Paulo Ross Runs 10K Fundraiser for Concern in Ethiopia
CITYBEAT presenter and Ardglass man Paulo Ross has recently returned from Ethiopia where he participated in the Great Ethiopian Run alongside Concern’s charity fundraiser Elley Martin.
The pair joined 36,000 other competitors for ‘the world’s highest and toughest 10k’ and they helped raise £6,620 for Concern Worldwide (Concern).
The 10km run took Paulo and Elley through the streets of the historic Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, passing through Meskel Square and the National Theatre at the truly breathtaking altitude of 8,000 feet. Since the first race in 2001, it has attracted high-profile athletes such as Paula Radcliffe, Tilahun Regassa, Wude Ayalew and its creator, Ethiopian two times Olympic gold medal winner Haile Gebrselassie.
Paulo finished the race in a time of 01:13:12.
‘It was an amazing experience,” said Paulo. “I was there for five days. Just before I arrived I was a bit apprehensive not knowing what Ethopia would be like and even thought about my own personal safety. My first impression of the poverty in the capital city Addis Ababa was very profound. I think it is the third poorest country in the world, and the hardship is just written everywhere.
“During the trip, we visited a number of Concern funded projects including a HIV and Aids programme which supports local women living with the disease to develop a new trade in embroidery and pottery. This project enables the most marginalised in society to provide income for their families. Instead of these women being left to die, the Concern strategy has put in place a mechanism for them to contribute to the fight against Aids. They learn new skills that they can keep for the rest of their lives. Concern is about more than feeding the hungry.
“It’s impossible to put into words what made my experience of the 2012 Great Ethiopian Run so special. Describing the atmosphere as electric simply doesn’t do it justice.
“There were around 200 people from all over Ireland and the North there. In my group I met John Treacy, a Los Angeles 1984 silver medalist in long distance running. And I also got a chance to meet the Irish embassador at a reception at the Irish embassy.”
Running in the sizzling 40 degrees heat was a huge challenge for Paulo and he added: “The altitude was around 8000 feet and two steps felt like going a mile. If you drank a pint of water it felt like three. It was really exhausting, but we were all pumped up ready to run the 10K.
“The sights and sounds and amazing support from fellow Concern participants went some way to distract from the time-impeding altitude of Addis Ababa at 8000 feet and the East African sun. Although this 10k run offered me one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever undertaken, it really did feel more like a cultural carnival than a race.”
And Paulo added, “When I returned home to Northern Ireland it just made me fully appreciate how much we have going for ourselves here in Northern Ireland compared to the extreme difficulties the population faces in Ethiopia. We’ve a lot to be thankful for here in many ways.
“I’ll certainly take up another challenge again. This trip was fantastic. Travel certainly broadens the mind. I’m delighted to have made a contribution and raised awareness about the plight of the people in Ethiopia.”
For more information or to register for the Great Ethiopia Run 2013 text ‘DARE’ to 78866.