Okpekpe Race gathers momentum
The 10kiliometer Okpekpe Race hosted by Edo State government in Okpekpe village is no doubt the highest paying race in Nigeria which has continued to attract world-class runners from around the world. The race which starts in Apana Road and ends in Okpekpe was initiated by the former Governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole in 2012 and has garnered international recognition from the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) and the International Association of Athletics Federations whose rules and regulations guide the race.
At the initial stage, there was the dearth of sponsors from the corporate world but the story is different now.
Corporate bodies like Access Bank, Development Bank, Ecobank, Nigerian Breweries Plc, STACO Insurance Plc have thrown their weight behind the first IAAF silver label road race in Nigeria nay West Africa, the Okpekpe international 10km road race.
According to the spokesman for the race, Dare Esan Nigerian Breweries is coming in as a Friend of the Race.
“It is a massive boost for the image of the race to have a pioneer brewing company support an event in which history will be made on May 12, 2018. Remember the race next month is the first ever IAAF silver label road race in Nigeria and West Africa.
”In 2015 we became the first road race in Nigeria to be granted an IAAF label status. This means the Okpekpe race is regarded as one of the world’s leading road running events,” said Esan who explains that a label certifies the global sporting significance of the race, the organisational quality and the compliance with relevant IAAF competition rules.
“Nigerian Breweries have offered a cash support as well as some quantities of their non-alcoholic brand, Amstel Malta for the race. We are delighted to have the first and largest brewing company in Nigeria,a socially responsible corporate organization with a good track record of corporate social initiatives back the first IAAF label road race in Nigeria.
“Nigerian Breweries is a major player in sports sponsorship and promotion in Nigeria and it is to our credit that a company that supports the Nigerian senior football team,the Super Eagles and the historic Nigerian winter Olympics team is also throwing its weight behind another historic event.This is a testimony to the growing popularity of the Okpekpe race.
“It is really heart-warming to have a company that has been very active in supporting the national developmental aspirations of Nigeria identify with a pioneer event as Friend of the race,” said Esan who further revealed that the theme song for the race will soon be released.
In the same vein, two of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, Access Bank and Development Bank who have decided to put their mouth where their money is are also coming in ‘Friends of the Race according to the race’s director of organisation, Zack Amodu
In a statement released on Tuesday in Lagos, he stated that “We are delighted that two of the leading financial institutions in Nigeria have decided to come on board as Friends of the race as we strive to deliver another world-class event come May 12.I am particularly delighted that they have signed on to be part of the history that will be made in Okpekpe when the first ever IAAF silver label road race in Nigeria and West Africa will be staged on Nigerian soil.
“Access bank is not new to sponsorship of road race in Nigeria and we are delighted that a full-service commercial Bank operating through a network of about 305 branches and service outlets located in major centres across Nigeria, Sub Saharan Africa and the United Kingdom has come on board as a friend of the 10km road race. The bank has come to identify with the pacesetting road race that organised the first label road race in Nigeria in 2015.”
“This is unique as Development Bank, Nigeria’s primary development finance institution; promoting growth and sustainability is supporting the first globally recognised road race in Nigeria. This will motivate us to organise a road race worthy of a gold label race on May 12 in Okpekpe,” Amodu promised.
He further revealed that STACO insurance Plc will provide insurance cover for the race.
According to him ‘we have subscribed to a third party liability insurance policy to cover the risks for which we may be held liable, including any accident which might occur to athletes and officials,’ said Amodu, adding that the choice of STACO was based on the company’s track record.
‘This is one of the conditions we have to fulfil before we can stage an IAAF label road race. On our part, we have always subscribed to a third party insurance policy for the race since the inaugural edition in 2013.We understand the importance of insurance in the organisation of a race as big as the Okpekpe 10km event and that is why we have gone for an Insurance company owned by Nigerians, who have distinguished themselves in their various business endeavours and manned by seasoned professionals who have proven integrity in the Nigerian Insurance Industry,’ he said.
The race is seen as a way of promoting distance and endurance related races for Nigerian athletes as well as making the local community of Okpekpe have a first-hand feel of hosting an international event while enjoying some of the economic benefits that could come with it.
Expectations are therefore high that the race which has continued to grow from strength to strength would witness even greater success as organisers have assured that this year’s edition of Okpekpe Race would move to the next level.
Thus, on Saturday, May 12, 2018, the 6th edition of the Okpekpe Road Race will hold and it will have over 3,000 athletes from Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Morocco, Israel, Bahrain, Morocco, and Nigeria. As usual, the road race will start in Apana Road and ends in Okpekpe, Edo State.
According to the organisers, the temperature for the race will be approximately between 25 - 30 Degree Celsius at the start.
At the end of competition, the financial prizes would be given to eight people who come tops in the race and top 5 Nigerian in both the male and female categories.
Organisers of the race have said a total of $112,000 is on offer as prize money to the top eight finishers in the men and women’s elite race with the winner in each gender category going home with $20,000 while $13,000 and $9,000 respectively will go to the second and third-placed finishers.
For Nigerian competitors, the total prize of N1.1m paid out last year has been increased to N4.8m this year with the first placed finishers in both the men and women race going home with N1,000,000 while the second to the fifth-placed finishers will get N600,000, N400,000, N250,000 and N150,000 respectively.
According to the organisers, to qualify for the $20,000 top prize for the elite runners, the athletes must run 28:35.00 minutes or better for the men and 32:41.00 minutes for the women.
For the Nigerian category, the winners must run 29:04.00 minutes or better for men and 34:05.01 minutes for the women’s race.
A total of $112,000 is on offer as prize money to the top eight finishers in the men and women’s elite race with the winner in each gender category going home with $20,000 while $13,000 and $9,000 respectively will go to the second and third-placed finishers The race is seen as a way of promoting distance and endurance related races for Nigerian athletes as well as making the local community of Okpekpe have a first-hand feel of hosting an international event
East Africans leading the running pack at a past edition of the now popular annual Okpekpe Race