The Okpekpe International Road Race
In a bid to boost the status of the annual Okpekpe race from its present bronze to gold, the organisers have invited no fewer than 60 foreign marathoners from 11 countries to participate in the May 13 fifth edition of the event in Etsako East Local Council of Edo.
Race Director, Zackey Amodu said in Benin City yesterday that the expected foreign athletes are gold label runners, adding that their invitation was part of the strategy to up the status of the road race.
He listed some of the expected countries to include Kenya, Morocco, Eritrea and Ethiopia, adding that some athletes from Europe and Asia countries would be participating in the road race.
He also said as part of the plan to improve on the standard of the race, accreditation of the expected athletes and other participants would commence two days before the race, instead of the usual eve of the competition.
“It is going to be a week long event and the aim is to create much awareness for the race.
“We expect our foreign stars to arrive in the country on May 11, while accreditation will take place from May 11 to May 12, instead of the usual one day to the event.
“We also want to use this race to work towards achieving gold label and for this reason, most of the athletes we are expecting for this race are gold label stars,” he stated.
Also speaking on the race, Edo State’s Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu has appealed to sportsmen and women to shun the use of performance enhancing drugs, saying that sports is all about discipline and integrity, which must be brought into it by avoiding cheating through the use of drugs.
Earlier, promoter of the yearly race, Mike Ituemagbon had revealed that this year’s competition would be used to boost tourism in the state.
He also disclosed that no fewer than 2000 school children of age six would be given their first football as part of the programme for the marathon race.
“We are synergising with the state’s Ministry of Arts and Culture to attract tourists to the state. There is going to be a week-long awareness for the race.
“We expect that this will serve as boost to tourism in the state as the week long activity will afford us the opportunity to showcase the culture and tourism potential of the state,” he said.
The PAMODZI boss said Lets Play, which has been a part of the Okpekpe road race programme and sponsored by SuperSport, is meant to encourage the participation of young ones in sporting activities, adding that this year’s edition of the programme will take place at the new sports complex of the Edo University, Iyamoh.