- Title: Thousands take part in Great Ethiopian Run despite state of emergency.
- Date: 21st November 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF RUNNERS DANCING
- Embargoed: 6th December 2016 12:12
- Keywords: Great Ethiopian Run Athletics State of emergency security runners Haile Gebreselassie
- Location: ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
- City: ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
- Country: Ethiopia
- Topics: Marathon,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA00459E02TZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The Great Ethiopian Run drew thousands of participants on to the streets of Addis Ababa on Sunday (November 20) despite a state of emergency imposed in early October following months of unrest that the government said threatened the nation's stability.
The 10km high altitude road race, which is in its 16th year attracts professional and amateur runners from around the world.
Organizers said there were a record 40,000 registered for the race this year, including 500 professional runners.
The women's race winner was a newcomer - Foiteyn Tesfaye, who finished in a time of 33:09.
"My name is Foiteyn Tesfaye and I come from Tigray Region and I represent Mesobe Cement Club. The race was very interesting and challenging at the same time. This is my first time to take part in it. It was very fast and I was told my time is the fastest ever so I am happy," she said.
Security personnel had been deployed throughout the city.
Organizers said there were cancellations with many international participants citing security fears over the six-month state of emergency that has been in effect since October 8.
More than 500 people have been killed in protests in the Oromiya region surrounding the capital Addis Ababa and other areas since last year, after anger over a development scheme for the capital sparked broader anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses.
"We had lots of cancellations after the state of emergency but we still managed to get like 250 runners. Yesterday we had a pasta party for them at the Hilton and we just wanted to show and promote Ethiopia, we had traditional music, coffee so its not bad but its a reduced number and I hope we will get more next year," said Dagmawit Amare, an organizer.
Long-distance running great, Haile Gebreselassie, who started the race back in 2001 and was recently elected head of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation said the event's success despite the challenges, had been a showcase of the country's stability.
"I think, this it helps a lot because in all the security and everything was in a perfect, perfect way. You can see what is going on here. I know just some people from abroad they were a little bit worried. Some of them the were, after they came here ... what a wonderful thing, nothing happened. Really for me... amazing," said Gebreselassie.
"My name is Meron and I came from Kera area and I am running for the 10th time. It was a wonderful run. I wish it is more frequent. It was very peaceful and we are all happy because it ended in a peaceful manner," said Meron Gebremedhin, a race participant.
Ethiopia is also grappling with doping issues and poor results on the track after just one gold medal at the olympics in Rio earlier this year.
This year's Great Run introduced, for the first time, a wave start to let serious runners go ahead of thousands of joggers and many who were there for fun.
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