Amanu Terriesa

Physical fitness is a major concern of public health and has been so for years. Because of our occupations, many of us seem to forget the essentialness of exercising. But the past few months, in an attempt to fight the pandemic ravaging out and about, much of the global, as well as the national population, have been in lockdown, and the attention to personal wellness has been at an all-time high. Many fitness trainers and other concerned experts have taken it upon themselves using social media outlets to urge people to exercise and stay fit. In an attempt to do its part, the Great Ethiopian Run has announced that it will hold a virtual race, titled ‘Stay Safe Ethiopia’, as part of its ongoing campaign to promote healthy living among Ethiopians.

The Ethiopian Great Run launched the ‘Stay Safe Ethiopia’ campaign in light of these issues and registrations for the virtual run started early May. The virtual run is planned to be held at the beginning of June. In line with the guidelines that prohibit a collection of people, not only does each participant will run their route, but they also allow only 500 people to participate. To support the COVID-19 prevention initiative, all the proceeds from this event will be donated to the fight against the pandemic. This is following the 500 thousand birr donation previously made by the Great Ethiopian Run for Covid-19 National Fund Raising Committee.

“Unlike its other runs, Great Ethiopian Runs will be allowing the participants to design their shirt-numbers, which is another unique trait of this event.”

This event is such an inspiration. Although the competitive sense would be lacking, upon registration, each participant is asked to input a guess at how much time it would take them to finish the five-kilometer run. In this, they have set a system to make sure there is a goal to aim at and, if possible, a bar to surpass.

So how do they plan on going about it? One of the things they make the participants do is selecting a running app from two options: Strava and Runtastic, both of which are free. Strava (Swedish for ‘Strive’) is a popular fitness app that comes with tracking, analyzing, sharing, and exploring features. Runtastic (run by Adidas) comes equipped with the same components. A course will be charted and the participants will be responsible for the rest.

Ethiopian Great Runs is known for its eye-catching and creative shirts participants to get when they pay their entrance fees. Unlike its other runs, Great Ethiopian Runs will be allowing the participants to design their shirt-numbers, which is another unique trait of this event. The idea is to give participants the chance to use their slogan to express their ways of uniting together to fight the virus.

“This is a typical Great Ethiopian Run initiative,” comments Michael Mesfin who has already decided to register for the race. “It encourages us to stay fit. But this is more than just sport and our fitness. It captures the spirit of the moment whereas a country we need to unite, protect ourselves, and help others. Just by taking part we can all have that winning feeling, and I for one will encourage many of my friends to take part, too.”

Like all the previous runs, the Great Ethiopian Run will award every participant who has crossed the finish line. “Every local participant in the 5km virtual run will receive finishers’ medal, Sofi Malt, and Arki bottled water,” Great Ethiopian Run said on their website, “And every international participant will get an electronic-certificate signed by Athlete Haile Gebreselassie.”

Registration for the race is very easy. On their website (https://ethiopianrun.org/en/races/virtual-5k), a link will direct the user to a Google Docs page where a form requiring basic information will need to be filled out. For local participants, payment can be done through either Amole or Ethiotelecom.

Keeping our fitness up should be a major priority in a time like this. By participating in events such as these, not only do we get a dose of exercise in such an entertaining manner, but we also help spread the reach of these initiatives and in doing so, raise the number of funds collected in the battle against the pandemic. It also does wonders in keeping the nation’s spirits high in a bad time like this.

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