Town of Runners

About This Episode



Long-distance running is a way of life in the Arsi region of Ethiopia, a country acquainted with poverty, famine and war. Many great runners hail from Bekoji, a small remote town in the Southern Highlands. The success of these runners is largely due to the dedication of Sentayehu Eshetu, whose protégé, Derartu Tulu, became the first African woman to win an Olympic gold.

The town holds few opportunities for its young people beyond subsistence agriculture. Only a small percentage of young girls will move on from primary to secondary education, and athletics offers a chance at a different life. Competition to become the next track star is intense, and the pressure on Sentayehu is high. Town of Runners delves into the children's lives to understand the significance of running for them and the obstacles they face, creating a portrait of African youth seen through the lens of ambition and hope.