It is barely 8 days to the 8th edition of the Lagos City Marathon and organisers say preparations are in top gear to ensure the race is a huge success.
Report says 76 first-class foreign runners from across the world have been invited to compete in the first-ever Gold-Label Marathon which has been confirmed to start at the National Stadium, Lagos on February 4.
So far 2000 athletes have indicated interest to race in the event.
The race director of communications, Dapo Sotuminu, said “The response has been very fantastic; the international registration for the elite athletes had to be stopped more than a week ago because the number was getting much. Already we have about 2,000 registered and have invited 76 foreign runners from across the world from Asia, Oceania, Europe, and the Americas.”
He said that he expects a very exciting edition.
Quest for Platinum Label
Report says at inception the 42km race was a bronze label race and it grew to become one of only two gold label races in Africa. The other is the Okpekpe Mountain Race in Edo state in Southern Nigeria.
The goal for the organisers according to Mr. Sotuminu is to improve the 42km race to the Platinum label and also achieve a gold label status for the 10km race.
He said, “We will be using this gold label race to gun for the platinum label which makes it very interesting. We are also looking at having 2 gold-label races in one event. We are also planning to make the 10km race a gold-label one.
“For the first time, we are going to see more elite runners competing in the 10km race. It is not only for Nigerian runners as we used to have it in the past, this time it is going to have an international flavor which will enable the foreign runners to also run in the 10km. This is one of the criteria to make it a gold label. So we are going for it full on”, Mr. Sotuminu continued.
“We have also added a number of pacers for the 42km race. We are trying to get 2 runners that will finish in 2 hours 10 minutes for men and 2 hours 14 minutes for the women then it will be easy for the application of the platinum race,” he added.
Global World Race Conference
Meanwhile, for the first time since the beginning of the race, the marathon will be boosted by the presence of the World Athletics head of road running, Alessio Punzi.
The Marketing manager of Nilayo Sports management, organisers of the race, Chidinma Eziuka, revealed a special guest is “coming from the World Athletics, the head of road running, Alessio Punzi. He is coming to experience the race with us and also has the intention of bringing the global world race conference to Nigeria in 2024. He is coming to discuss it with the authorities of the potential host, Lagos. He wants Lagos to host the next edition.”
This Time for Nigeria
Meanwhile, no Nigerian has ever finished on the podium at the Lagos Marathon but Ms. Eziuka is hopeful that will change this year.
She said “shockingly a lot of Nigerian runners participate in big races even outside Nigeria like the London and Berlin marathons. We might not be pushing out the Nigerians because they have not been coming first, second or third but we have premium Nigerian runners participate in our marathons.”
“Even outside the country they win medals and bring it back home but here in this race we have the Kenyans and the Ethiopians winning our races and we are hopeful that our own will take these positions and prize money this year”, she concluded.
To boost participation in the race, organisers have reverted to the pre-Covid prize money for winners with the first place in the 42km race going away with 50, 000 US Dollars as against the 30, 000 US Dollars from the last edition.
The first Nigerian to cross the finish line will get 1 million Naira as well as the winner of the 10km race.
Meanwhile, in preparation for the first-ever Gold-Label race in Nigeria, the Expo for the Lagos City Marathon is open until 4th February, at the Teslim Balogun, Surulere where runners are expected to pick up their running kits and numbers.
There are also a series of exhibitions towards the success of the Gold-Label race as well as health talks and several other events geared towards the successful organisation of the race.
The start line for the Gold-Label Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has been slated for the National Stadium, Surulere, for the full Marathon and end at the Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island, while the 10km race will start from the Lekki- Ikoyi link bring to end at the Eko Atlantic City.
Source: Voice of Nigeria