Monday, 29 July 2013

Guest Blog 5: Shane Benzie from Bekoji in Ethiopia

The latest guest post is an extract from a blog by Shane Benzie, founder of Running Reborn.  Shane has spent some time running with the Ethiopian athletes in Bekoji, made famous by its many Olympic medalists, and the subject of the 2012 film Town of Runners [DVD] From 2014, Shane will be organising running trips to Bekoji.  To register your interest, or to find out more about the services provided by Running Reborn, check out the website.

I’m running at a pace that I know my body will soon refuse to keep up. Two sounds enter my head momentarily blocking out the voice that is screaming at me to stop and just sit down. The first sound is my breathing, we are at altitude, 9200 ft and just when I need it most the air seems unfairly thin. The second sound is the rhythmic footfall of the eight athletes surrounding me; their steps are quick, light and in perfect harmony. Apart from that they are completely silent, not a sound, I can't hear them breath and some are actually smiling. Then with no words spoken or a warning of any kind they move up a gear and I am left behind to watch a blur of colour glide smoothly away.

I am in Bekoji, known as the town of runners, training with some of Ethiopia's best young prospects and the learning curve is as steep as the hills they train on.

Runners from the tiny Ethiopian town of Bekoji have won 8 Olympic gold medals, broken 10 World records and won 32 World championships

I was extremely privileged to accompany Malcolm Anderson co-founder of Running Across Borders  and Kayla Nolan the Executive Director of Girls Gotta Run to Bekoji.  It gave me an amazing opportunity to see first hand how these two organisations work with and support young athletes.  Not only do they help to produce potential world-class athletes, they also help young people to develop as individuals and find careers in industry related jobs such as coaching and sports massage.

To read more about Shane's experience, and what he learned from training with the Ethiopians, click here.