The Great Ethiopian Run 2019: what to expect

July 2019

Join us at the Great Ethiopian Run in November and take part in an event that's as close to a party as any run will ever be – and that's not all you'll get for your fundraising efforts...

The Great Ethiopian Run is a 10k like no other: Africa's biggest road race, a carnival of glitter and support, and the most joyous way to witness all that Addis Ababa – Ethiopia's hectic and colourful capital – has to offer.

This year's event takes place on Sunday 17th November, when over 46,000 people from across the world will assemble at the race's start point, waiting for a line of smiling race officials to unlink their arms and let them run – or walk, or dance. There are no waves, phased starts or clocks to tell you how long it might take you to complete this course: it's just you, your feet, and several thousand others with varying levels of running expertise making their way around the city. Addis Ababa is 10,000ft above sea level and the city is hot, but you don't have to be an expert athlete to take part: this is a run that is truly fun; a collective experience where you will feel the full force of the crowd's enthusiastic support all the way round.

Run for joy

Join us

Orbis has been taking part in the Great Ethiopian Run for 10 years, and our 2019 trip promises to be as spectacular as ever. This year, UK supporters will join teams from the Ireland and Hong Kong offices on a week-long visit from 14th - 21st November.

Visiting Ethiopia and taking part in the run is always an awe-inspiring experience, and if you join us you will also have the opportunity to see first hand the crucial difference Orbis's eye care programmes are making in the region – just like Emma, one of our runners from last year, who shares her experiences in the blog below.

Visiting Ethiopia with Orbis

Join Team Orbis on our 2019 trip to Ethiopia, and this is what you can expect:


We will fly out on an overnight flight from London on Thursday 14th November, arriving in the morning of Friday 15th.

On arrival in Addis Ababa, your welcome reception will include a special breakfast – last year this included a traditional coffee ceremony, the perfect pick-me-up after a long flight, especially when you consider that Ethiopia is widely acknowledged as the birthplace of coffee...

Then you'll head to the eye care unit at Menelik II Hospital, named after a former Emperor of Ethiopia. The Menelik II Hospital is one of Orbis’s key long term partners and home to the Eye Bank of Ethiopia – the only eye bank that doesn't import its corneas.

Day one will end with a traditional Ethiopian dinner, complete with entertainment.


Saturday 16th November is the day of the Children's Great Ethiopian Race, so you can get a little glimpse of what's to come ahead of the main race on Sunday. Soak up the atmosphere and cheer the young runners on, along with most of Addis Ababa.

The afternoon is for sightseeing – and there is lots to see in Addis, a wonderful city of contrasts. As Ethiopia's capital, Addis is an exciting cultural hub that seems to be always on the move, but it also preserves its traditional customs and the many markets are well worth a visit.

You'll also be taken to three of the main tourist attractions: The Ethnographic Museum, The Kidist Selassie Church (or Holy Trinity Cathedral), and Entoto – a mountain peak 30-45 minutes drive from Addis Ababa – home to Menelik II's former palace and a wonderful church museum.

Sightseeing in Addis Ababa and Entoto

Day two will end with the annual Great Ethiopian Race Pasta Party – the most fun you'll ever have whilst carb loading, trust us.


Race day! The moment you've all been training for – although don't worry, people of all ages and abilities take part in the Great Ethiopian Run and the city's enthusiasm powers every runner to the end of the course.

And after the race, it's celebration time...

It's been absolutely amazing, this has been one of the best days of my life.

Participant Rose Brown

Speaking after taking part in the Great Ethiopian Run in 2018


You can choose to fly back to London on Monday 18th November but for those staying for the full week, this is your chance to travel out of Addis and see more of beautiful Ethiopia.

First, you will visit some Orbis rural projects in Gamo Gafa, a zone in the southern region of Ethiopia, and tour the village of Dorze. Take a look at Emma's blog to find out more about what you'll get to see.

Visiting Gamo Gafa


On day five, Tuesday 19th November, you'll have another opportunity to see first hand the impact our work – and your money – is having in the region, by visiting a clinic in a local community and its nearby school.


Your final day in Ethiopia will start with a river cruise on Lake Chamo towards the city of Arba Minch. From there, you'll fly back to Addis Ababa and then on to London, arriving home on Thursday 21st November.

What do you have to do?

To join us on this jam-packed, once-in-a-lifetime trip and experience the indescribable feeling of running in the Great Ethiopian Race, we're asking participants to raise a minimum of £3,500. This INCLUDES all your flights and accommodation.

The precise breakdown is:

  • £1,500 – for all expenses relating to the trip, including international and domestic flights, all accommodation, all breakfasts and dinners, transport in Ethiopia, race entry and some lunches.*
  • £2,000 – this is what we ask you to target for your fundraising efforts. We are always on hand to help you with your fundraising efforts – to start with, you can download our fundraising pack and if you need any advice, please just ask!

* If you plan to return on Monday 18th November rather than join the project visits in southern Ethiopia, please deduct £350 from the expenses.

Sign me up!​

Interested? Wonderful! All you have to do to start the process is fill in this online registration form and we will be in touch.

If you have any questions in the meantime, you can also contact Emma, our Corporate Partnerships Manager (and a former Great Ethiopian Run participant herself...) with any questions.

Phone number: 0207 608 7270