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Review of ‘Town of Runners’ documentary.


A little while ago, we enjoyed the company of a young man named Abrham Tadesse – during his 4 days of work experience in store.  He agreed to watch ‘Town of Runners’ on DVD and write a review of the film for us.  Here it is.  Thanks Abrham and nice work.

Town of Runners.

town of runners

Director:  Jerry Rothwell

Run Time:  89 minutes



Town of runners is a documentary about two young girls from a small town in Ethiopia, who dreamt of becoming successful runners. When I first heard about this film I was excited about it because I’m from Ethiopia and the documentary was about  how such a small place produced so many long distance runners (most of them Olympic and World Champions).  This collection of athletes includes Kenenisa Bekele, Derartu Tulu and Tirunesh  Dibaba.

Athletes trained in the town of Bekoji, central Ethiopia have won more gold medals in the last five Olympic games (a total of eight), than Morocco have in eighteen (5 of which were Winter Olympics).  The film shows how much Bekoji is like a factory, producing elite runners non-stop.

The film features two friends and their ambitions of becoming runners.  Hawii (14yrs) youngest of the two girls, a good 800m and 1500m runner and slightly less accomplished Alemii (15yrs).  With help of coach Sentayehu Eshetu, they were heading in the right direction.  They trained hard for the regional youth championship In Asella which was their first big competition.

We get to see the girls training along with many others at a government subsidised training camp just outside of Bekoji, in the region of Ormia.  During this time it becomes clear that the extreme pressure and hard work take their toll on the girls, illustrating what makes these success stories so compelling.  The victories come at a high price and are hard earned.  Each of the runners has a completely different experience.  We see one promising 14-year-old virtually crack up over the uncertainties she faces.  The film offers valuable insight into a now time honoured process.

Dedication from the youngsters

Dedication from the youngsters

The film doesn’t simply focus on how people become great runners however, it’s much more about the place and its people, their lives and how they live.  We come to understand that for girls like Hawii and Alemii there’s very little opportunity outside of running, and that it’s the fact Bekoji offers advantages for those willing to train hard and develop skills that will take them to the top.  Altitude for starters, Bekoji is 10,500 feet above sea level and means runners can become supremely fit from a very early age.  True, they could have shown more of the training session so people knew what their daily routine is like, but the film isn’t so much about the running as the runners themselves, their families and their circumstances.

Personally, I found this film very inspirational and motivating because it shows that no matter what the situation – you can make your dream come true through hard work and commitment.


Abrham Tadesse.

About Houghboy

Running. Films. Films about running. It's all good.
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