Haftom Welday’s life story before his running career already makes impressive (partly ambivalent) reading: at the age of 24, Haftom fled from the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia to Germany. Initially he lived in Pattensen near Hanover, where he also started running intensively. In 2021, he moved to Hamburg with his wife and three children and was naturalised here just under a year later.
He completed his first marathon in 2021 – at the age of 31 – in Berlin in a respectable 2:13:47 hours, and one year later he set a personal best of 2:09:06 hours in the same place, finishing 11th overall and was also the best German. In his third marathon, the Haspa Marathon Hamburg, Haftom wanted to show “what he can do” in front of his home crowd in Hamburg on 24 April, but had to pay tribute to the fast pace of the leading group in the final section and let go. In the end, he finished in a half-disappointing, half-satisfactory eighth place after 2:09:40 hours.
Haftom has been a member of the DLV national squad since November 2022. He was recently nominated for the marathon at the World Championships in Budapest and should not disappoint anyone here. As the best German he finished 15th after 2:11:25 hours, in only his fourth marathon competition ever.
In the MHV short interview Haftom gives a retrospective and outlook on the last and coming months of his marathon career:
MHV: What do you remember about the Haspa Marathon Hamburg 2023?
Haftom: Hamburg was very tough. I started the race very fast, went along in front for a long time. In the end I had to pay the price for the extreme initial pace and the heat and had to let go. I tested my limits in Hamburg. That was an important experience.
To what extent did this influence your strategy for your start at the World Championships Marathon?
Hamburg showed me my weaknesses. I learned from it and changed my training a bit in preparation for the World Championships in Budapest, especially doing more long endurance runs. That paid off in Budapest.
With whom did you coordinate your race strategy and training before the World Championships?
Besides my coach Getamesay Mokka Dana, Tadu Abate, the winner of the Haspa Hamburg Marathon 2019, advised me. I owe him a lot – Tadu is my teacher!
How much did it inspire you to also run for the colours black-red-gold?
It has long been my dream to compete for Germany. This dream came true in Budapest. I was very moved and proud to be part of the German team.
The Olympics in Paris was and is your declared goal. Will you compete in another marathon on the way there?
My next stop is the Valencia Marathon at the beginning of December. There I will try to reach the Olympic standard. I’m now in Hamburg for a few weeks with my family and then I’m going back to Ethiopia to prepare at altitude. I am very, very confident that I can break the Olympic standard in Valencia. In Paris 2024, I will raise the bar a bit again. My goal is to do better there than at the World Championships in Budapest…
Thank you very much, all the best and see you soon!