Who is Haile Gebrselassie and why is the race named after him?
Haile Gebrselassie is the greatest, most versatile distance runner in world history. He has two Olympic gold medals—1996 and 2000, both in 10,000 meters—he won four world championships medals, and has broken 27 world records. He won the Berlin Marathon four times, and became the first athlete ever to run a marathon in under 2:04.
He gained even greater attention when he was the subject of an award-winning documentary, Endurance, which chronicled his rise from a young child growing up on a rural farm to an international superstar. He is not only the greatest runner in a country with a rich road and track history, but he is also a sports, business and cultural icon of the first order.
Until now, there hasn’t been an international marathon in Ethiopia, so we were thrilled to partner with Haile since he is so well known, well loved and well respected throughout the world.
More: How to Run Relaxed
What is his role with this event?
Haile is playing an integral role in bringing Ethiopia’s first people’s marathon to his homeland. He will participate in activities throughout race weekend with runners and tour guests, and many organizational elements and festivities will take place in and around his lakeside resort in Hawassa.
He has been instrumental in encouraging runners from all over the world to come together for this inaugural event, which is limited to only 1,200 runners.
More: 3 Goal-Setting Tips for First-Time Marathoners
Will runners get the opportunity to meet him, or other elite runners?
Absolutely. Many world-class Ethiopian athletes are involved with the event, and they will be on hand to share their culture, traditions, advice and love of the sport.
What are the advantages of competing in a unique destination race?
In our research with runners from all over the world, we determined that many athletes who travel to "destination marathons" don’t often have an opportunity to explore the country they visit.
Because Ethiopia is so rich in running history, and because it is not as widely traveled as other parts of the world, we wanted to offer runners the chance to experience firsthand this remarkable country that is known for the warmth and generosity of its people, and its fascinating ancient culture with roots that trace back to the time of Solomon.
More: How to Create a Flexible Marathon Race Plan
What packages are available to interested competitors? What is included in the price of registration?
There are five tour packages to choose from, and four out of five tours can be taken either before or after race weekend. Tour highlights include visits to Lake Tana, which is the source of the Blue Nile, trekking in the Bale Mountains, an excursion to the Omo Valley—the Africa of painted warriors, women with clay-lip plates and homes made of thatch and banana leaves. There will also be trips to Lalibela, a remote mountain town famous for underground churches carved out of solid rock.
Prices include: race entry fee, accommodations for the duration of the tour, all meals (unless otherwise noted) entrance fees for all sites mentioned in itinerary, guide services, hotel-airport transfers, domestic flights, ground transportation, service charges and VAT.
Prices do not include: any cost of a personal nature, alcoholic drinks, payment for taking photographs or recording videos, tips, visa costs and international airfare to Ethiopia.
What post-race goodies will be awaiting runners after they cross the finish line?
Traditional post-race recuperation nourishment will be provided—water, fruit, electrolyte-replacement drinks, etc.—and in addition we will host a post-race barbeque a few hours after all races have been completed.
More: 8 Baby Steps to the Marathon for Beginners