Nigeria: In just four years, Access Bank Lagos City Marathon gets international certification
By Taiwo Adelu
London, Nov. 30, 2019 (AltAfrica) – The 2020 edition of Access Bank Lagos City Marathon won’t just be about mass participation, but quality runners are expected to take part in the event scheduled for 8 February.
This is because the four year-old Lagos City Marathon has just been fully certified with a Silver Label status by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), the first to be given to a marathon event within four years of existence in the world
The 2020 edition, the first after the certification will attract between 45,000 to 48,000 runners across the world among whom is Zhu Xiaolin, a female Chinese long-distance runner, who specialises in marathons. Other expected athletes include 35 Gold Label runners and 42 Silver Label marathoners.
Already, many of the runners are expected to arrive Lagos, Nigeria on 8 February, 2020.
CEO of Nilayo Sports Management Limited, Mr. Bukola Olopade revealed the participation of Chinese Xiaolin, whose personal best over the distance is 2 hours and 23:57 minutes.
She has won several races which included the Xiamen International Marathon and was third at the 2010 Rotterdam Marathon. She represented China at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was fourth in the women’s marathon. Zhu has also competed at the World Championships in Athletics, where she finished in the top five in the marathon in both 2007 and 2009.
Olopade informed that apart from raising the profile of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, participation of these quality runners would also add good marketing and commercial values to the 42km race, which is expected to lockdown Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world come 8 February.
“This is the reason the IAAF is given us a respected recognition that after Tokyo Marathon, Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is the only marathon event in the world where roads are closed throughout the duration of the race. We have to thank Lagos State Government for giving us this opportunity because if not for the active involvement of the government and all relevant agencies in this, we would not have achieved this. Even the ever busy 3rd Lagos Mainland Bridge, which is difficult to close, has always been lockdown for this event in the past four editions,” said former Olympian, Yusuf Alli, who is the General Manager of the race.
Alii said that the 5th Access Bank Lagos City Marathon will be unique because it won’t be about mass participation. “We have a record entry of 104, 460 runners for the 2019 edition, in the 2020 edition, however, we won’t target just this number, but the quality of runners who will participate will be our concerns now.
“We have sent the list of invited elite runners to the IAAF, which has since conducted its integrity test on them. I am happy to say that since we started this event, we have not recorded any case of drug issue. This has been a plus for us with the IAAF,” Alli said.
He revealed that apart from the usual prize monies, the organisers have a packaged performance based incentives of $30,000 and $20,000 for men and women runners respectively. These incentives are some of the newly introduced innovations for the Silver Label status competition.
To the host of the race, the Lagos State Government, the event can hold even now. The Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr. Sola Aiyepekun reiterated the support the Government of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has for the competition, an event which has manifold blessings and benefits that come with it.
“Lagos will always be opened and receptive to event of this nature, a reason we are going to give it our all. As usual, we will be there with all our support services and create the right environments for its success,” Aiyepekun assured.
Alternativeafrica.com reports that the Lagos State Government has already purchased 30,000 registrations forms to be given to the people of the state for free as part of its mobilisation for the event. So also the titled sponsor, Access Bank Plc, which has purchased 10,000, forms for its existing and new account holders for them to be part of the race.
Ameachi Okobi, Head, Communications & External Affairs at Access Bank Plc said that the marathon race has become a phenomenon which all Nigeria must support.”This race has become a fixture in the annual calendar of runners across the world and it has helped us push health and awareness of good health among our people.
Alternativeafrica.com reports that on 8 February, it will be a twin event in one, while the 42km race is opened to runners across the world, another 10km race which was specifically designed for the runners within Nigeria will also take place with prize monies for both races remain the same.
For the 10km race, winner will go home with a brand new Kia car and the sum of N1 million with the second and third positions winning N500, 000 and N250, 000 respectively. For the first Nigerian male and female to cross the finish line in the 42km race, they will pocket the sum of N3 million each with the second, third, fourth and fifth positions winning N2 million, N1 million, N500, 000 and N200, 000 respectively.
There is also race for the physically challenged which star prize attracts N1 million, while second and third positions get N750, 000 and N500, 000 respectively.
The elite athletes in the 42km race will have winners in this category (men and women) winning 50,000 USD, while second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth positions will pocket the sum of $40,000, $30,000, $20,000, $15,000 and $10,000 respectively.