Hot, humid, friendly – and unique.
Heat & dust: Lagos City Marathon
to visit Nigeria. There’s something intriguing about Africa’s most populous country and secondlargest economy. So when my trail buddies Nicky and Jason told me that thanks to work they were relocating to Lagos – one of the world’s biggest and wildest mega-cities – I booked my flight before they’d even had a chance to explore their new running routes.
Initially, Lagos didn’t sound like the best place to run. Despite its well-deserved reputation for hospitality and friendliness, the city is hot, humid, blanketed in eyewatering pollution, and choked with traffic that obeys no rules and follows no discernible order. Add to that an almost complete lack of infrastructure maintenance, and the absence of city services such as rubbish collection and sewer repair. So during my visit, I intended to run no further than 5km.
But a week after my flight tickets had been confirmed, I received a message from Nicky: “Coincidentally, the Lagos City Marathon is happening at the same time you’re here. Fancy it?”
Nicky had dangled a veritable carrot on a stick. So, fast-forward past a few road runs (we trail runners generally only like crossing roads, not running on them), and a few (not enough) mid-summer, midday training sessions, and there I was: one of the participants standing at the pre-dawn start of said marathon.
Why it’s unique
The race’s business model is fascinating. For a start, there’s no entry fee, or any limit to the number of people who can enter. This was the second time the event has been held, and the race organisers’ objective is for it to become one of the biggest city marathons in the world. In its first year, the event allegedly attracted 35 000 participants – and the online advertising I’d seen stated that 50 000 were expected this year.
The coolest 7km of the course – the awesome Third Mainland Bridge. Inset: the landmark Lekki Bridge.