Girls Gotta Run
Nestled in the high plateau a few hours outside of Addis Ababa, Bekoji is home to some of the most phenomenal runners the world has ever seen.
The village exists as a hotbed for some of the best runners in the entire world. A combination of high altitude (2800m+), lean diet, and extremely disciplined dedication to the sport, people from the area (and all along the rift valley down into Kenya) are evolutionarily adapted to be runners. The fertile landscape produces abundant vegetables, coffee, and the iron rich grain teff, which is used in the Ethiopian staple injera. Physical strength comes from the labor that it takes to survive and running exists as every family’s means of escape. It’s no wonder the town has produced 16 Olympic Medal runners in the past twenty years.
Girls Gotta Run is the only non-profit organization in Ethiopia dedicated to creating spaces for the country’s young women through running. Through partnerships with local communities they invest in the girls and their family’s future by ending child marriage and expanding access to secondary education so they can use running as a tool to empower themselves and their community.
I spent a week in Bekoji with the director of GGR making house visits with her and and getting super caffeinated.