Elite marathoners from a cross-section of Nigeria especially the Northern part of the country have called on other states governors to emulate the Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode by initiating marathon and road races in their dormains.
Most of the elite athletes who are preparing for the 4th edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon said apart from the Lagos Marathon being their own ‘Christmas’ because of the financial gains it avails them, the race is also very important because it has been helping them improve on their timing as they now have the opportunity to compete with the best in the world.
Deborah Pam is often described as the Queen of Marathon races in Nigeria and it was not surprising that she finished ahead of all her compatriots at the 2018 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.
The Plateau State-based runner commended Gov. Ambode for doing well with the Lagos Marathon but asked more states to come on board with their races too.
“We are very grateful to Governor Ambode for helping us with the Lagos Marathon, it is a very good event and it is really helping us a lot, but if we can get two or three more, it will be very good, and we can benefit more,” she said
Iliya Pam, who emerged tops among Nigerian runners at the last two editions of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon also gave kudos to the Lagos governor.
“Honestly, he (Ambode) has tried a lot…. there is no other governor that has organized something wonderful like that, now the marathon is moving from Bronze to Silver Label and by God’s grace, it will get to Gold so I am very happy and thank the Lagos governor.
The Nigeria marathon champion said he is keen to see other governors especially those in the North to come to the rescue of runners in their region.
On his part Coach Stephen Nuhu who is in charge of long-distance running said they are praying that the good works of Ambode are emulated and sustained even after he leaves office.
He said: “There is a lot of creativity around the marathon, people are now planning ahead and that is Lagos, the man (Ambode) has a lot of vision. We continue to pray that this thing will continue even after him and others will take a cue.
Since its inception, the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has made a special concession to Nigerian athletes; carving out a separate reward system outside the general prize monies.
With cars and prize monies being won each year by the runners, governors have been advised that crime and other vices can be reduced a great deal with the introduction of sporting events like the Lagos Marathon.