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Hotter in the long run?

April 21, 2010

marathonEthiopia’s long-distance runners are among the best in the world, winning seven medals at last year’s Olympic Games. Generations of athletes have trained in the cool highlands of Asella but the weather there is changing, apparently as a result of climate change. There are now worries that this could have an impact on the country’s future runners.

For many young Ethiopians, this is where dreams are made. Internationally famous athletes like Haile Gebrselassie and Kenanisa Bekele have trained in these very parts.

Runners attend a training camp named after Tirunesh Dibaba who is the current holder of the world 5000 metres record. But the trainees’ future will depend greatly on the weather. Athletes require no more than 20 C when training and because it’s generally cool, Asella used to be perfect.

Not so lately. Temperatures rapidly increase as the day progresses and now runners have to get up earlier before training becomes almost impossible.

Tefere Alamerew is the squad’s coach. He told Reuters Africa Journal: “The temperature has changed — it’s hotter and hotter — so it will be difficult to train the athletes for the future here because the climate is changed.”

Like some other top Ethiopian runners, marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie was also born in Asella.

“Three weeks ago I was in Asella and I had the chance to jog 3km – around 9 o’clock – 9.30. You don’t believe it – I mean I was sweating, I asked myself, and I was running with Darata Tulu, we were struggling: ‘is this Asella, the place where we were training before? Yes it is.’ It’s amazing. My worry right now, what it will be like after 20 years?”


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