What does it take to rise above cultural traditions and envision a brighter future?
As part of our global quest to find running culture and community for Jaybird’s Run Wild film series, we traveled to the small village of Bekoji, Ethiopia, a rural farm town that has produced some of the world’s best distance runners.
We went to Bekoji to witness a revolution—an incredibly inspiring and driven group of young female runners who were part of the Girls Gotta Run Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to using Ethiopia’s national sport of running to create safe spaces, expand education and empower young Ethiopian women and their communities.
After experiencing the way GGRF and these young girls were changing the traditional narrative of opportunity for Ethiopian women, we were deeply inspired to help them make a difference.
Inspired by these young girls and in honor of International Women’s Day, we’ve set out to provide every member of Girls Gotta Run with a new pair of running shoes and a running outfit. Every $75 we raise provides one girl with a full running kit—join us in helping empower and create a brighter future for Ethiopian women.
From every headphone sold donated to Girls Gotta Run.
To outfit one member of Girls Gotta Run with an new running kit.
A two-time UTMB champion and one of the world’s best female ultra-runners, Rory is traveling the globe in search of the future of running culture.
"If any of these young women’s lives are shifted onto a path of independence or higher education, or are able to walk into the next stage of their lives empowered as young women and in charge of their own future, that alone will have a ripple effect through the community, and hopefully the rest of the world.”
Head coach for the GGRF Bekoji Program, Fatia is the first and only female coach in Bekoji. After training to become a professional marathoner, she decided to pursue coaching to help other young girls achieve their goals.
“When I train the girls and see the change in them, that makes me happy. With the training they can be champions and reach to higher levels in their future...Running can change the world.”
14-year-old Derartu is an eighth grade runner who has been in the GGRF’s athletic scholarship program for the last three years. She lives with her parents, grandmother and two sisters in a traditional farming house just outside Bekoji.
“I will not stop because of the fatigue, because I think about my future life. I want to be a professional runner, so today’s tiredness won’t matter.”
A small rural farm village of 17,000 people in the central highlands of Ethiopia, Bekoji has produced an extraordinary amount of Olympic distance runners, who have brought home 16 medals in the last 20 years.
“You say the word Bekoji to runners and they immediately know, ‘oh, that’s where the fastest Ethiopians come from.”
Sign up to receive exclusive offers and updates