The son of a farmer, Tadesse grew up in a small village in Eritrea. He started running in 1998 when his bicycle broke. Five years later, he competed in his first international event – the 2003 World Cross Country Championships. A Swiss citizen since 2014, he is the country’s fastest ever marathon man.
Tadesse set the Swiss Marathon record on home soil (or rather asphalt) at the 2022 Zurich Marathon, winning the race in 2:06:38. The result knocked two seconds off Tadesse’s previous record of 2:06:40, which he set in Seoul, South Korea, some six years earlier. With the new record set less than six months before his 40th birthday, Tadesse shows no signs of slowing down.
Tadesse – why running, and how did you get started?
I used to be a cyclist. Becoming a professional cyclist was my dream when I was a kid. But when I had an accident during training and my bike broke, I had to go to school by foot – so I started running.
When you don’t feel like training, what inspires you to get out there?
I think about all the other athletes who get up nevertheless and do their training session. That motivates me to get up, because I’ll see them in the next race – and I don’t want to lose.
Can you tell us about a race you’d like to relive?
Sport brings people together. It’s all about emotions – good and bad. While it’s a privilege to be an athlete, it can also be a burden. But I still love it every single day. During the marathon at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, I obtained an Olympic diploma for finishing seventh. I also won the half-marathon gold medal at the European Championships in 2016. I’d like to relive either of those!
Is nutrition a big focus? What’s your go-to meal after a tough run?
Nutrition is an important aspect of any athlete’s program and part of my everyday routine. After a hard training session, I love to eat pasta.
What are your top tips for a speedy recovery after training?
Eat and sleep.
Who is your ‘team’?
My family; Team Tade (Flavio, Marco, Urs, Karin and Lisa); LC Uster; my fan club; and now the On family, too!
Apart from running, what are your passions?
Cycling and spending time with my family and friends. I love cycling and ride my bike after a marathon as part of my recovery. Going for a ride with my friends is ideal!
What’s your favorite On gear?
Finally, why On? We’re both Swiss and we both like to compete internationally. Then I had the chance to meet Olivier (Bernhard, On co-founder). He’s an athlete like me, and we share the same passions and values. I’m very proud to become an athlete and ambassador for On.
Zurich Marathon image credit: @athle.ch and @simonalmers