Foreign, local athletes chase over N40m at Okpekpe Race
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