After IAAF bronze label, Access Bank Lagos City Marathon dreams gold
Worldwide, the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) labels only 88 marathon races. And among the ‘lucky 88’ is the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, which is barely three years old.
Earlier this year, the Lagos marathon joined the global elite races like New York, Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, Dubai, London, Roma, Paris and Berlin, when IAAF awarded it a Bronze Label.
However, organizers of the event are already looking beyond the Bronze Label, with a target for the Gold Label before the end of 2019.
Project Consultant, Bukola Olopade, told The Guardian during the week that the 2018 edition holding on February 10, would prove to IAAF that the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has the qualify of a Gold Label race.
The first two editions of the marathon, limited to the 42km elite race, had over 50,000 participants in 2016 and over 70,000 participants in 2017 in the second edition.The 2018 edition of the marathon looks set to beat the attendance record of the 2016 and 2017 editions as the organizers are anticipating between 100,000 to 120,000 runners.
Perhaps, one major step, which the organisers have taken to attract more participants for the 2018 edition was the introduction of the 10km races, sponsored by GAC Motors. The 10km race is geared at bringing more participants on board and further makes the Access Bank Lagos Marathon one of the top events on the athletics calendar across the world.
According to Olopade, the 10km race is opened to any individual resident in Nigeria regardless of their nationality.“We approved the 10km race for next year’s marathon to bring more excitement to the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon,” he said.GAC Motors has donated two cars for winners of the men and women’s 10km races, a move Olopade says is good for the marathon. “Whether you are Chinese, American, British or even Japanese, once you are resident in Nigeria, you are qualified to take part in the 10km race.”
To Olopade, the success recorded by the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon within a short period of time would not have been possible without the support of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.“Governor Amdode has proven his worth as an accomplished leader, great motivator and mobiliser, as well as excellent manager of men and materials,” Olopade told The Guardian. “His vision, unflinching support and can-do-it-attitude actually brought the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon to where it is today. We are a global brand today because of Governor Ambode’s vision and foresight. Without him there won’t be anything called Access Bank Lagos City Marathon in the first place. This is his project and he is giving us all support we need. We are very grateful.”
General Manager of the Lagos Marathon, ex-international, Yusuf Alli says the 2018 edition will come with a lot of funfair.“Since the Bronze Label was awarded to the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon by the IAAF, we have been working round the clock to put in place things that will enhance our chances of getting the Gold label as soon as possible,” Alli stated at the Marathon Office located at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
With the introduction of two car prizes, it is expected that more people will step up their preparations to win big at the 2018 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.A survey by The Guardian during the week shows that thousands of Nigerians, from professional runners to fun runners, are interested in the 10km event. The prize money for Nigerian participants in the race has received a remarkable boost.
While the runners have the opportunity to win the general prize money with other nationals, there is the exclusive Nigerian winner prize money, which is now increased to N3 million from N1 million by Access Bank.The marathon route has been certified by IAAF/AIMS. The route was certified by Norris Williamson, a grade A measurer, who measured the marathon route for the Atlanta, Athens and Beijing Olympic Games and several other marathons and road races.
Head of Organizing Committee of the Marathon and Executive Director of Access Bank, Mr. Victor Otoko says necessary preparation has been perfected to make the 2018 edition more memorable for all able body runners and special athletes who will participate in the race.
“The Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is now an IAAF Bronze Labelled Road Race, therefore, any athlete who competes in the race and returns a world-class time becomes a Bronze Label runner. We are making frantic effort for the race to get IAAF Gold label between 2018 and 2019.
“We are happy with the introduction of the 10km race. A British, Chinese, Egyptian or another other national of the over two hundred countries in the world who live in Nigeria, work and pay tax in Nigeria is eligible to win the cars like any other Nigerian but foreigners or Nigerians resident abroad who came just for the marathon are not eligible. It’s strictly for Nigerian residents,” Otoko stated.
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