If you needed proof that the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is the biggest singular sporting event in West Africa you need not look any further than the recently concluded fourth installment which happened on February 2, 2019.
100,000 runners. 4,000 international runners. 20 elite runners. The athletes: 42km runners; 10km runners; wheelchair racers; first timers; veterans, runners who came from far and wide. Then there were those who came to watch just to be a part of something incredible. There were sponsors. There were vendors. There were artistes. There was the GMD of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe and the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode.
It’s not often that a single event touches so many in so many different ways.
There are many reasons to celebrate this year’s marathon. In the four years Access Bank has partnered with the Lagos State Government to organize the marathon, we’ve seen the attitude of Nigerians change towards sports, personal health, green initiatives, and even national pride.
This year’s edition brought the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon closer to its short term goal of becoming a Silver Label Road Race. Suntayahu Legese of Ethiopia won the competition overall, after a dramatic finish that saw him overtake Joshua Kipkorir of Kenya, the front-runner for most of the race, in the final leg.
William Yegon who is also Kenyan completed the trifecta of male winners for the main event. Ethiopian, Dinke Meseret dominated the women’s race getting to the finish line before Almnesh Herepa and Kabena Chala. Nigerian winners, Sunday Manasa and Deborah Badung both came in at 6th in the overall rankings, with better times than Iliya Pam from the first Marathon who came in 17th overall, and Olude Fadekemi who came 12th overall in the women’s category during the 2017 race.
With a total cash prize of up to $400,000, and prize categories that rewarded not just the male and female winners of the marathon, the Access Lagos City Marathon is one of the most inclusive marathons on the continent.
A major event like the Marathon has attracted interest in long distance running as a preferred form of exercise. Even as a Bronze category race, the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has put the world on notice of the amazing athletics spectacle coming out of Nigeria. With each edition, lessons are learned and improvements are made, and there is no doubt that soon enough the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon will achieve the Silver Label status it deserves.
BY : AGWABOR AYOMIDE