By Jacob Ajom
It was a clean sweep by Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes at the maiden edition of the Ijebu-Ode Heritage Half Marathon powered by Rite Foods Limited, makers of the Bigi range of drinks.
The 21-kilometer marathon was won by Kenya’s Hosea Kiplimo who finished the race in 1:02:36 secs, while his counterpart from Ethiopia, Rhonzas Kilimo finished second in 1:02:57secs. Another Kenyan Timothy Ronoh, placed third as he breasted the tape in 1:02:59secs.
The women’s race was also won by Kenya’s Sandra Chebet in a time of 1:10:42secs, with two Ethiopians – Gebaynesh Ayele, second, while Beyenu Degefa finished third in a time of 1:10:52secs and 1:11:02 respectively.
The race also brought two Ijebu indigenes, Femi Olusanya, a Police Officer, and eleven-year-old Abigael Ogunbowale to the limelight.
Olusanya became the “first Ijebu man” to complete the race, while Abigael, became a star and the first woman to get to the finish point of the 21-kilometer race which ended at the Dipo Dina Stadium in the ancient city.
In appreciation of her effort, Mr. Seleem Adegunwa, the Managing Director of Rite Foods Limited, producers of Bigi Table Water, the official water for the race, rewarded Abigael with N250, 000, adding that they are looking forward to making the competition better next year.
He maintained that it was a wonderful beginning, seeing a girl of such age compete with international stars, and also encouraged her to sustain the stride.
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“I really want to give kudos to all the athletes who started and finished the race, we are looking at making it better next year.
“As the son of the soil, I will continue to promote activities that will bring honour to our people by bringing events of this nature home.
“By our composition in Nigeria, we are good at sports, we just need to harness it so we can move to greater heights. I was not surprised today to see a 55-year-old and 11-year-old finishing the race, we are naturally gifted and we need to improve on our talents.”