|RUNNING ACROSS BORDERS| In 2009 Girls Gotta Run Foundation and Running Across Borders collaborated to initiate a training program that provided five young women with the support they needed to become competitive runners. With the promise of financial support from GGRF, Garrett Ash and Malcolm Anderson recruited five promising but impoverished female athletes to train under the supervision of the national-level and internationally educated coach (Meleku Deresse Biratu – more info on him on the RAB site), along with the male athletes that were already being supported by Running Across Borders. These athletes were selected to participate in the training program based on their past racing performances, progress in completion of high school, and agreement to abide by the rules and procedures of the program.
The five female athletes selected were Dinkinish Mekasha Tefera, 19, from Tejo, Bekoji; Dunkane Keba Desso, 18, from Kudane, Wellaga; Hana Mergersa Abo, 17, from Chancho, Oromio; Halima Hadji Hayicho, 15, from Dodola in the Arsi zone; and Seada Nura Bati, 18, from Tejo, Bekoji.
The training program consisted of rigorous twice daily running sessions, as well as afternoon classes in English and skill development, such as money management and proper cooking/nutrition for optimal running performances. The athletes were also provided housing, nutritious food, medical attention, access to ideal training locations and entrance to competitive races in Addis Ababa.
By the end of 2010, the results of the girl’s dedication to, and the effectiveness of, the training began to pay off as Dinkinish won a Scottish marathon, her first marathon, in record-breaking time. By the end of 2011, all but one female athlete had established a record of competitive running and had been signed with Ethiopian domestic race clubs where they began earning salaries and were able to support themselves. Dinkinish also won prize money in five international races and was signed by a sports management group.
With the support of Girls Gotta Run and Running Across Borders, all five women were able to pursue their athletic goals, graduate from the training program and become professional runners. These women are now able to support themselves and develop their careers as successful athletes and strong female role models. GGRF and RAB will continue to track their progress and provide informal support should any need or request it.