Humans of HOKA: Futsum Zienasellassie

HOKA: Please introduce yourself!

Futsum Zienasellassie: My name is Futsum Zienasellassie. I was born in a small village called Dera–located in the Debub region of Eritrea. Our village was about eight miles from a nearby city called Adi Keyh, which is about 55 miles north of the capital city of Asmara.

HOKA: Moving from Eritrea to the US, how did running help you find a sense of community?

Futsum: Running allowed me to find confidence in myself. When you’re confident, you tend to put yourself out there more, to interact with people. And that’s how you find your place in the community.

HOKA: How did your professional running career begin?

Futsum: After graduating from Northern Arizona University in 2016, I had the opportunity to visit multiple professional teams and talk to several companies. Because NAZ Elite was based in Flagstaff, it made things much easier for me.

HOKA: Can you share your experience training with and as a part of the NAZ Elite team?

Futsum: HOKA NAZ Elite is a great fit for me. We have athletes that run everything from the mile to the marathon. For me, to have the opportunity to train with those athletes, it’s a great situation. They make me better.

Futsum with his NAZ Elite teammates Wesley KiptooAlex Masai, and Olin Hacker.

HOKA: Running clearly runs in the family! Your brother was a runner, and now as a parent, how has starting a family impacted your career and goals?

Futsum: The goals have always been the same, though I would say that I’m more present in my training. I value my time more now because I have a busy schedule. I get up, I have to drop the kids off at school, then I train and recover, then I pick the kids up, etc. And it’s impacted my career in a positive way because I want to set an example for my kids. I’m running not only for myself, but for my family.

Futsum and his son on the track.

HOKA: You have some very exciting events ahead of you, and we wish you the best of luck! What does success look like to you?

Futsum: For me, I’ve never been a guy that’s going to say I’m going to do this or that or talk about my goals. I want to go run a race that I can be really proud of. The whole race is a journey–26.2 miles, 42 kilometers. I want to make sure I’m out there running a beautiful race.

HOKA: What are your favorite HOKA picks now, and how are they a part of your training routine?

Futsum: My favorite HOKA shoes are the Clifton 9s. They are my go-to for training and for just hanging around. And for racing, we have a new shoe that I’m excited to have on my feet next Saturday.

Futsum and his NAZ Elite teammates training on their home trails in Flagstaff, Arizona.

HOKA: What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career as a runner?

Futsum: Make sure to make running a lifestyle. Things should become second nature to you. Enjoy the training. There needs to be nothing else you would rather do.


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