Okpekpe Race gath­ers mo­men­tum

III

Weekly Trust - - Cover - Olu­sola ‘Jide @jide_o­lu­sola

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

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