Joe's East Africa Trip 2012

Bekoji, Ethiopia - Thurs 11/1/2012

Today was 'track day' for the group. I arrived at the dirt track, and similar to Iten, the track was packed with hundreds of runners. The runners were broken up into event groups (similar to the previous days) and each group had their own workouts. I monitored the half/full marathon men - who did 4*2000 meters at around 3:05/km pace. Nothing too difficult for advanced runners, if they weren't at 2700 meters altitude!

After each group finished their workouts they would start to do a progression of drills. 'Drills' may not be the best word for these patterns of movement. As a single unit, everyone in the group would sway their arms, twist their bodies, bend over, lean back, all in a controlled, smooth, hypnotic manner. The sequence was obviously well known to everyone as they were always step by step together. The 'dance' seemed almost ritualistic, or spiritual, serving more to bond the group together then provide a mechanical benefit. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to take a picture or video of this.

As the workouts finished up the groups started to gather for their daily talk from Coach Sentayehu. By this time everyone knew me and soon there was a line of runners wanting me to address their various injuries. Fortunately Gudisha was there to assist with transition and we spent as much time as possible with the group before I had to head over to go through the videos from yesterday with the RAB men. After 2 hours of going through the videos and talking with each RAB runner individually we all had lunch together before I had to head to Addis Ababa.

As I left the small, remote village of Bekoji some of the more unique memories of the last few days came to mind:

  • The elderly lady who every morning goes over to 'the woods' to sweep all the leaves off the roots so the runners can see them.
  • Talking with Coach Sentayehu and his comment that 'they only run once per day because they don't have enough food to run more'. Much different than Iten.
  • The single leg balance competition I had a group of 5 runners do. They all could stand on one leg with their eyes closed and the leg bent for a very long time without ever touching the ground, and I'm sure they've never practiced!

  • (The next Tirunesh Dibaba!)

    <<< Day 5 --  Day 7 >>>

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