The long-awaited National Cross Country Championship, a baby of the Ministry of Sports, will hold on February 18 in Jos, the ministry has confirmed. Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, said the championship, is aimed at helping Nigerian long distance runners to develop their strength and become better runners.

Dare, who began the move to develop distance running in Nigeria last year, said: “Cross country running, experts tell us, is excellent for developing strength.

“We have enormous potentials to rival the east Africans and win laurels for the country at continental and international championships and games. More importantly, we want to positively engage the distance runners in this country and make them earn good living from running around the world like their east and north African counterparts.”

Also speaking on the championship, its coordinator, Tony Osheku, said Dare will be remembered as the first sports minister in over four decades, who has taken positive and proactive interest in long distance running and runners.

He added: “I was a strong part of the team the sports minister assembled last year to map out plans on how to develop long distance running in Nigeria and I remember we had a camp for a few weeks in Jos for some of our elite distance runners.

“In cross country, you, sometimes, do a jump or run up a hill, and you’re not sure if you’re going to stumble. Or maybe you’ve picked up a lot of mud on your shoes and they feel as heavy as rocks. Either way, you’re building enormous strength: The hills and mud develop power and resilience in your calves, hamstrings, and quads. The uneven ground strengthens your feet and ankles.”

The National Cross Country Championship is a 10km event and will be held at the Rhino Golf Course in Jos.

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