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Running Deep in the Heart of Ethiopia’s Rift Valley

Inspiring images from Ethiopia's Rift Valley.

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Located in the heart of Ethiopia’s ancient Rift Valley, along the shores of lakes Abijata and Shalla, the international Ethiotrail trail race is held every August. Set in the wild and beautiful Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park, Ethiotrail offers 21K and 12K distances that wind through Oromo tribal villages, thick Acacia forests, up and over ancient volcanoes and along the shores of Lake Shalla. For the third year, a large field of Ethiopian and international runners from more than 20 countries raced over the landscape in a celebration of trail racing, park conservation and cultural honoring.

August is the rainy season in Ethiopia, and so it was no surprise that the Aug. 7 race was true to its trail running roots, with small ravine crossings, off-trail sections climbing rocky volcanoes and winding two-track sections that took runners through Oromo tribal villages. Many of the local Oromo people came out to cheer on the runners, watching as everyone had a chance to win the substantial prize purse of 10,000 Birr (roughly equivalent to one month’s pay in Ethiopia). In the end, despite the rough nature of the course, the winning Ethiopian runners were able to cover the course in 1:16 for the men and 1:28 for the women.

Get a glimpse of the splendors of the Ethiotrail races through the images and captions below.