Over 3,000 athletes have been confirmed to run at the fifth Okpekpe International 10km Road Race which holds tomorrow at Okekpe near Auchi in Edo State.
A top technical official of the race, Yusuf Alli disclosed thursday in Okpekpe that the number is made up of over 23 foreign elite athletes and 32 from the Nigerian elite class.
â€œThe elite athletes, both foreign and local are here in Auchi. They will go on a route tour today to familiarise themselves with the race course in line with International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) rules,â€ said Alli, a former Nigeria long jump king and former Commonwealth record holder.
â€œI am delighted with the huge number of locals especially from North Ibie side which includes Okpekpe. It shows they have fully embraced the race. They will not only be running to be fit or just for the fun of it. They also have the opportunity to win money at the event. There is prize money for the North Ibie athletes courtesy Mr John Momoh, chairman and chief executive officer of Channels Television,â€ revealed Ali who restated the organisers preparedness for the race.
â€œEverything is set. The athletes are here. We have done the lining of the route, particularly the kilometer markings. There will be water, sponges and refreshment stations along the route and at the finish and if I must add, the drinking/sponging and refreshment stations are adequately staffed by competent personnel and everything has been done in accordance with IAAF Rule 240.8,â€ he said.
Ali also hinted that doping procedures will follow immediately after the race.
â€œWe have a doping station built since last year and it will be manned by competent anti-doping officers led by Dr Akin Amao formerly of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports. The IAAF has listed the race as an international competition which means the doping will be done as if it is the IAAF World Championship that is taking place. The race is one of only two listed by the IAAF on their website as an international competitionâ€
He also said the race will be timed using full automatic electronic timing system and that there will be split timing at every kilometre.
”A clock Car will precede the race leaders indicating the time elapsed since the start of the race. The timing for the race will be done by MYLAPS Sports Timing, the internationally recognised automatic sports timing company. Last year we raised the bar in terms of organising road races in Nigeria by joining such world acclaimed marathons as Boston, Rotterdam and Melbourne marathons who now rely on MYLAPS technology for the world-class timing of their events
â€œWe also have the tracking application to enable the media, athletes and their friends and families as well as spectators and even sponsors to follow the progress of the participants as well as the entire organisation of the event.â€
Last year Kenyan duo of Simon Cheprot and Polline Wanjiku Njeru came first in the male and female categories respectively. They went home with $15,000 prize money each after finishing in a record time of 29min: 48sec and 33min: 53sec respectively.