German runner Samuel Fitwi is a new addition to Team On. His path to becoming an elite athlete has been anything but straightforward.
“Running has turned my life on its head,” the 27-year-old said.
Samuel Fitwi was born in Eritrea. Ten years ago, aged 17, he fled the country, looking for freedom and a better life. After a months-long perilous journey that had him and a group of other teenage refugees cross Sudan, Libya, and the Mediterranean Sea, he eventually arrived in Germany.
“The journey was hard and dangerous; I’m lucky to have made it safe and sane,” Fitwi said. “I lived in a refugee camp and then moved to the Eifel region [around 70 km (43 miles) north of Trier], where I still live today. The first months were incredibly hard, a foreign language and not understanding anything. But after about a year, things got easier for me, as I was able to hold normal conversations.”
He eventually found a home with a German family, and his talent for running was discovered by chance in the gym class of his local high school.
“We did the so-called ‘Cooper Test’ to see how far you can run in 12 minutes. I ran almost four kilometers (2.49 miles), and my teacher immediately suggested I sign up to the local run club. I was so surprised. Back in Eritrea, the only thing that could get me to run were hyenas!”
From then on, Fitwi’s running career developed in leaps and bounds: from running 1,000 meters in two minutes and fifty seconds as a complete beginner, racing as part of his local running club’s track team a year later to an impressive collection of achievements today. Seven years after finding out that he has an immense talent for running, Fitwi is the reining 5K German road running record holder (13:33 minutes) and a three-time German Cross Country champion. He also claimed a ninth rank in the 10,000 m event at the European Championships in Munich in 2022.
Over the years, the 27-year-old has worked his way up the disciplines, moving from middle distances to 10,000 m races and the half-marathon. Going forward, Fitwi has his sights set on the marathon distance. He ran his first marathon in Seville earlier this year and set a solid debut time of 2:12:14. To reach his goal and compete for Germany at the Olympic Games in 2024, Fitwi will have to shave off at least another four minutes.
“I have been able to break into the elite of German long-distance runners in a relatively short time. Now, I would like to work on my weaknesses and build on my strengths to keep improving my personal best. Participating in the Olympic Games in the marathon is still my big goal, and I hope to continue to improve also thanks to the cooperation with On,” Fitwi said. “The design and quality of the products are exceptional. Also, the On team spirit, which I was able to experience in the first weeks of the partnership in St. Moritz, as well as the holistic athlete support, are unique. I am very much looking forward to the future together with the entire On team.”
Next up: tackling a big milestone on home turf. Fitwi will try to run the German Olympic Marathon standard at the Berlin Marathon.
Watch Samuel Fitwi’s “Outrun your Echo” film here: