A white person running on the roads of Ethiopia attracts a lot of attention. After leaving Addis Ababa (only completing a treadmill run there), where foreigners are a lot more common, it was only once I arrived in the smaller cities and towns that I started venturing onto the roads to cover some mileage.
It was great altitude training with the lowest of my runs taking place more than 2000 metres above sea level, and my highest reaching up over 2800 metres. Even at the altitudes at which I was running I felt comfortable running the training paces I would normally run at sea level. It was a great confidence boost that months of touring, with runs squeezed in amongst my travels had not affected my fitness too much.
The roads of Ethiopia were very quiet in terms of motorised traffic once I left Addis Ababa behind. I would encounter many more donkeys and mules along the roads than I would cars and trucks, and people were constantly heading to and from the cities and towns. With the minimal traffic I stuck to major roads, most of them very well constructed so that I could enjoy the run and focus on my surrounds.
I would head out of town, constantly greeted as I made my way, until I started running past the farms that dot the entire countryside, and there I would also be constantly greeted. Children would run out to the road, and often run alongside me, most of them constantly shouting “Hello! Hello! Hello!” in a constant barrage.
Unfortunately it was also common to be greeted with “Hello, money?”, coming from even the youngest of children. I found that disappointing since it reflects an education of the younger generation to see white people as simply a source of money.
But in general I enjoyed some wonderful runs through the towns and countryside of Ethiopia, and had to be thankful that it was only the younger children that ever ran alongside me, since I know it is unlikely I will continue to run ahead of them once they grow up.