By Jacob Ajom
The 2021 Bigi Abeokuta 10km Race billed for 13 November, in the Ogun State capital will not feature any foreign athlete. Organisers said the race is strictly for Nigerians.
However, despite the attempt to make it “purely Nigerian,” the prize money remains in dollars. The winners will take home $2,000, $1,500 for runner up and$1000 for third placed athlete.
Those are not the only changes that make this year’s edition of the race unique. For the first time, there will also be a wheelchair race and Rite Foods, manufacturers of Bigi range of products, have become the title sponsors of the event, which has the theme: Naija running for Homeland.
Winner of the race in the wheelchair category will cart home N500,000, N300,000 for runner up, while the third place finisher will get N100,000.
The route for the race has also been changed. The new take off point is from Alake and the race will terminate at the MKO Abiola Stadium.
Addressing the media at the IBD Hotel, Abeokuta Tuesday, the Managing Director of Nilayo Sports, Bukola Olapade said that the race was designed to encourage and empower local runners, identify budding talents, groom them before setting them out to the international stage.
“It is our dream to expose Nigerian athletes and see more of them break into the international road race circle. We want to use the Bigi Abeokuta 10k Race to throw up more young runners,” he said.
Brand Manager, Rite Foods, Bolu Adedugbe said her organization agreed to identify with the race in order to champion the ‘truly Nigerian’ concept, which aligns with the company’s philosophy. “We are prepared to support anything that takes us closer to our consumers,” she said.
The race General Manager, Yusuf Ali disclosed that every runner, able and wheelchair runners will wear chips to avoid cheating. Spy cameras will be mounted on the routes and athletes will observe social distancing at the starting point and all Covid-19 protocols will be strictly adhered to.
Yusuf appealed to media personnel covering the event to be mindful of the mandatory distance to the athletes to avoid any distractions.
He recalled that at the last race in Ijebu Ode, media personnel on motorcycle covering the Ijebu Heritage Half Marathon, unknowingly damaged the mats which was supposed to help monitor runners on the routes.
“We don’t want a repeat of this at the Bigi Abeokuta 10km Race.”