Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, will officially flag off the fifth Obudu international mountain race and the first African mountain running championships this weekend at the Obudu Ranch Resort in Obudu, Cross River State.
Disclosing this at the weekend was the media officer for the race, Patrick Ugbe, who is also the chief press secretary to Governor Imoke.
“His Excellency, Senator Liyel Imoke, the executive Governor of Cross River State will once again flag off this yearâ€™s unique, two-in-one race at the Obudu Ranch Resort, venue for the world-acclaimed race. Last year it was His Excellency that flagged off the race and he will do the same thing for this yearâ€™s race which is bigger in terms of the quality of elite athletes that will participate and will be better in terms of its organisationâ€™â€™, reveals Ugbe, a former newshound with the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA.
Governor Imoke will be assisted by the new president of the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), Bruno Gozzelino, President of Confederation of African Athletics (CAA), Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, and Chief Solomon Ogba, the President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). Ugbe also revealed that the loss of Andrea Mayr of Austria, the defending women champion of the Obudu international mountain race will not affect the quality of either the race or the performance.
“If anything, we are expecting a new course record to be set by the women. This year we are having a former World and Olympic champion, Ethiopiaâ€™s Meseret Defar who is undoubtedly the biggest name coming for the race. It is a real plus for us that we are having a woman many have described as one of the best things that has happened to long distance running in the last decade. She was a former IAAF Athlete of the year and a multiple world record holderâ€™â€™, said Ugbe.
Ugbe is however not surprised that the Obudu international mountain race has been attracting world renowned long distance runners who run more on the track than the mountains.
“We have set a standard that many athletes have been proud of and that has been attracting the very best in other disciplines to come to the race. Remember the Obudu international mountain race is the highest paying mountain race in the world, its organisation has been hailed by both the CAA and the WMRA. The IAAF has given us distinction in terms of its organisation.â€™â€™
The Obudu international mountain challenge is a mountain race of 11.2km with a 810m of ascent, up to a height of 1600m above sea level.
Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort,venue for the race is one of the finest tourist destinations in the world. Situated deep in the tropical and mountainous rain
forest of Northern Cross River State;it is noted for its beautiful and enchanting landscape that evokes pleasure and vista.
The ranch is about 35 minutes drive from Obudu town which is about five hours from Calabar, the Cross River State capital.It also has a helipad and a small
airport for access by air.
At the base of the hills on which the ranch is located lies a world_class water park with state_of_art swimming facilities and water slides for children,
teens and adults. The hilltop (cattle ranch) is about 11 km of winded road from the base and can be accessed by either the cable_car or the road.
The race remains the highest paying Mountain Race in the World, with an improved $245,500 prize money on offer and a star prize of $50,000 for both men and