Plateau State duo of Kefar Williams and Blessing Solomon made history as the first winners of the first National Cross Country race held at the Rhino Gold Course in Jos on Saturday.
Kefar ran 31:38.30 to win the race ahead of 2022 National 3000m steeplechase champion, Stephen Joshua (31:51.69) and Emmanuel Gwang (32:01.77) who came second and third respectively. Williams’ time is a personal best for him and a course record.
The Police Sergeant expressed his delight after the race and wants the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria to give distance runners more competitions. ‘I believe we can rival the east Africans if we get the same level of attention and support they get here,’ he said.
For the women’s race run separately from the men in accordance with international standards, Solomon, the 2022 National Sports Festival 3000m steeplechase champion ran 38:36.12 to win ahead of 11 time national 5000/1000m champion, Deborah Pam (38:47:37) and Grace Danlami.
Pam, the best Nigerian runner at the Gold label Access Bank Lagos City Marathon early this month was delighted to run her first Cross Country race in Nigeria.
‘I am delighted to be a part of this historic race. I had to leave Lagos last (Friday) night to be able to run today (Saturday) and happy to finish among the first three,’ said the 32 year old whose husband, Emmanuel Gyang finished third in the men’s race.
For their efforts, the top three finishers in the men and women’s race went home with #300,000; #200,000 and #100,000 respectively.
Athletes who finished from fourth to 12th also got paid for their efforts.
The race was flagged off by the Zonal Coordinator for the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Mrs Deborah Pitman who represented chief Sunday Dare, the Youth and Sports Development Minister.
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