Miruts, Michal & Me
Last year I boldly laid claim to getting the Ethiopian community in Toronto running. This year, the Ethiopians in Toronto are clearly on an upward trajectory led by Ethiopian running giant, Miruts Yifter. How was it that I was able to convince my Ethiopian friends that taking part in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon races was a must? The short answer is orphan sponsorship. Double-gold medal Olympian Miruts Yifter has embraced the cause of the over 1 million orphaned children in Ethiopia. AND joggling in Miruts footsteps was Michal Kapral “the Joggler” who dedicated his successful Guinness World Record attempt to P2P Canada’s orphan sponsorship program.
Leading up to the race we had fun. An interview with Michal gave me the chance to meet up with Michal and Miruts Yifter. Earlier, there was a training session in Riverdale Park where Miruts led the team through some stretching and offered training tips. The interviewer was running late but our time hanging out in the hotel lobby was well-spent. There was a steady stream of elite marathon runners passing by including a few Ethiopians.
This was fun because the Ethiopian athletes kept doing double-takes in delight when they spotted Miruts. I passed my cell phone to Miruts so he could see the YouTube footage of his gold medal 10K and he showed this to the young Ethiopians. When Miruts mentioned that this took place in 1980, the reaction of the two youngsters betrayed the fact that they had not yet been born. This made for an all-round chuckle.
The group also discussed the speed of Miruts last 400 in this race, an astonishing 49 seconds. Apparently, this is an Ethiopian record of sorts for the final lap of a 10K. Miruts of course is nicknamed “The Shifter” for his ability to shift into this otherworldly gear.
Tariku Jufar of Ethiopia finished second in 2:08:36 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 19th, 2014. I finished first in the 55-59 age-category and very much enjoyed having my son and husband take part too. Race morning was finished off nicely with a post-race celebration at Sheba Restaurant where we enjoyed a buffet breakfast of Ethiopian and Canadian goodies. And of course, some great coffee!
Our amazing team of elite fundraisers raised over $35,000 for children orphaned by AIDS in Ethiopia. While a few of the young runners were ahead of me in the race, many were not, which led me to challenge this contingent of young runners to make sure they trained next year to ensure they beat me.