Great concern for the Great Ethiopian Run

By Henok Reta

The Great Ethiopian Run has been so named for the numerous positive contributions that it brings to the county. In fact, it is ‘great’ in Africa as well since there are not many such events. As the renowned athlete Haile Gebresilasie with his undying fame had started the event some ten years ago, organizers and commentators had carefully listed out many positive spillovers of holding such a  public event and, indeed, it evolved into one of the most prominent events in the capital.

In spite of a growing applause for the athletics festival, the city, on the other hand, appears to be celebrating its day of dirt.

Tens of thousands of people take part in such massive and historical road event every year There are also thousands of thousands of plastic bottles, packs and foils of chocolates, candy and chewing gums, fruits skin and cigarettes left behind on the streets. While flocking to Maskal Square, where the race kicked off in the morning last Sunday, partakers can be observed packing different support items for the race sealed spring water bottles being the most common.  Many tended to leave all used materials everywhere. As Addis is an international city, the main streets and avenues should be kept tidy all the time.

As it stands at the moment, the city does not have adequate administrative care for the cleanness of the streets, and cleaning campaigns are not as such common these days. Furthermore, its plight appears to be getting worse in the face of the construction booms. Old slums get demolished to make way for new skyscrapers and this might leave loopholes until new sanitation systems and drain pipes become operational. On top of such an agonizing sanitary condition of the city, littering the streets with dirt on Great Ethiopian Run and other similar other events are like putting fuel on fire, according to residents that The Reporter talked to.

However, it is not all bad, as some of the commuters in such events have been displaying very responsible behaviors as they were seen taking time out to toss used tissues in nearby dustbins, even when participating in the event. Still quite a few took the extra mile to convince other participants to do the same.

Despite its incredible popularity and acceptance, the great run has been facing challenges, particularly in discipline and cleanliness.  It is a great concern for some people that concerns might overshadow the fame of the festival. Commentators say that the organizers should address such concerns by planning ahead of the race. “This can be done by delivering messages, putting out motto on the running jerseys and hanging out banners along the route.

Experiences of countries that host such big events in other parts of the world say that they use it to mobilize the crowd towards a certain task, in which people volunteer. Perhaps, this could be a payback for the city while hosting such a big continental occasion, residents say.

Dagmawi Amare, coordinator of the Great Run, says that the organizing committee assigns special task force to help clean the streets in the aftermath of the race. However, she said that there is no plan to mobilize participants for such a task.

Source: The Ethiopian Reporter