Sunday, October 17, 2021

‘We won’t accept all manner of sponsors in 2018’

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All Kenyans….First set of marathoners racing towards the Eko Atlantic finish point in the second Access Bank Lagos City Marathon last weekend. Photo: Ayodele Adeniran

With the euphoria over the 2017 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon still spreading, the event’s Main Organising Committee (MOC) has said that its doors for more partners would only be opened to corporate bodies that can complement its effort in keeping the event world-class.

The second edition of the marathon, which attracted over 55,000 runners from different parts of the globe, took place last weekend with Kenyan athletes sweeping the top prizes in both male and female categories.

While many companies are already jostling to be part of the 2018 edition, some are said to be embarking on what an official described as ‘ambush’ marketing.

However, the Executive Director, Personal Banking of Access Bank, Mr. Victor Etuokwu, who headed the MOC for the marathon, told The Guardian that as much as they want more sponsors to be part of subsequent editions, they would continue to thread with caution. “We are mindful of the standard we have already set and where we are going. The second edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon was a remarkable improvement on the first edition, and we hope to keep the momentum. It will be much better in 2018, and one of the ways is to make sure that only those who can make it a world-class marathon will be involved. The kind of partners we need are those who can ‘run the race’ in accordance with our laid down procedures.”

Speaking further, Etuokwu said that organizing a world-class event like a marathon race usually comes with its big challenges. “Governor Ambode made it clear from the beginning that our aim is to make the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon among the top 10 in the World. It has the potential to promote sports as well as tourism, fitness, competitiveness and healthy living.

“Lagos, being the Center of Excellence, should be emulated by other states. I want other state governors and political leaders in Nigeria to take a cue from Governor Ambode and arrest unemployment, solve problems of criminality and generally engage our youth with road races and marathon.

Etuokwu also spoke on the challenges of organizing the marathon: “You cannot organize something of this nature without having one or two challenges. The major challenge, especially in this part of the world, is being able to have the right tools and equipment to organize a world-class event. Most of the equipment is not easy to find, and if you find them, they are a bit expensive to organize.

“The second is funding, although the sponsors answered the funding question, while the third is just having to educate the people about it, how to prepare for the marathon and how to organize yourself for a marathon. So, a lot of effort was put in planning from the start point to the finish.

“The massive turn out of runners comes with huge logistics, and the right people to manage it. It was nothing really out of the ordinary, but we thank God that we had the right people, the right partners, and we had the right host, the Lagos State Government and especially the governor, who was personally involved and personally interested in ensuring that Lagos made the best out of it. As you know, the governor is keen on making Lagos a travel destination and making Lagos the best city in the world. That can only happen when you have the right partners and the right people working with you either as a committee or directly,” he stated.

According to a study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Regional Economics Applications Laboratory, in 2013, the Chicago Marathon generated $253.49 million in total business activity to the Chicago economy, which is an equivalent of 1,742 full-time jobs and $85.94 million worth of wages and salary income.

The 119th Boston Marathon of April 20, 2015, and surrounding Marathon-related events, including the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo and the B.A.A. 5K, was estimated to have enriched the city with $181.9 million (USD), according to reports.

The London Marathon generated £110.1 million worth of economic activity in the United Kingdom last year, while spending in the capital by marathon runners, spectators, organizers and visitors was worth £31.7 million, according to a report.

For Etuokwu, however, the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, though still at infancy, has a lot of economic benefits for the state and the people, particularly the health implications of the marathon.

Etuokwu said: “Health they say is wealth. A healthy nation will definitely be productive and by extension prosperous. We want Lagosians to always stay healthy. By organising this marathon, Governor Ambode is not only promoting sports and tourism but also ensuring he governs a healthy community of people.”

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