A Tale of Running: The Great Ethiopian Run

Yesterday Nico took me for the strangest walk I’ve ever been on. He usually takes me to the mountains, and I chase birds through the brush. Sometimes he leads me across glaciers, and sometimes we run over desert sandstone. Sometimes he takes me into the jungle and hairy, human-like monkeys try to pee on me. Once, he even took me to the White House to meet President Bar’k Dogbama, but yesterday was completely different from anything we’ve ever done or seen.

We woke up early, just the way I like it. After my breakfast of rice and ground beef, we walked to the center of the city. On Meskel Square, some 30,000 humans had formed a massive crowd, and for some reason they all wore the same yellow and green shirts. Becuase I was the only canine at the gathering, they took hundreds of photos of me. Needless to say, I was getting nervous.

Suddenly, Nico picked me up, stuffed me into his backpack, and in a moment’s notice he started walking. I sat there and watched. Unrelenting, frenzied people kept running by us left and right. As far as I could see, thousands were all moving in the same direction, yelling, singing and smiling.

The running-people constantly reached towards me, touching my head and saying things like “wushi wushi”. At one point, I looked up and a guy on stilts wearing a sparkling, purple suite smiled at me. Runners were weaving through his stilts, but I was still trapped in the backpack. I wanted out, I decided, and started wiggling my way up.

The crowd gradually thinned out. Nico pulled me out of the backpack. We started to run. It reminded me of a movie I saw when I was a pup, Dogzilla. Something seemed to be chasing these humans… or were the humans chasing something. I  imagined a juicy rabbit running for its life, but all I could smell was human sweat and injera.

Arbitrarily, we turned left at the National Theatre. I decided we better move through the crowd to find out what we were chasing. And we kept running. Nico shouted encouraging words the whole time. “Essssse Mino, venga Mino, vaaaaamos dale Chorizo…. Ayzoooooh” and his renowned call “uuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhweeeeeeeeeee”.

The running seemed to continue forever. There were Ethiopians on all sides of the path, screaming and pointing at me as I ran by. Some had hoses and sprayed me with water. The fanatical runners themselves were very friendly and encouraging. In an instant, there were more than 20 Ethiopians behind me, barking like dogs, albeit in Amharic. They did all they could to communicate with me and let me know that they supported my kind in the Great Ethiopian Run. Even the great Haile Gebrselassie waved at me. I knew it was good ole’ Gabe because I can smell greatness.

Many of the running bipeds were surprised by my four-leggedness. When we passed them in the street, they’d jump left and right. They’d let out a slight yelp and then laugh it off, and continue to run in the same direction as before.

One particular Ethiopian stayed by my side for at least half of the run. He didn’t have an official t-shirt like the rest. He was maybe 12 years old and never drank any water. But he wasn’t going to let a dog outrun him. If nothing else, Ethiopians are proud, and they don’t mess around when it comes to long-distance running.

When we passed the slaughter house, I caught a strong whiff of goat and sheep meat, and in vain I tried to steer Nico to the fresh meatiness.  Then suddenly the runners started to chant “we want cheaper meat, meat is for everyone”. They were reading my mind. This city is full of meat, but so many people can’t afford to eat it. Thank the Ethiopian Orthodox God they don’t eat dogs.

By the time we got to Meskel Flower street, I was exhausted. Nico stopped running, so we walked for a while. Throughout the crowds, we saw live music and people dancing, as well as drunken onlookers toasting the nutty runners that streamed towards the indiscernible goal.

My tongue was practically dragging on the ground when we turned onto Bole road, there was a sudden positive energetic surge infecting all these runners. I felt we were approaching some kind of paradise where humans live in spiritual commune and mutually help each other and accept dogs as equals. I thought this may be the end to worldwide competition, because by then the runners had stopped trying to pass each other.

Suddenly we were back in Meskel Square, and the runners were walking around with medals adorning their necks. When we ran under the big clock, I noticed it read: 1:24:49. I didn’t even have time to calculate what that meant in doggy time when somebody fastened a medal around my neck and patted me on the head.

The running had finally come to an end, and there was no rabbit, no paradise, no angels. All I had to show for the effort was a heavy piece of metal weighing my tired body. I climbed onto Nico’s lap and dreamed of the mountains.

  • Gize

    Nico, the chilean, Mino was wonderful.

  • Moni

    Minoooooo…. estás hecho para grandes cosas!!
    Te felicito por este nuevo logro 🙂
    La foto con tu medalla es maravillosa… Podría asegurar que veo orgullo en tu mirada.
    Espero nos veamos pronto. Mientras, cuida al loco de tu padre.

  • Juri

    I think Mino deserves a steak for this one. A big one.

  • Scott

    Mino, I am pleased that you did not run away from Nico. He would have a lonely run in the Great Ethiopian Race and in life without you. Take care of the medal and say hi to Nico.

  • Wow! what a race! Dexter DOES have a lot to live up to with this post.
    #1 the writing ability of mino is incredible especially because he doesn’t have thumbs and #2 I don’t think dexter could run that far or fast. I won’t show it to him because it would only make him jealous of mino.

    Mino – you DO deserve a steak!

  • PanchoPOliche

    BUena carrera broo me alegro que esten muy bien, dale mis saludos a minouu chee se le quiere Paz:D

  • Meron


    This is one of the best story I’ve ever read!! Mino is sure inspiring;)

  • Grandma

    Grand-dog Mino I could not be any prouder of you! You were the star of the race and I know where those fantastic genes come from! Keep up the good work…..your writing lessons are obviously paying off, and who knows with that kind of time you are bound to get to the doglympics! Take care of Nico and keep him out of trouble!
    Love you!

  • Annie the Beagle (my mom is Mackenzie)


    Thanks for sharing your story with my mom so she could tell me about your Great Race. My mommy said you were so brave for making it through. When I go on long walks with my dad, my tongue also has to be picked up from the ground. So I kind of know what it feels like to be ‘run’ down. I agree with your Grandma, keep Nico out of trouble.

    Your friend,

  • Javier

    wena cumpa este mino se tiene que venir a la Patagonia che a vivir a Coyhaike. bless

  • Aunt Helen Pratthhpratt2000

    Dear Mino I too, am glad you made it safe. Everyone would be very sad if you ever get lost on such an outing.
    You and Nico are the greatest pair. You two take care of each other, Etheopia seems frightning to me and with all those people running you
    would be brave to try to get out of the back pack.

    I cant wait until your next adventure.
    Love Helen xxoo

  • mikey p

    mino rules! mino you’d better have another adventure, that runnin you did wares me out just reading about it! You and nico be safe and untill then have a good time!


  • O-Town hippie

    running is only enjoyed when with a dog…espically if it is in a city…go get lost my good friend, it is good for the soul! PoV

  • O-Town hippie

    ps, have you found the ark of the convenant yet?

  • Cowpat

    Great race Mino, lucky you’re small enought to fit in Nico’s backpack to accompany him on your adventures. So when’s the children’s book Mino’s adventures coming out?


  • Wow! como disfrute leer esta historia, pense en mi Gargamelito y en lo que el piensa cuando lo saco a correr o cuando yo me canso y el le quiere seguir…. Ese Mino se codeo con Haile Gebrselassie, toda una leyenda en el mundo del atletismo!!! Venga Mino! Estas invitado a mi primera carrera de noche: http://www.diadelosmuertosrun.com

    besitos y aqui te espero!

  • yemi

    hilarious!! Mino rocks

  • Looking forward to more articles by Mino 🙂 Great read