News and Events

New York Times (US)

“Ethiopia Tries to Capitalize on Its Running Fame”

February 27th, 2013 - by Benno Muchler

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Independent (UK)


“Julia Bleasdale: Cross-Continental Runner”

January 3rd, 2013 by Simon Turnbull

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Competitor Magazine (US)


“The Long Run: Running Wild in Ethiopia”

April 29th, 2013 by Scott Jurek

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Capital (ET)


“Hospitality for Athletes”

January 9th, 2013 by Michael Samson

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Fortune (ET)


“Villagisation of Athletics”

February 13th, 2012 by Girma Feyissa

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Toronto Waterfront Marathon Blog (CA)


“Rejean Chiasson to run Harry’s Spring Run Off”


February 26th, 2013 by Paul Gains


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iRun Canada (CA)


“Prevent Injury, Stay Healthy”


June 2013 by Bridget Mallon


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Kitchissippi Times (CA)


“From the trails of the Ottawa River to Ethiopia’s Yaya Village”


March 29th, 2013 by Bridget Mallon


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Selamta (ET)


“In Search of the Secret”


July/August 2012 Issue by Steve Winston


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Run Infinity (US)


“Running with Ethiopians - An Inspiring Experience”


July 16th, 2012 by Alexandra von Moltke


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Ethiopian Review (ET)


“Yaya Africa Athletic Village in Addis Ababa Starts Operations”


January 6th 2012 by Mimi Tessema


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Kitchissippi Times (CA)

March 14th, 2013 by Ryan Grant

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Tadias (ET)


“Ethiopia: The First Private Athletics Village to be built in Sululta”

December 4th, 2009 by Yaya Village PLC

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Yaya Girls Running Program: Trial Race on Sunday February 3rd


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. TRIAL RACE ANNOUNCED AND OPEN TO ALL RUNNERS. THE Yaya Girls Running Program’s trial race to identify the Yaya Girls for the next four months has been confirmed for February 3rd 2013 at the Yaya Village Hotel.  

The program provides disadvantaged, talented female runners aged 15-22 the opportunity to live and train at Yaya Village. With all of their expenses covered, Yaya Girls are exposed to elite level coaching, an intense English language program and a job skills initiative which will leave them with the ability to seek gainful employment upon graduation from the program.

There will be separate men’s (8 km) and women’s (6 km) races with cash prizes for the top three runners in each event. The races will start at 9:00 AM and are open to both local and foreign runners.

Pre-registration is strongly encouraged as there is expected to be high demand for a limited number of entries. There are a number of free pre-registration entries available for local female runners aged 15-22, who are eligible to join the Yaya Girls Running Program.

For local runners who are not eligible to join the program pre-registration is 15 birr and registration on race day is 30 birr. Registration for foreign runners is 60 birr and a donation of 150 birr is recommended. All donations will go entirely towards funding the Yaya Girls.

To pre-register please email, visit the Yaya Village Hotel or call 0911573726.

Yaya Girls Running Program: Campaign Tips and New Target is Set


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN AIMS FOR $12,000. THE Yaya Girls Running Program’s fundraising drive for the January to April season has been hugely successful and has already reached its initial ‘tipping point’ of $4,500, guaranteeing that we will receive the funds that have been pledged.

Since launching on December 14th we have already raised $4,575 which fills us with confidence that achieving $12,000 by January 24th is very possible.

There is now no doubt that at least six new Yaya Girls will be literally up and running by the end of January and we see no reason not to attempt to raise the $12,000 that will provide them with full scholarships for eight as opposed to four months.

The campaign, which is located at has been a huge hit with friends, family and other private donators who have given us a start that everybody at the Yaya Girls Running Program is extremely pleased with. We see no reason why we cannot reach the new goal and are excited to present a talented group of girls with exciting new opportunities that they would not otherwise have access to.

Everyone at the Yaya Girls Running Program sends their very warmest regards and thanks to the generous individuals who have donated and helped us to publicise the campaign. We could not be more pleased and are excited to have you joining us on what we believe will be an incredible and rewarding journey for everyone involved!


Marathon Talk Interview

Joseph Kibur talks to Martin Yelling on his hugely successful Marathon Talk podcast!

International Coverage:

Olympian Julia Bleasdale explains how winter training at the Yaya Village Hotel is helping her prepare for the 2013 cross country season:


Press Release:

Yaya Girls Running Program: Start Some Good Fundraising Page

By the Yaya Girls Team


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. YAYA GIRLS START SOME GOOD FUNDRAISER LAUNCH. THE Yaya Girls Running Program has launched an ambitious fundraising campaign to enable them to increase the number of full scholarships they provide from two girls to eight girls for the January to April running season.

It has been consistently shown that the education and empowerment of disadvantaged girls in developing nations is one of the most effective ways of giving to charity per dollar donated. The money raised in this Yaya Girls campaign will create a huge positive impact on the individual girls, the surrounding community, and eventually, Ethiopia as a whole.

On Friday 14th December the Start Some Good page was launched and is linked here @ The administrative costs of the program are covered entirely by the program’s primary sponsor, the Yaya Village Hotel. Equipment has been generously donated by Yaya Girl's sponsors ReThink Wisconsin and RunningRoom. As a result, all private donations will be used entirely for the Yaya Girls. Funds will cover food, teaching, training, accommodations, medical expenses and travel to races. The YouTube helps explain the mission behind the program and the exciting new direction!

The Start Some Good platform features a two-minute video created by the Yaya Girls Running Program team recapping the initial motivation for the program, how the team envisages the program moving forward, and the importance of combiningathletics, education and job skills training in helping the Yaya Girls to reach their potential.
The initial pilot phase of the program has been extremely successful and has provided the team with experience and knowledge which leaves them well prepared to handle an increased number of girls from January onwards.

The minimum amount required for the program to launch in January with six girls is $4,500. The ultimate goal of $5,800 enables the program to work at optimum capacity, sponsoring a total of eight girls. We have no doubt that the money raised will be used effectively and are extremely grateful to all of the private sponsors who are helping us achieve our goal and START SOME GOOD!

We hope the campaign gets off to a succesful start!

For more information, contact the team @

The Great Ethiopian Run: Press Conference and Pasta Party

By Daniel Price


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. BECKY WADE MEETS HAILE. THERE’S nothing Haile Gebrselassie doesn’t know about running on his home turf and the double Olympic champion was nothing if not generous when he passed on some tips and inside information to young American runner Becky Wade before Sunday’s 12th Great Ethiopian Run which will have 36,000 competitors.

On Friday 23rd November The Yaya Village Hotel staff attended the press conference at The Hilton Hotel. The conference was hosted by the General Manager of the race Ermias Ayele and legendary British marathon runner and race director of the inaugural 2001 event Richard Nerurkar.

Nerurkar interviewed a panel of foreign athletes, which included Yaya’s own elite runner Becky, who received personal advice from Yaya Village Hotel co-owner Gebrselassie on how to run the race. Becky spoke confidently in front of media from around the world about her appreciation of the Ethiopian running culture and the ways in which Yaya Village has served her as an ideal altitude training location. Becky is spending 12 months studying running cultures around the world as an awardee of the prestigious Watson Fellowship.

Team GB endurance star and Yaya Village Hotel guest Julia Bleasdale was also on stage and talked of her breakthrough Olympic campaign where she finished eighth in both the 5 and 10 k events in London. Julia visited Ethiopia frequently between 2006 and 2009 and explained how happy she is to be back for an extended training stay, taking advantage of the high altitude and seemingly endless trails which surround Yaya Village.

On the evening of the 24th November the Yaya Village Hotel is cosponsoring the Pasta Party, a well-attended informal event for foreign athletes who are competing on Sunday morning. Yaya Village will be showing a two minute video showcasing the facilities available at the hotel which was produced by Teddy Yifru, the official videographer of The Great Ethiopian Run. We are thrilled to be part of the weekend festivities and hope that both Becky Wade and Yaya Girl Meseret Godana compete well and are able to demonstrate the benefits of the high altitude training available at the Yaya Village Hotel.


Ethiopian News: Yaya Village Becomes Operational


Yaya Village was established by Joseph Kibur and three other shareholders including double Olympic gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie in 2009. It started operation in 2011 after two years of construction. The location was chosen because of the ideal environment including altitude, temperature and the surrounding forest and mountain area.

The goal of Yaya Village is to provide a world class training facility for both local and international endurance athletes. It is also as our stated mission to contribute to the development of our community. As such we follow the concepts of green tourism by employing local people whenever possible; recycling waste, growing vegetables and spices in our own organic farm and conserving energy. In addition we provide scholarships and other assistance to help the development of young Ethiopian athletes especially women.


Ya Ya Athletics Village (Photo: Addis Fortune)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  (Addis Fortune) – Ever since the great marathon runner Abebe Bikila (Maj) stunned the athletics world by not only breaking the record time of two hours and 12 minutes but also beating the ground for 42 kilometres with his bare feet, Ethiopian distance runners have made a name for themselves over the years. They have also brought honour and reputation to a country that otherwise has made the headline news with its droughts and famines not to speak of the civil strife that casted for decades.

People have wondered why on earth Ethiopian athletes excel at long-distance races, including the marathon. Some curious sports experts have even ventured out to do research, with the intention of establishing scientific explanations for the unfaltering success the athletes have enjoyed time and again.

Questions still hover about their secret. Could it be their training skills or their exposure to international meets? Could it be the ingredients of their daily catering? Could it be the high altitude of the area where they were brought up and trained?

Some of them were even more sceptical about their assumptions when they found out that many of the distance runners came not only from Arsi Zone, Oromia Regional State, but from the same family tree. They contemplate whether the secret is genetic.

It could be anything except one thing.

There have never been any athletic villages, like in Kenya or other countries, in Ethiopia. It was only last week that the Yaya Athletics Village was inaugurated some 11km northwest of the capital on the road from Addis Abeba to Gojam.

Most of the great distance runners were born and raised in rural places and had to jog for miles, daily, to make it to school and back in time. In one way or another, running long distances was not a sport for these students but a way of life, one could say. Indeed, it later became their economic means of life.

The demand for an athletic village was previously going to be satisfied when a nationwide fundraising campaign was carried out in full swing through a telethon show. The project was to establish an athletics centre at Sendafa, a town 38 kilometres northeast of Addis Abeba.

For some obscure reason, the project seems to have been aborted. Tirunesh Dibaba Sports Centre in Arsi Zone has been, so far, the only viable project, the baton carried by owner Tirunesh Dibaba, who incidentally has returned to race after a long dry spell to win races once again, sending a threatening message to her London Olympics rivals.

An Athletics Village, however, has, of late, become a reality, at long last, curtsey of veteran Joseph Kibur, the 40-year old athlete cum investor. The story of the establishment was indeed anecdotal.

The owner was a Diaspora returnee from Canada some six years ago after living abroad for over 30 years.

One day he packed his backpack with his sports outfit and went to Addis Abeba’s National Stadium to do some jogging. To his dismay, the guardsman prohibited him from entering the stadium on the grounds that only registered members are allowed to use the running track. That incident was a blessing in disguise, as the unexpected disappointment sparked the idea of establishing an athletics village in his mind.

The conceived thought was not aborted. He, having consulted with prominent personalities, translated his thoughts into the tangible design and construction of an athletics village not far from the capital.

Negotiating the sloped landscape of the Addis Abeba to Gojam Road for about half an hour, starting from Menelik Square, one comes to a pass in the Entoto Mountains where an open checkpoint is located, closer to which resides the centre.

This area is also a topographical relief that divides two river basins. Every brook and stream in the area carrying rainwater drains into the tributaries of either the Awash or Abay (Blue Nile) rivers, in due course.

After an exclamatory term found in many African languages including Kiswahili, Yoseph christened his athletic centre Yaya Athletics Village, symbolising the enjoyment that athletes will find using facilities and services delivered at the village.

The village, though presently in its embryonic stage, is an 80 million-Br project, based on a strategic plan divided into phases. A sandy running track, beach volleyball court, 30 rooms for lodging, a café on a terrace, a restaurant, bars,  a playground for children, and beautiful parks are already functioning. Horse riding and trekking with a scout is also available. People interested in sightseeing can even walk a two-kilometre distance to the checkpoint spot and enjoy the beautiful panoramic sight of the metropolis and its environs.

Its owner plans to offer free services and lodging to all Ethiopian athletes registered for the coming Olympics competition in London, to be held in the coming five to six months. The village is indeed a cosy place for trekking or lying back in a swinging chair in a park to read. The fresh air and calmness of the village is a typical feature that would be treasured by any nature-loving person.

Athletes coming from any country in the world to be trained in the highlands of Addis Abeba and have taste of Ethiopian athletes’ endurance can use the services of the village at a rate of 75 dollars per day. Local visitors are charged only 50pc of that.

The most interesting offer is the one-year athletics training scholarships given to youngsters coming from anywhere in the surrounding area. Of course, there are criteria to qualify for the scholarships, to be defined by the Village.

No doubt that the village creates employment for many people, including 60 people employed on a permanent basis. In the end, the project will host one of the most attractive resort areas for families who would like to take their children out for recreational hikes over the weekend.

In and of itself, however, the project might indicate the changing landscape of Ethiopian athletics, ascertaining the historic lead that the nation has maintained ever since Abebe’s glorious victory.

Author: Girma Feyissa is a long time columnist for Addis Fortune newspaper based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He can be reached at: