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Great Ethiopian Run 2015

On the eve of the 2015 Great Ethiopian Run International 10km, the Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO) is delighted to announce a plan to develop and promote running-based tourism in partnership with the Great Ethiopian Run (GER) and Run in Africa Sport Travel/RIA Ethiopia -which has partnered with Great Ethiopian Run to stage trail-running events at the Abiata Shalla National Park and Wenchi Crater Lake-.

In its 15th edition the 10km Great Ethiopian Run has attracted this year record number of more than 700 running tourists and gives impetus to the plan proposed by ETO which will soon be shared with public and private stakeholders including regional tourism bureaus, incoming tour operators and hotel owners. Following these consultations ETO intends to design a road map for a more focused effort to develop running tourism.

ETO’s plans come off the back of findings which show a continued upward trend in running participation worldwide. According to Running USA, measured only by the number of road races in the USA in 2014, there were almost 19 million finishers, more than twice as many as there were just a decade ago.  The number of women is also increasing. In 1990 women participating in road races accounted 25% while in 2014 the proportion soared to 57%.

In addition to marathons staged in big cities such as London, New York and Berlin, there has been a rise in popularity of other events such as trail events and extreme challenges. In Africa, Kenya is leading the market on running related tourism and competitions, with dozens of road and trail races. South Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are also organizing road and trail running events.

The main segments of the running market are international elite athletes (not big in number but important to build a reputation as a running destination), adventure runners (who love nature and are in search of extreme challenges) and fun runners (the largest segment made of leisure runners that can be quite serious at their hobby and combine running with leisure tourism).  For example, running camps that originally targeted professional athletes are now attracting increasing numbers of leisure runners who want to improve their technique and prepare for upcoming running events.

Ethiopia has the opportunity to take advantage of the growing interest in running in the main tourism generating markets to position itself as a preferred runners destination. Ethiopia can build on its strengths as land of long distance champions, the diversity of high altitude areas suitable for training and its dramatic landscapes suitable for trail running events.

Running is a national passion in Ethiopia with its legendary running champions providing a natural magnet for running tourists. There are already a number of facilities offering accommodation for runners and opportunities for altitude training in locations such as Sululta, Asela and Bekoji.

The ETO is already including running in the new promotional brochures and website currently being prepared and is ready to lead the way for an organized and systematic effort to develop and promote running based tourism. The final aim is diversifying the tourism product, attracting more tourists and offer new job and business opportunities for the Ethiopian people.