March 6, 2023
At the end of those two months, I interviewed (two Ethiopian female runners) each of them for an hour and a half and hired a translator. What came out of those interviews was that this was a richly complicated and complex world that I knew very little about and I had barely scratched the surface. They were talking about the relationships with their family members because I had assumed – as a lot of people do – Ethiopia has this rich history of running, therefore, it must be such a prideful thing. It actually turned out that they all said that all their family members disapproved of what they were doing. There were all these things that came up that surprised me. As I later came to learn in anthropology in grad school, you should always follow and ask questions about the things that surprise you because those are the most interesting things.”
Hannah Borenstein is a good friend of mine who I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know as a member of The Magic Boost program that I help direct. She is an anthropologist and fellow at the University of Chicago. She’s currently working on a book project focusing on women distance runners in Ethiopia. Beyond her academic work, she’s also a freelance writer covering race, sports, gender, politics and labor across a variety of publications.
She most recently published a story for World Athletics on Sinta Vissa, the Italian middle distance runner who was born in Ethiopia and now runs for the On Athletics Club. I’ve wanted to get her on the show for a while because she’s passionate about telling the stories of Ethiopian athletes and has been a major resource for me in helping me understand some of the contexts around the athletes, their lives and when politics can intersect with it all.
More recommended reads from Hannah:
“Raleigh Distance Project: Angling the Pursuit” via Tracksmith
“Aregawi – Fast Times on the Track, but Slow and Steady Approach Off It” via World Athletics
“Gotytom Gebreslase is the Fastest Runner You’ve Never Heard Of” via Women’s Running
“How a New York City Marathon Win 10 Years Ago Transformed Firehiwot Dado’s Life” via Women’s Running
You can now listen to our conversation on The CITIUS MAG Podcast. Catch the latest episode of the podcast on Apple Podcasts. We are also on Stitcher, Google Play and Spotify.
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Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.