Race Re­port

Hot, hu­mid, friendly – and unique.

Runner's World South Africa - - Contents - RACE RE­PORT BY WAR­REN KING

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.

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