inspiring Week