Ethiopians Dominate 2017 Okpekpe Road Race


Duro Ikhazuagbe in Okpekpe and  Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

This year’s edition of the 2017 Okpekpe 10 kilometres road race has been won by Ethiopians in the male category, while in the female category two Ethiopians and a Kenyan emerged winner. The Ethiopian trio of Luel Gebrasilasis (29mins 28 secs), Jima Bekele (29.34),  and Dawit Fikadu (32.22) made a clean sweep in the male category yesterday even as Gebru Azemra ran 33. 59 to win the women’s event.

The 5th edition which was better packaged by Pamodzi Sports Marketing, the franchise owners of the IAAF bronze label race, lived up to billing with Veronica Maina (34.19) and Alice Timbili (34.39) winning the second and third positions to complete an East African clean sweep. The top three finishers got $15,000, $10,000 and $7,000 in both the male and female categories.

Interestingly, while the Nigerian men failed in their bid to make the top eight in order to get a share of the dollar prize money at stake, Civil Defence Corp athlete Deborah Pam ran 38.15 to finish 7th overall to qualify for $2,000 prize as well as the N250,000 on offer for the Nigerian category.

Nasarawa State athlete, Elizabeth Nuhu also made it to have a share of the dollars on offer. Nuhu ran 38.41 to place 8th and qualify for $1,500 and N100,000. Rose Akushio (38.55) of Plateau came in as third female Nigerian but only qualified for the local category prize money as she came 9th.

Overall winner of the male event, Gabrieselasie was excited as the top runner here in Okpekpe. He was particularly happy that he was able to surpass the second position he attained at the 2015 edition.

“I am very happy winning the 2017 Okpekpe 10 kilometer race. I was here in 2015 and finished second,” gushed the top runner from Ethiopia. He however said that he would have loved to erase the course record but the weather was very unfriendly for such.

There were other categories such ras unning for cancer, running for orphanages, running for women empowerment and running against cultism.

Immediate past Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole commended Governor Godwin Obaseki for sustaining the Okpekpe race.

“I know several programmes that have been abandoned by governors who took over from previous administrations. This Okpekpe race is one project aimed at empowering those in the grassroots” stressed Oshiomhole who ran alongside Obaseki at this edition.