Ethiopian and Kenyan long distance runners together with their Nigerian counterparts are set to compete in the maiden Okpekpe road race, which takes off this morning in Okpekpe, Edo State.
The 10km race is parading a strong field of East Africa runners who will be vying for the 50,000 dollars total prize money on offer. These athletes include Deriba Merga, Tilahum Regassa, Abere Chane Lema, Sofia Shemsu and Salam Abere Alebachew from Ethiopia, while Moses Masai, Yusuf Biwott, Fredrick Kipchumba, Betty Chepleting and Georgia Rono from Kenya.
Some of these athletes have made their mark in the world marathon circuit and they are expect to fuel the rivalry between the two nations that have dominated world long distance running over the years.
Local athletes are not left out. A team of Nigerian long distance runners have been in camp in Afuze, Edo State preparing to give the visiting elite athletes a fight and according to incumbent president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Solomon Ogba the Okpekpe road race will help reignite athletics in Nigeria and also open up the serene Okpekpe town the highest point in Edo State to the world.
“We are excited by the AFN to organize the first road race in this part of the world. For me we have no apologies as some people say we want to showcase the road to Okpekpe is beautiful. We actually want to show there is life in rural Nigeria.
Edo State governor, Adams Oshomole and other top dignities are expected to grace the event.