PHOENIX- “So what do you do for fun?” I ask.
Aron Orar’s eyes look down to the left at the ground beside him. He thinks for a couple seconds before picking his head up and responding.
“I would say mostly, mostly I run.” Orar says through a smile.
Orar is a senior at Central High School and an accomplished distance runner. At the start of the year he placed 10th in the Rock n Roll marathon with a time of two hours, 40 minutes. He was the youngest to place in the top 20 and the fifth fastest Arizonan.
He used to be enrolled in the English as a Second Language at Central but signed out as to allow him to graduate at the end of this school year.
Orar was born in Eritrea but migrated to Ethiopia when he was two years old to live with his grandparents. In Ethiopia his grandparents lived in a village where they kept a small farm with cows and corn. In 2011 Orar and part of his family immigrated to Phoenix after waiting two years for their papers to be processed.
Due to the Jan. 1 birthday given to him by the State Department he is not eligible to run this school year as he would have been 19 at the start. This is even though it is believed his birthday was somewhere in October.
Orar’s day usually starts with a morning run of seven or eight miles around 6 a.m., then he goes to school. After school then he will usually run another three or four miles, even in peak Phoenix weather. On Saturday he’ll stretch his legs on a 15 mile run, finally resting on Sunday. Sunday is the day to catch up on sleep, homework and to watch some history documentaries.
In his first meet as a cross-country athlete, nobody told Orar the rules, so he made his own.
“I thought we could run everywhere like it was soccer, and then I did that and they said ‘Don’t do that again because you will get disqualified,” Orar said.
Orar has a distinct running style with a prominent leg kick that brings his foot close to his butt. This leads to him getting dirty if the course is muddy, but Orar sees it as an advantage.
“Whenever I kick my butt I feel like I’m wasting less energy than the people around me.” Orar said.
“That back foot? It’s going up to his butt every time. You see the group run through the mud and there’s this streak of mud, that’s him.” Said Central High School Track and cross-country coach Paul Bonnett
Although Orar is an accomplished athlete he doesn’t let it get to his head. His teachers and coaches all remark on Orar’s character.
“He’s calm. He steps back. He looks at things…He’s just a good kid. I don’t know how to explain it, you know they say sometimes angel wear different faces and there are many that I see here. He’s just one of those kids, you trust the kid, you don’t have to worry about the kid, he just has it together. He always has.” Said Erica Earl, department chair of ESL at Central.
Currently Orar has a full scholarship to Central Arizona College but after that the plan is to go to Northern Arizona University, partially for the altitude training. After college he has high aspirations for himself, wanting to be an Olympic runner representing Ethiopia.