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Tolassa Elemaa crosses the finish line of a race in Dallas

Elite athlete—and refugee—completes his first New York City Marathon

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Tolassa Elemaa, 37, was training to be a world class runner in Ethiopia when his career was cut short as a result of political persecution. 

After five years in prison for speaking out against his government, Tolassa was able to flee the country. The United States welcomed him as a refugee, and last year he was resettled by the International Rescue Committee in Dallas.

There, Tolassa joined a local running club and was able to continue his training. His passion, hard work and endurance—despite everything he's been through—have paid off: Less than a year after arriving in the U.S., Tolassa has completed the globally prestigious TCS New York City Marathon.


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