Cross River suspends Obudu Mountain Race
FACED with huge financial challenges, the Cross River State Government has put on hold its annual International Obudu Mountain Race. For the first time since the race started in 2005, the state has not paid the prize money of about $250,000 to the winning international, local and media athletes for the 10th edition held last year.
With this development, it is obvious that the 11th edition of the 11.25-kilometre mountain race scheduled for November this year will not take place and pressure is on government to pay last year’s winners.
The Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade on Monday in a late evening media briefing announced that the International Obudu Mountain Race “would be put on hold as the state would not be able to continue financing the race due to its current financial status.”
He also pointed out that the while the state spends much money on the race, the race has not benefited the indigenes of the state in anyway because of poor practice of sporting activities even though the event was meant to benefit the state.
Since the inception of the race in 2005 by the then Governor, Donald Duke, Ethiopians and Kenyans have always been carting home the first prize of $50, 000, second prize of $30, 0000 and the third prize of $10, 000.
However, for last year’s race the organizers decided to reduce the second and the third place prizes to $10, 000 and $9, 000 due to the state’s poor finances. Sponsorship is an area the state government was really looking at to get the race going, but for 10 years running, the Obudu Mountain Race has not been able to get major sponsors.
The locals that usually took advantage of the race to make brisk business may have to wait indefinitely until the state government lifts the suspension on the race.
The former Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, who was represented by his deputy at the 10th edition of Obudu Mountain Race, said the most important reason the tournament was initiated was to encourage and produce champions from within the country.
In his words, “One important reason of this race is to produce a champion within but since we started this race we have not been able to produce any champion yet.
We are not yet at the expected point but we will get there. “This 10th mountain race could have been the World Mountain Race championship but could not hold, we hope to get the hosting right someday that will make first mountain race in Africa.”
The Obudu Mountain Race since inception has attracted world class road running athletes, as well as mountain running athletes like Abebe Dinkesa, Rono Philemon, Philip Kiplimo, Fikadu Awash, Meselech Halieyesus, Andre Mayr, Rita Jeptoo and others. It is an associate member race of the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) and endorsed by the International Association Athletics Federations (IAAF).
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