Novel course record anticipated at fifth Okpekpe race

Former Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole (middle); flanked on the right by Miss Nigeria, Leesi Peter-Vigoro, at the VIP starting point of the Okpekpe 10km race…yesterday. PHOTO: ALEMMA-OZIORUVA ALIU,

• Esekhaigbe joins celebrity cast for event

Organisers of the Okpekpe international 10km road race have predicted new men and women’s course records when the fifth edition of the IAAF Bronze Label race holds in Okpekpe near Auchi, Edo State on Saturday May 13.

In 2014, Kenya’s Teshome Mekonnen and Ethiopia’s Wude Ayalew ran 28:35 and 32:41 respectively to smash the course and the Nigerian all-comers record of 29:39 and 33:01 set a year earlier at the inaugural edition of the race.

“Last year at the fourth edition of the race, the Kenyan duo of Simon Cheprot (29:48) and Polline Wanjiku Njeru (33:53) failed to race past Mekonnen and Ayalew’s records but all that will change this year,” said Yusuf Alli, a technical official of the race.

“The quality of the elite athletes confirmed for this year’s race is such that we cannot even rule out a new world lead come May 13.The world lead for the men’s race is 27:18 set by Kenya’s Bernard Kimeli last month in Padeborn while the women’s lead is held by another Kenyan, Joyciline Jepkosgei, which she set also last month in Praha, the Czech Republic.

‘’Many of the gold and silver level running athletes confirmed for the race have ran faster than the course records set by Mekonnen and Ayalew in 2014,” further said Alli who believes with the new course authenticated by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the Association of international marathons and road races (AIMS), he is confident the athletes will race to new records in Okpekpe.

“With MYLAPS Sports Timing, a Netherland’s based internationally recognised automatic sports timing company once again providing the race with an easy to use, accurate and reliable timing system, all participants are ensured of flawless timing at the race.

“This will give the race more credibility and reconfirm its status as an IAAF label race, one of only two label races in Africa in 2017,” said Alli, a former Commonwealth long jump king.

Meanwhile a counter terrorism expert, Maj.-Gen. Cecil Esekhaigbe (rtd) has joined the celebrity cast for the race. Like the other celebrity runners, he will not also be running for any of the prize monies on offer.

“Maj.-Gen. Esekhaigbe is the latest in the long list very important personalities who have endorsed the IAAF Bronze Label Okpekpe international 10km road race. He will be running to create awareness about the health benefits of running,” said Dare Esan spokesman for the race.

“Running like we all know is a great exercise for the heart, it improves our heart condition, boosts weight loss, strengthens bone structure and stimulates the brain among other benefits. This is what the retired Major General wants to raise awareness about.’’

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