Eat, Run, Educate & Cure Blindness in Ethiopia

A Journey of A Lifetime 

Restoring Sight. Educating Leaders. A Race for the Future.

Post-operative cataract patients celebrate in Mekelle, Ethiopia. Courtesy National Geographic Poland


  • running with world champions Haile GebrselassieGebre Gebremariam and Werknesh Kidane
  • touring the Ethiopian countryside with these legendary runners as your personal guides
  • helping an eye patient remove their bandages and see for the first time
  • exploring ancient trails with Scott Jurek that lead to some of the oldest Christian churches in the world
  • participating in a half marathon alongside 100 up and coming Ethiopian runners 
  • meeting teachers and children that benefit from sustainable education projects in rural villages
  • cooking and camping in a rural village while learning the secrets of Ethiopian cuisine and the local community

Join me February 22, 2013 as I team up with The Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) and imagine1day on the  ACCELERATE ETHIOPIA trip.  This is a trip of a lifetime that includes my passions of running, food and giving back.  I love when I can combine all of them together and ACCELERATE ETHIOPIA is a magical mix that I am looking forward to sharing with runners of all abilities.

The journey begins in the capital city of Addis Ababa where we will meet up with the legendary Haile Gebrselassiefor a run and a chance to pick his brain.

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Haile Gebrselassie competing on the track in Hengelo, the NetherlandsPhoto: Wikipedia

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Gebre Gebremariam in 2011 NYC Marathon. Photo: Wikipedia

We’ll then make our way to Tigray, “The Cradle of Humanity” and the surrounding Gheralta Mountains.  World champs Gebre Gebremariam and Werknesh Kidane will join us for the rest of trip, giving us an insider’s view of their homeland.

Photo: Peter Doucette

Each day we will get out for fun training runs on local trails and dirt roads.  I’ll make sure Gebre and Werknesh take it easy on us!

The Gheralta Massif proper. Photo courtesy Gabe Rogel & Vertical Ethiopia

Accessing Abune Yemata. Photo by Peter Doucette

We’ll explore the mystical trails in the Gheralta Mountains that lead to sacred sites and ancient underground Christian churches that were hewn out of volcanic rock over 1000 years ago.

With a small group of 15 participants, you’ll have plenty of one on one time with the Ethiopian greats and I’ll be incorporating some running clinics into our daily schedule.

In the middle of our trip we will be participating in a three day eye camp where over 1000 people will be cured of blindness.  Working alongside HCP physicians and volunteers we will be escorting patients and assisting with bandage removal.  My friends who have worked at an eye camp tell me that watching a blind patient open their eyes after surgery is one of the most unforgettable experiences of their life.


A cataract patient is prepared for surgery in Mekelle, Ethiopia. Courtesy National Geographic Poland  

An Ethiopian farmer with his sight restored. Courtesy Toni Cervantes

A mother’s sight restored in Ethiopia after a Himalayan Cataract Project eye camp in Arbaminch. Courtesy Toni Cervantes

We’ll also be camping overnight with one of imagine1day’s partner communities where villagers will teach us how to cook Ethiopia’s famed dishes, take part in a sport competition with children, and party through the wee hours, singing and dancing under the stars with new friends.

A village celebration, drumming and dancing around a bonfire under the stars.  Photo: imagine1day

Preparing injera, Ethiopia’s staple made of the high-protein grain teff.  Photo courtesy Gabe Rogel and Vertical Ethiopia

A bubbling pot of shiro wat, a staple in Ethiopia made of powdered lentils, red onions and the perfect blend of spice.  Photo: imagine1day

While staying in the village participants will meet the some of the children, teachers and parents impacted by imagine1day’s work.  Since 2007, imagine1day’s work has benefitted over 45,000 children and 1,000 teachers, from 89 schools in the Tigray region.

Even in the absence of desks and books, children in Ethiopia are eager to learn.  In 2011, imagine1day built a fully furnished school for these children who were previously sitting on stones in makeshift classrooms in the northern Tigray region.  Photo: imagine1day

imagine1day’s Active Learning teacher training programs transform classrooms into student centred learning environments.  Photo: imagine1day

While visiting the schools we will get out on the field and take part in a sport competition with children.  Photo: imagine1day

The trip finishes with the first ever trail race in The Cradle of Humanity.  We’ll run a spectacular 13.1 mile course in the Gheralta Mountains joined by Gebre, Werknesh, and 100 up and coming Ethiopian runners.

Girls converge at the start line of a 1,500 metre race at an imagine1day interschool sports competition.  Photo: imagine1day

The Gheralta Massif proper—we’ll be running all around this one during our time in Tigray and the race itself starts at a town at its base. Photo courtesy Gabe Rogel and Vertical Ethiopia.

Rounding the corner of a dirt track, a group of boys compete for the title of fastest 3,000 metres amongst 30 of imagine1day’s partner schools.  Photo: imagine1day

Best of all, your participation in this trip will help fund the three day eye camp where The Himalayan Cataract Project will perform over 1000 eye surgeries.  In addition, the money you raise will continue imagine1day’s goal to ensure all Ethiopians have access to quality education funded free of foreign aid by 2030.

For more details and registration visit the ACCELERATE ETHIOPIA homepage.  Looking forward to eating and running through Ethiopia with you!


   Every year Camp Goodtimes chooses a charity to raise money for (shout out to 2010’s choice: imagine1day). This summer’s choice is ‘Free the Children’.

   Free the Children was started after 12-year-old Craig Kielburger went to India in pursuit of fighting child labour. He founded the organization in 1995 and today they have more than one million young people involved in their programs in 45 countries. The video is Kielburger during his initial trip to India.

The primary goals of the organization are to free children from poverty and exploitation and free young people from the notion that they are powerless to affect positive change in the world. Through domestic empowerment programs and leadership training, Free The Children inspires young people to develop as socially conscious global citizens and become agents of change for their peers around the world.