Global athletics ruling body, World Athletics (WA), has picked the Okpekpe International Road Race as one of the qualifying events for August’s World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. This is one of the attractions in this year’s event, which will hold one month from today in Okpekpe, near Auchi, Edo State.
“This means athletes coming to compete for the prize money on offer will also have the additional motivation to secure the entry standard to the 19th World Athletics Championships,” said the race’s Director, Media and Activation, Dare Esan.
The race will be the first gold label 10km road race to be held in Nigeria and organisers have restated their commitment to organising an event worthy of its new status.
According to Esan, this year’s edition, the ninth in the series, will be the biggest so far in terms of the quality of elite athletes that will participate in it, as well as its technical and administrative organisation.
“We are organising a gold label road race this year and, naturally, the quality of athletes that will race will have gold written all over them. As a gold label race, elite athletes that will compete must be gold level running athletes and this we have complied,” said Esan.
Esan said the development would have a positive effect on the quality of performances, adding, “we are not only expecting a new course record for the men and women races but also a few of the athletes running a sub-29 minutes for men and a sub-32 for women.”
Ethiopia’s Teshome Mekonen holds the men’s course record (28:35), while another Ethiopian, Wude Ayalew, ran 32:41 to set the women’s course record, both set in 2014.
Esan said the Okpekpe International 10km Road Race is one of the approved events that have met all the requirements to serve as a qualifying event for the biennial championships.
“We are delighted that, through the race, we are have been to make Nigeria a destination of sort for sports globally and we have opened the door for more road races in Nigeria to get international recognition and have their races courses measured by World Athletics accredited course measurer.
“We intend to keep up with our pacesetting role by organising another world-class race that others can emulate as we strive to positively create a road-running culture in Nigeria,” he said.