For­eign, lo­cal ath­letes chase over N40m at Okpekpe Race

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Weekly Trust - - Cover - Olu­sola ‘Jide

T@jide_o­lu­sola he 6th edi­tion of the Okpekpe Road Race which holds this morn­ing will play host to over 3,000 in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal ath­letes who have reg­is­tered to com­pete for the whop­ping N40,432,000 prize money

Like in pre­vi­ous edi­tions, renowned run­ners from Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Morocco, Is­rael, Bahrain, Morocco, and Nige­ria are billed to com­pete in the race which starts in Apana Road and ends in Okpekpe, Edo State.

Ac­cord­ing to state­ment re­leased by the race’s direc­tor of or­gan­i­sa­tion, Zack Amodu, this IAAF sil­ver la­bel 10km road race be­gan the ac­cred­i­ta­tion of run­ners on Thurs­day and ended on Fri­day (yes­ter­day).

It was gath­ered that in­ter­na­tional ath­letes, Si­mon Che­p­rot of Kenya and Polline Nwa­jiku who won the 2016 Okpekpe race in the men and women cat­e­gories re­spec­tively are ar­rived the coun­try on Thurs­day.

As at the time of fill­ing this re­port, Diana Kipyo­gei of Kenya who won both the Adana Half Marathon in Turkey in Jan­u­ary and the Guadala­jara Half Marathon in Fe­bru­ary was be­ing ex­pected, same as Ethiopia’s Jima Bekele Reta.

It will be noted that Reta holds the un­of­fi­cial sec­ond fastest time over the dis­tance in his­tory.’

Or­gan­is­ers also said San­drafe­lis Che­bet Tuei of Kenya, the fastest woman over the women’s 10km so far this year had in­dicted readi­ness to com­pete.

‘We are ex­pect­ing a very ex­plo­sive race and a new course record for both the men and women race as we have a very qual­ity elite field,’ said Amodu.

Dur­ing the countdown to the race dur­ing the week, the head of Okpekpe Road Race sec­re­tariat, Mercy Etukudo said Tuei, a Kenyan, will jet in with her com­pa­triot, Mary Mu­nanu, who is the fourth fastest woman over the dis­tance this year cour­tesy the 31:34 she ran last Jan­u­ary to come third in the Va­len­cia 10km road race.

Mean­while, it was gath­ered that Ethiopia’s Amede­work Walelegn, third best-ranked man in the 10km race so far this year, as well as 2016 men and women winners, Si­mon Che­p­rot of Kenya and Buzunesh Gudeta Ge­tachew of Ethiopia re­spec­tively have hit town and are set to com­pete for the top prize.

Also, Josphat Kiprono Menjo, the man who holds the fourth fastest time in his­tory of the 10km (27:04) and his Kenyan com­pa­triot, Ronoh Ti­mothy Ki­pla­gat, who has bro­ken 28 min­utes (27:52) over the dis­tance this year are in the coun­try for the race as well.

It was gath­ered that the ath­letes ar­rived through the Mur­tala Mo­hammed Air­port Lagos and were im­me­di­ately trans­ported to Auchi led by the elite ath­letes man­ager, for­mer Nige­ria 400m hur­dles cham­pion and reign­ing record holder at 48.50 sec­onds, Henry Amike.

Mean­while, while all eyes are fo­cused on the Okpekpe race as the 46th IAAF la­bel road race to be held this year fol­low­ing the stag­ing of the IAAF Gold La­bel Volk­swa­gen Prague Marathon in Praha, Czech Re­pub­lic last Sun­day, the run­ners fo­cused on the money.

In the new out­lay, 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 the lo­cal ath­letes, the to­tal prize money 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-place 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.

Satur­day’s Okpekpe race is the only IAAF sil­ver la­bel 10km road race for the first half of 2018 and will be live on Satel­lite (Su­per­sports) and Ter­res­trial (Africa In­de­pen­dent Tele­vi­sion, AIT) tele­vi­sion.

It is the first and only road race in Nige­ria that has been granted full mem­ber­ship of As­so­ci­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Marathons and Dis­tance Races (AIMS) and recog­nised as one of the pres­ti­gious road races in the world and the only race with an IAAF sil­ver la­bel sta­tus in West Africa.

Ath­letes tak­ing off at one of the pre­vi­ous edi­tions of the IAAF recog­nised Okpekpe 10km Race in Edo State

Gov­er­nor of Edo State, God­win Obaseki (L) pre­sent­ing tro­phy to a par­tic­i­pant in a past edi­tion of the Okpekpe Race

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