Joe's East Africa Trip 2012

Bekoji, Ethiopia - Tuesday 10/30/2012

Bekoji is a small village (pop. 30,000) located 220 km south of Addis Ababa and is the birthplace of such greats as Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele, and Derartu Tulu - all multiple olympic gold medalists. Bekoji has gained further fame through the 2011 documentary Town of Runners, a must see! Through communications with Running Across Borders (RAB) a 3 day clinic had been arranged where I would work with Coach Sentayehu and his group of over 200 runners on injury treatment and prevention.

Tuesday morning I headed out, with Gudisha (my immensely valuable translator), to the site of the morning workout - 'the woods'. As depicted in the film, this is a small, densley forested area located on a 15-20% grade hill. There we found the runners (again hundreds of runners) all in brightly colored running shirts and jackets all dodging and weaving around trees. I soon found Coach Sentayehu and we began talking through the plans for the clinics while the runners continued with their workout, their workout consisting of 60 minutes of 20 sec hill sprints w/ a 1 min walk down - so 30-40 hill sprints!

After the workout the groups started to congregate on a small grass area and it was decided that was a good place for me to hold my first clinic. With Gudish translating, I talked to the group about causative factors to repetitive motion injuries, how to prevent injuries, and how to treat injuries on their own. Many volunteers came forward and all seemed to be greatly interested in learning more about how they can become more responsible to staying injury free. Here is the group...

It was then arranged I would work with the RAB sponsored women later in the afternoon. In the meantime I had a few errands to do in town, so with an entourage in tow we walked through the main streets and market area - as a side note I was the only Ferengi (caucasion) in the entire town so my presence did not go unnoticed and the kids could not be more excited as they would often run up to me, touch my arm, and run off. As is most of Ethiopia, it was very safe and the folks were very friendly.

Later in the afternoon I headed over to the track to meet with Coach and the RAB women. During the walk over, Gudisha, some of his friends, and myself had about 10 kids following our every step. While I was working with the athletes, Coach Sentayehu had to literally shoo the kids away so we would have space to work. The kids would giggle and we would all laugh. Afterwards I ran with Gudisha for a bit around the track, the kids racing to stay with us. While stretching after I noticed these kids were all doing the exact stretches I was doing so I led an impromptu 'yoga' class with them, basically seeing what odd positions we could all get into, while we were all laughing the whole time. Here are the kids...

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