By Ben Efe
Once again, Lagos City will grace a marathon race; this is coming seven years after the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, marathoners and keep fit enthusiasts were left high and dry by the sponsors of the Lagos international half marathon.
However, in announcing the rebirth of the Lagos Marathon, top officials of Access Bank of Nigeria have promised that this will not be a one off thing, as the event will endure for as long as they have the financial muscle to keep it going.
This was music to the ears of AFN president, Solomon Ogba and Lagos government represented by Deji Tinubu who is the Lagos State governor’s special adviser on sports and also chairman of the Lagos State sports council.
Speaking on the forth coming event, Mr. Tinubu stated that the Access Bank/ Lagos City Marathon promises to be the best in Africa and could also rival the world major marathons… Berlin, Tokyo, Boston and London in the years to come.
He revealed that the 50,000 dollar top prize money marathon will attract the world best runners, adding the IAAF has gladly sanctioned the race and even newly elected IAAF president, Sebastian Coe may be present at the maiden race scheduled for February 6.
“A whole lot of work has been done and we are good to go with the maiden Access Bank/Lagos City Marathon,”Mr. Tinubu assured. The 42km race will begin at the National Stadium Surulere Lagos, and run through Ojota, the Third Mainland Bridge, into Admiralty Way in Lekki and then terminate at the Eko Atlantic City site.
Ogba remarked that the race will be held strictly to best international practice so that the country’s image will not be tarnished.
“AFN is interested in the technical aspect of the marathon. We must maintain international standards, because this will boost our image as a Federation and a country.
“We are expecting mass participation. I am also glad Access bank is coming with their partners to ensure that we have it for many years to come,” said the AFN boss.
Access Bank executive director personal banking, Victor Etuokwu said his organisation did not hesitate to take up the challenge, because of the well thought proposal. “When the idea came up that Lagos was planning to host a marathon which had been endorsed by the IAAF and Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), we felt we should support this initiative.
“Major cities in the world host marathons, which help to showcase the best of the city and boosting tourism while also boosting the economy of the country.”
In the elite athletes category, winners will get$50,000 each, while second and third place finishers will take $40,000 and $30,000 respectively.
The top 20 Nigerians will also be rewarded with cash prizes starting from N1 million, while the second and third positions will settle for N750,000 and N500,000 respectively.