Tyne Bridge Harriers took on the Great Ethiopia Run last month after winning Great Run competition

By Bill McGuirk |

A group of Tyne Bridge Harriers are back on Tyneside after an unforgettable trip to Ethiopia which saw 14 of their members take in the Great Ethiopian Run, thanks to an all-expenses paid 5-day trip courtesy of Great Run.

The Newcastle club earned their place after winning the Great North Run team race and went into the hat with other Great Run victors and it was the Byker-based club who were eventually celebrating.

The group were based in Yaya Village a few miles outside the capital Addis where their accommodation was quite basic but in no time they were running together with one of the greatest endurance athletes ever, Kenenisa Bekele.

The Tyne Bridge contingent ran a few laps with Bekele before going off for a run along the dirt track roads where they were encouraged by local children who had no problem keeping up despite carrying their school books under their arms and, in many cases, running in bare feet!

After the session with Bekele the trip’s main event was scheduled for the following day and it turned into a happy, chaotic experience with 45,000 individuals all dressed in the same t-shirt and treating the event as a huge music and dancing carnival.

No one had a number and no times were actually taken so it was no surprise that any of the Tyneside visitors managed to record new 10k pbs!

After the Run and a quick shower courtesy of the Hilton Hotel, it was the turn of another Ethiopian great to make an appearance.

Haile Gebrselassie, a regular visitor to Tyneside in his hay days, made a fine entrance, joining in the festivities before taking his place on the Tyne Bridge table where he had no qualms about signing numerous autographs as well as donning a Tyne Bridge vest for a never-ending photo session.

The great man was finally dragged away but he still had time to show his ability as a top-class limbo dancer!

Sadly, the trip was over, but the weary athletes will never forget their trip with Dave Moir, one of the lucky 14, saying: “ This was one of the most unbelievable experience for everyone of us.

“We met fantastic people, took part in an amazing run and soaked up as much local culture as we could in the space of five days and who else has had the opportunity to rub shoulders with Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie, two of the greatest runners ever!’’

Source: Chronicle Live
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