Athletics as economic engine in Bekoji


About the project

As we published in our previous project Town Of Runners, the last goal is to encourage the development of Bekoji´s humble area, placed in one of the poorest rural regions of Ethiopia, taking advantage of its athletics singularity as the main economic engine.

In this area of barely 17.000 inhabitants, approximately 170 miles further south from Addis Ababa, the market day brings lots of farmers and ranchers from the outskirts to exchange all kind of goods. There are a lot of donkeys, horses and goats but just around 25 cars, whose owners are well known by everybody. In Bekoji, Chinese companies built new roads in 2010, but they are still full of cattle and wagons.

Bekoji seems to be arid, but it is very fertile and families take advantage of it harvesting cotton, coffee, sugar cane, cereal and different spices. At almost 3.000 meters of altitude, the air is pure and the average temperature is around 18ºC.



Every morning before going to school, hundreds of youngsters, between the ages of 12 and 20, train hard on the red soil. Many of them promise themselves to become the champions whatever the cost. But the ugly truth is that just a handful will be selected by bigger clubs the capital, Addis Ababa.

So, hundreds of youngsters from different villages and cities, compete and aspire to represent their own country in the main events. All of them want to be the next Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Derartu Tulu or Fatuma Roba, also from Bekoji, who, made the same way towards success years ago.


Luckily things are changing in the rural Ethiopia and some people that didn´t leave their studies, have the opportunity to accede to the university in Addis Ababa.

Every other day and minutes before seven o'clock in the morning, the youngsters listen carefully to “the Coach” Sentayehu Eshetu at the "Stadium". None yawns, they listen just his instructions. The other emplacement where trainings take place is out in the forest, a magic place with steep hills surrounding by the smell of eucalyptus.

The stadium is not so magnificent as one might imagine. A primitive platform carved in the land surrounds a track in which the vegetation reaches in some sections almost up to the street 1.

Youngsters with promises

In the rainy season back in the summer months, the water destroys the running track, which has not a drainage system, so the damage continues year by year. Both the construction and the maintenance and repair of the running track is performed by the athletes themselves with the help of some villagers. In the Stadium there are almost no basic facilities. Only a wooden structure with a roof to leave personal items and an outdoor latrine. That's all.


As mentioned in the first Pro-Development Action of Town Of Runners project, one of the objectives of this project is to raise funds to refurbish the "Stadium" and build a functional running track according to the use made of it. Thus training conditions of these future promises will be improved.

The planned actions contemplate the refurbishment of the outer ring of the stadium, providing a drainage system and compacting its floor before pouring a layer of ash on its surface. Regarding adjacent facilities, the greatest need is to create an enclosed space that serves both gym and place to take shelter in the days when the weather does not accompany. This space will also serve as wardrobe and bathrooms will be built connecting them with the poor sewerage system of Bekoji.

Bekoji´s stadium facilities

All these actions are broken down in a detailed budget, which Etiopia Utopia Foundation works every day in order to secure funding. Thus, to add to the funds raised through Town of Runners project, we will try to raise other contributions from private initiatives and the involvement of local and national authorities.

We are putting a lot of effort to get the necessary funds, so that we can carry out all the activities and we will not let important activities fall to the wayside. At the same time, we are working on a joint working group in Bekoji that will be the one who carry out the project. This group will consist of people with wide experience in this type of work, and people from Bekoji who are references in their communities and know the major figures in the region.

Obviously athletics is the distinctive that makes Bekoji different, which has put it on the map. Right now, all the emphasis is on getting individual elite athletes and this has been shown to have rather limited effects on the community. That is why we propose a paradigm shift. The idea is to promote athletics as the economic engine of this region and while the sending of elite athletes abroad will continue to be the calling card of Bekoji, the consequence of this will be to attract sports tourism to visit this region in the central part of Ethiopia.

This is not a job for a month or even a year. It starts with something as basic as the intention that the level of English of the population in Bekoji increase. Something elemental that will allow Bekoji community to open to the outside world and vice versa. With this in mind and taking into account the limited resources mobilized by the project, the proposal is to send to Bekoji area one or more native speakers to teach English.

In Bekoji people live hand to mouth, often working from sunrise to sunset to get ahead, to survive, to have a chance. But to escape from this tough routine is necessary to make an extra effort to invest in the future of the people.

In this context, nowadays there are not many opportunities to socialise in Bekoji. Definitely the center of activity is the market and small shops that surround it. Lately satellite dishes and a basic communications network have arrived to Bekoji. And, albeit still limited, it is increasingly common that information from over the world arrived to them so they can keep abreast of many of the things that happen thousands of miles away. It is in this context that they start rightfully having aspirations to organize themselves in a social level.

This is one of those aspirations that we want to support from Etiopia Utopia Foundation. Because of this we are working on creating an athletics club in the area of Bekoji, necessary for their athletes to feel connected and to share their joys and aspirations promoting a team spirit among them and mutual aid. This project entails both logistical effort to get sports equipment, such as training, to learn the basics of managing a club.

That is why we have already started to work and the first thing we have done is to find a club willing to sponsor the new club of Bekoji. We thank Bidasoa Athletic Taldea for the good reception given to this idea. The next 3th of November, in an act of twinning taking place on the athletics track of Plaiaundi, and taking advantage of the visit of Sentayehu Eshetu and Biruk Fikadu, we will kick off this initiative. In this way, part of the funds raised from Town Of Runners project will set aside for material competition for the new club.




1.- Deliveries are for free within Gipuzkoa.Otherwise, backers will pay for them.

 2.- There are the following LORPEN socks available: (contact to )

  • 12 Size M, Royal Blue, Reference M3LMM T3 Light Micro.
  • 12 Size L, Royal Blue, Reference M3LMM T3 Light Micro.
  • 2 Size XL, Royal Blue, Reference M3LMM T3 Light Micro.
  • 6 Size S, Berry Colour, Reference M3LMW T3 Light Micro.
  • 18 Size M, Berry Colour,Reference M3LMW T3 Light Micro.

 3.- There are the following Sportif T-shirts available: (contact to

  •  10 Size S
  • 18 Size L
  • 16 Size M
  • 2 Size XL


4. - Ethiotrail 2015 TRIP, 6days/5 nights. ( check at: )


  • 6days/5 nights. The race will be on the August 9th.
  • The trip departure will be on August 5th, the arrival time in Addis will depend on the time of arrival of the airline chosen. The return will be on 10th August.


  • Day 1: Arrival and transfer to the Hotel in Addis Abeba.
  • Day 2: Briefing about the journey and tour around Addis Abeba. Night in the city.
  • Day 3: VDrive to Langano on the way visit Adadi Mariam and Lake Ziway. In the afternoon short guided running around Lake Langano and overnight stay at Simbo Langano Resort.
  • Day 4: Pre-race lunch party. Overnight stay at Simbo Langano Resort.
  • Day 5:Race day! Children race (during the race). After race BBQ and overnight stay at Simbo Langano Resort.
  • Day 6: Drive back to Addis, souvenir shopping (optional) and departure to the country of origin.


  • 850€ per person in double room (twin bed)

The price includes:

  • Race registration fee and race pack
  • Hotel accommodation and meals
  • Pasta party and post-race Barbeque
  • All in country transportation
  • One massage, physiotherapy and spa session
  • Training and orientation on highland running
  • Medical support during the race and training sessions
  • Guide service during the training session
  • All entrance fees for all the sites in the tour
  • Basic travel insurance

The price doesn´t include:

  • Two ways flights from Europe to Addis Abeba.

Project location


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4000 REQUESTED 100.35%

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Ethiotrail 2015 trip: 2 people( * )




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Fundación Etiopía Utopía

Fundación Etiopía Utopía

Somos una ONG de desarrollo independiente, apartidista, aconfesional y sin ánimo de lucro, comprometida con el proceso de transformación de una de las regiones más pobres de Etiopía. // We are an independent development N...
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