Great Ethiopian 10K Run for RunBalmoral winner, Robbie Simpson - 30 November 2012
"An amazing trip." That's how Robbie Simpson summed up his visit to Africa to represent RunBalmoral in the Great Ethiopian 10K Run
The 21 year-old Great Britain mountain running international, from Banchory, is still coming back down to earth after being invited to a party at the palatial home of distance running legend Haile Gebreselassie.
Robbie travelled to Africa with fellow Scotland international Morgan Windram-Geddes (Fife AC).
They earned the exciting trip after winning the men’s and women’s titles in the Petrofac 15 mile trail run at the Balmoral road races in April.
Balmoral organisers and sponsors offered this amazing prize to the top man and woman as a means of providing Scottish athletes with the chance to experience top class competition overseas.
Robbie and Morgan both competed in the Great Ethiopian 10K run, along with 35,000 others, in Addis Ababa.
The high altitude, 8,000ft above sea level, made conditions exceptionally hard for the Scots, but Robbie did well to record a time of just under 35 minutes.
Morgan clocked 41 mins despite not having been able to run much over the previous two months because of injury.
Robbie said: "The trip was amazing and the race went quite well.
It was never going to be quick, but I got slowed down massively after 600m when hundreds of fun runners lining the route jumped in on front of us and started walking.
"I had to slow down and fight my way through. After that it was good and I gradually moved through the field.
"I think I was first non-African but not exactly sure. I managed to finish ahead of some top Americans."
Gebreselassie is one of the founders of the race and he supports it every year.
He is a legend in Ethiopia because of his incredible achievements which include winning two Olympic and four world 10,000m titles, four world indoor gold medals and setting 27 world records.
Robbie was delighted to get the chance to meet the great athlete.
He said: "After the race we were invited back to Haile's house for a party. Its an amazing place, about four storeys high.
"One floor is devoted to all his trophies and medals. They were numbered and I think there were at least 3,000 items.
"I had the chance to speak with him for a short while but it was difficult because so many people wanted to talk.
"I think there were about 50 people at his house. I even had time to go for a short run in the grounds just to explore it.
"It was certainly a very interesting trip and very much worth going.”