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RAB High Altitude Training Camp - Running

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Posted by  Cody Saturday, 05 September 2009 16:47

RAB High Altitude Training Camp - Running



Newsletter: August 2009


RAB High Altitude Training Camp


The establishment of the Running Across Borders High Altitude Training Camp in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, finally came together when each of the identified athletes chosen to come to the camp arrived from their rural home to Addis in April 2009. Many of these youth would otherwise drop out of school to focus on training, however train in a desperate and unstructured fashion unlikely to yield any positive results or economic gain of any sort. By coming to the Running Across Borders training camp we provide:


·         A structured programme of training for 5 female and 7 male athletes supervised by the expertise of qualified RAB head coach Melaku Biratu and assistant coach Maresha Aserat.

·         Accommodation, food, sports equipment and medical expertise specific to the needs of an endurance athlete.

·         English tuition through Tinbit Amare, our qualified Ethiopian English teacher.

·         The opportunity for our athletes to compete in domestic and international competitions.

·         Potential employment opportunities on site with athletes acting as chefs, sports administrators, cleaners and running guides to foreign athletes.

·         A facility in which to host foreign visitors as part of the RAB High Altitude Visit and Train Programme.


The extensive preparations for the Camp start date of Easter 2009 took place between July 2008 and April 2009: it was important that the Arsi Zone Youth and Sport Administration, where the athletes come from, were on board with our project; that personal liaison with the athletes’ families took place to explain the objectives of the project; and that we had formal agreement from the Ethiopian Athletics Federation that Garrett and I could act as representatives for Ethiopian athletes.  Garrett was able to do this at the beginning of the year while on a fieldwork trip as part of his M.Sc. 


We also focused on a fundraising strategy to support the operations of the training camp. The RAB Sponsor-an-Athlete Programme has enabled us to support each of the athletes bar one in the camp. The RAB Visit and Train Programme, specifically tailored for foreign athletes, has provided a valuable source of income beyond monthly donations. Funding for the start up costs such as rent and utilities, furniture, salaries for the coaches, the teacher, chef, driver and cleaner had to be in place also. Each of the athletes have benefited greatly from their initial 4 months in the training camp and are working hard in each area of camp life in particular the education programme.


RAB Education Programme


The start of the camp in April brought with it the start of the RAB Education Programme. For this first year the camp is focused on English as a Second Language (ESL). Ms. Tinbit Amare, an experienced teacher currently completing her M.A. in Journalism at the nationally-renowned Addis Ababa University, designed the curriculum in consultation with the RAB co-directors. While the athletes learn basic skills like grammar, reading, listening, and writing there is also a strong emphasis on speaking skills; in particular student-athletes are put in situations where they need to speak and converse in English in front of the whole group. Lastly, around 2 hours per week is devoted to special applied assignments. The main activity over the first three-month term was writing letters to their respective sponsors while learning how to effectively answer interview questions and keeping training logs were further assignments undertaken.  The final exam for the first term was given at the end of July.





Jerry Rothwell, a Director from MetFilm Productions, a London-based production company, got in touch with Running Across Borders in July about a film they are making in the lead up to the 2012 Olympic Games. He is filming in a small Ethiopian town called Bekoji where 4 gold medal-winners at the 2008 Beijing Olympics came from, following the story of 4 young athletes from the next generation on their development as runners.  He is interested to explore how the film can be used to impact this small village through a project being established from funds made from the release of the documentary. Running Across Borders knows this town well as we work with the regional sports administration that includes the town of Bekoji, and 3 of our athletes in our training camp are from the town itself.


As a result of this connection Running Across Borders have been invited by the Channel 4 BritDoc Foundation to participate in the Good Pitch on the 7th and 8th of September in London. Jerry, and other select groups of filmmakers, pitch their respective films and associated outreach campaigns to an invited audience of foundations, NGOs, campaigners, advertising agencies, brands and media. A round table discussion exploring the films issues and ways in which the film industry can engage effectively with the NGO sector to bring about social change ensues. The Guardian Newspaper describes it like this: "It’s a perfect marriage. NGOs get access to some of the world’s best filmmakers, and filmmakers get access to research, distribution and funding.”   This is a great opportunity for RAB and Malcolm will be representing the organisation at the round table session on 8 September.


The trailer of the film can be viewed at:

More about the Good Pitch can be found at: 


RAB Sponsor-an-Athlete Programme

We are pleased to announce that Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF) ( have expanded their support for us by agreeing to sponsor a further two female athletes in addition to the three they already sponsor. In particular we were very pleased to welcome Gaby Grebski, Coordinator of the GGRF pen pal programme when she delivered letters from the Sidwell Friends Girls Track Team. This pen pal programme helps the girls in their study of English and forges friendships ‘across borders."


2L Coaching an online coaching company in Pennsylvania partners with us in support of RAB athlete Eda'o Welge Other sponsors include the Guernsey Amateur Athletics Association supporting Eshetu Denbel; Swarthmore College Cross-country Alums, Garrett's former university teammates, sponsoring Daniel Mulugeta; Bart Borghuis sponsoring Endila Tekelab; Peter Middleton sponsoring Yared Hagos having raised money through competing in the Edinburgh Marathon. Triona McGhee sponsoring Aman Suffo having raised money through competing in the Diet Coke East Kilbride 10km race. And Steven Smith sponsoring Haptamu Gotonoho having raised money competing in the Translap Mountain Bike Challenge, an 8 day mountain bike stage race across the Alps covering 630km and 22km ascent in Germany, Austria and Italy. 

Many thanks to all our athlete sponsors. Your support is greatly appreciated


We are presently looking for one sponsor for our remaining male athlete, Mesfin Shifter. Athletes living in the camp can be sponsored for 65 US dollars per month. 50 US dollars provides for the cost of training meals in the camp with a diet matched to the caloric needs and the nutritional composition required for elite level endurance athletes. Having 50 cents per day per athlete (15 dollars per month) provides transportation to various training venues in Addis enabling athletes to train on asphalt, grass, hills and track surfaces and enhancing our properly-balanced training program. See for more information

RAB Athletics Results



22 March 2009 - Ethiopian National Competition


Daniel Alemu had the opportunity to run middle-distance races on a tartan track and it paid off in a big way running 3:46 in the 1500 (a 3-second PB) and 1:52 in the 800 (also a 3-second PB). Eda'O Hussen ran a very impressive 19-second PB of 30:16 in the 10k. At the high altitude of Addis Ababa Stadium even top-level international athletes often struggle to break 30 minutes. Dunkane Keba Desso ran a PB finishing in a solid 36:23 in the ladies’ 10k.


25 June - 6th Annual Great Ethiopian Run Ring Road Relay


Running Across Borders' two men’s teams and one women’s team were competing against well established clubs such as Global Nike Project, Oromia Police and Muger Cement. Achieved on the day were a solid 6th place for our men's A team and 9th for the B team out of 30 elite teams and 6th place for our women's team out of 20 elite teams.

1 July - Chiba Ekiden Annual Marathon Relay, organized by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation. 


This event features relay teams covering the marathon distance in a series of legs of distances 5km, 10km, or 7.195 km, which must be run by a combination of men and women.


1.Habtamu    5km          14:27.9 8th position

2.Dinkuane    5km         18:29.0 9th

3.Girma        10km         29:56.6-8th

4.Nishan        5km         17:31.38-9th

5.Aman         10km        30:16.0—9th

6.Dinkinesh    7.195km   25:43.10—10th   


Marathon Time: 2:15:02: Overall Position 10th out of 18 elite teams.


7 July Assela Stadium: Ethiopian Athletics Federation Youth Development Project Competition.


Developmental athletes Haptamu and Aman posted a 1-2 finish in the 10,000m with times of 30:18.0 by Haptamu and 30:18.3 by Aman. Based on their outstanding performance they were selected to run at the Ethiopian Youth Track and Field Championships. In the 1500m competition Daniel suffered a defeat, something he has rarely experienced at the regional level, but nonetheless ran 3:49.6 for 2nd place.


International Results

22 March - Rome Marathon

In his first ever international marathon Running Across Borders athlete Urga Negewo came through the finish line in 16th position clocking a time of 2:16:01. The 23 year old athlete from the Oromia region of Ethiopia had only raced in one previous

marathon - the Abebe Bikila International Marathon, Addis Ababa in June 2008 (2:20:23). This was the biggest race of Urga’s career to date and his achievement in Rome is a very promising start for such a young athlete.





RAB Visit and Train Programme


In the past few months we have had several athletes train in the camp alongside the Ethiopian runners. Junior Heffernan, a professional triathlete from Ireland, recently came back to the UK after a 3 month stay. One of the highlights for him was when our coach introduced him to the world record holder Haile Gebreselassie. Kayla Nolan, a rising senior on the women's cross-country team at Occidental College, USA spent time on the Running Across Borders VT Programme as well.  Nebiyu Osman, a high school athlete from the USA recently returned from Ethiopia where he participated in our Programme of which further details can be found at:


RAB online and in the media

· - An article about some of Nebiyu Osman's experiences plus a video of a training workout he did with the RAB athletes.

·         Oxford University Keble College Magazine - Garrett Ash, featured in the Keble College magazine the Brick.  See page 9 for the article.

·         Kayla Nolan’s online blog - Kayla is completing a fascinating summer research project on the role of athletics in the lives of Ethiopian women. See her blog at 

·         Freelance writer Amy Reinink has written an article entitled 'Ethiopian runners with DC connections provide inspiration on a rainy day', accounting for three of Running Across Borders female athletes and their sponsors Girls Gotta Run Foundation. See


RAB’s presence in future months: 2009


Ethiopia: RAB athletes have been training specifically for the Suluta Half Marathon, scheduled this month to serve as Ethiopia’s premier national half-marathon and also select their team for the IAAF world half-marathon championships.


Berlin: 15-23 August: Melaku Deresse Biratu, RAB Head Coach and one of the National Team Coaches for the Ethiopian Athletic Federation is in Berlin for the World Athletics Championships. Maresha Aserat, Assistant coach, will oversee the training programme in Addis in his absence.


Newcastle: 31 August: AVIVA British Grand Prix Track and Field Athletics meet in Gateshead.  Malcolm will be in attendance so get in touch if you will be as well!



London: 7-8 September: The Good Pitch: Channel 4 BritDoc Foundation Event at Amnesty International HQ


Ethiopia:  21-26 September 2009: Roberto Ciurleo, Running Across Borders Massuer (

will teach a one-week course on sports massage from the RAB Training Camp.  The objective of the course will be to enhance the sports massage knowledge and skill of all participants which will include Ethiopian medical professionals, students, and athletes. Ethiopian medical professionals and students will enhance their qualifications and/or develop a new career direction. Ethiopian athletes, meanwhile will learn skills that can aid them and their peers in the prevention of injuries.



Loch Ness: 4 October – Bereket Kidanu competes in the Loch Ness Marathon


Venice: 25 October 2009 – Urga Negewo competes in the Venice Marathon.


How to Help Us


Our success to date has been largely through word of mouth, therefore you can help by simply raising awareness of Running Across Borders to your friends. If you are running a marathon, half marathon, 10km or 5km race or even climbing a mountain or doing a cycle race why not consider entering and raising funds on behalf of Running Across Borders. For competitive athletes who think that charity running is for joggers consider giving a portion of your prize winnings to RAB as Garrett did at his last marathon in Loch Ness, Scotland. For the more adventurous why not organize a race to sponsor an organization like RAB, that uses sport itself to promote social development in developing countries.


You can make a recurring or in-kind cash donation to RAB by credit card by visiting our page on the International Humanities Center, our fiscal sponsor, at


or by Cheque, making the cheque payable to 'IHCenter/Running Across Borders' mailing it to:


International Humanities Center, 860 Via de la Paz, Suite B-1,

Pacific Palisades

CA 90272, USA







All funds go directly to supporting athletes and our work in the training camp.


Thank you very much for your support.


You can keep up to date with all our news by following us on our website at: or on Twitter at


Kind regards


Malcolm Anderson                                             Garrett Ash

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