Chief Grace Egbagbe
As more East Africans enter for the 10km race
A retired Executive Director at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Chief Grace Egbagbe, has thrown her weight behind the Okpekpe 10km International Race slated for May 4 in Edo State.
Egbagbe, the first female Okpekpe graduate is just one of the several indigenes of the community who are eagerly waiting for the race date to come for them to show their hospitality to the visitors.
The former NTA director who is a lawyer was honoured with the Orufoneye of Okpekpe chieftaincy title last year for her contribution to the community.
She said yesterday that the 10km race was a fantastic way of exposing the area to the world.
“We are very passionate about this Okpekpe 10km Road Race. Apart from exposing the area to the world as a potential tourism destination, it will further encourage our youths to take to sports,” said the Okpekpe chief.
She described the terrain as “breathtaking and one the first time visitor will always want to come-back to visit.”
“Now that this race has put us on the world map, we are going to do everything possible to ensure that those coming take away wonderful memories of our Okpekpe land. I am very certain that some of the visitors will want to come back to invest in some of the mineral deposits that are in some of the hills,” stressed Egbagbe who played a great role in bringing electricity to Okpekpe and its environs.
Meanwhile, more East African road runners have signify interests in coming to Nigeria to battle for the mouth-watering prize money at stake.
Coordinator of the Race, Yusuf Alli, confirmed at the weekend that the latest entries received from managers of these road runners include Moses Masai (Kenya) who has a Persona Best time of 27 mins.19secs in the 10km race.
Masai is a bronze medallist in the 10,000m event of the 2009 World Championship in Berlin.
He also placed fourth in the same event at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Also booked on the flight to Nigeria is another Kenyan, Mike Kigen. He won the silver medal at the last All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambizue and has a Persona Best of 27:25 in the 10km race.
Others listed for Okpekpe are; Timothy Toroitich and Thomas Ayeko both from Uganda and Magdalyne Masai (Kenya) who placed third at the Amorebieta X-Country Race in Seville, Spain this year.
One of the managers of the athletes from the stable of Pace Sports Management, Michael Skinners admitted inability to attract European runners to this first edition was because of the limited time to the race.
“The athletes I have forwarded and set to come to Nigeria for the Okpekpe Road Race. It is just unfortunate I do not have European runners for this edition because this is high season and still there are some marathon races in Europe going on,” stressed Skinners in the email to the race organizers at the weekend.