Organisers of the fifth Okpekpe 10km International Road Race have denied speculations that the Edo State Government spent N70 million to host the one-day race a fortnight ago.
The 2017 edition of the IAAF Bronze labelled race was dominated as usual by road runners from East Africa with Ethiopian trio of Luel Gebrasilasi (29mins 28 secs), Jima Bekele (29.34), and Dawit Fikadu (32.22) making a clean sweep in the male category. Another Ethiopian, Gebru Azemra ran 33. 59 to win the women’s event. The top three finishers got $15,000, $10,000 and $7,000 in both the male and female categories.
Yesterday, CEO of Pamodzi Sports Marketing, the franchise owner of the race, Mr. Mike Itemuagbor, said,“The 2017 edition of the Okpekpe 10km International Road Race was not bankrolled by Edo State Government. The 2017 edition was sponsored by Pamodzi Sports Marketing and its partners. This is the fact of the matter, which is well known by everyone connected with the road race.”
While thanking Governor Godwin Obaseki for sustaining the involvement of the state in race, Itemuagbor revealed that the Edo State government only offered to pay the prize money for the only IAAF and AIMS certified road race in the whole of West Africa.
“Edo State government is only involved with the payment of the prize money to the winners, which is not anywhere in the region of N70 million erroneously reported,” he said.
Despite the plaudits received by the organizers for the quality manner the 2017 edition was professionally handled, Itemuagbor insisted that the next edition promises to be better.
“Our target is to make the Okpekpe race an IAAF gold labeled event. We want to make Okpekpe race the preferred destination for the world’s best road runners, just like what the London, Berlin, Boston and New York marathons have become today,” he enthused.