Kenyan athletes once again proved they are the undisputed leaders of long distance races as they dominated the 9th edition of the Access Bank/Lagos City Marathon held yesterday.
The Kenyans won all the top prizes in the men category of the 42 kilometer race and also took the second and third positions in the women category.
The race was flagged off in front of the National Stadium in Surulere at exactly 6.00am, but soon the humidity posed the biggest challenge to the runners as they raced to the finish point at Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island. The 2024 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon ran its full course without hitches, but there were no new records to celebrate as the organisers had wished.
However, the organisers deserve credits for delivering a good race and hospitality that Lagos can be proud of, and also to boost their credentials in the drive to achieve top five world marathon status.
On the hour mark Silas Cheprot, Geoffrey Birge and Bernard Sang separated themselves from the leading pack, but after 30 minutes of pacing, with his compatriots, Sang went ahead leaving Cheprot 50m behind at one km to go.
He had the luxury of checking his watch and watching his back if Cheprot was going to pull a surprised surge. There was no such thrilling finale as Sang coasted home effortless to clinch the title at 2.16.15. It was not the kind of result the Race General Manager, Yusuf Alli, wanted.
It was also six minutes late for the course record of 2.10.23secs held by David Barmasai of Kenya since 2020.
Silas Cheprot clocked 2.16. 54 and Geoffrey Birge 2.17. 44secs much to the delight of the Kenyan delegation.
In the women’s race, Urisa Kebene of Ethiopia prevented a Kenyan sweep, as she anchored with a time of 2.41.01secs.
She peeled away from the pack with 10km to go, and maintained a steady run to the finish unchallenged. Kenya’s Margaret Agai and compatriot Sharon Jemtal Cherop finished 2.41.42secs and 2.47.00secs respectively.
“It’s very hot in Lagos, in Kenya it’s cold,” said Sang, who was third in the 2023 race. “It is difficult to run under such conditions, but next year I would be around to give it another try.”
Second place woman, Agai, a first timer in the Lagos City Marathon also groaned about the weather, but praised the organisers for giving her the opportunity to compete.
The first Nigerian man to cross the finish line, Adamu Sheu Muazu, got to the finish line on a time of 2hrs: 29: 20secs with Nyango Gyang coming second in a time of 2hrs: 30: 21secs. Friday Yohana came third in a time of 2hrs: 35: 21secs.
The first Nigerian woman to brace the tape was Deborah Pam in, a time of 2hrs: 55: 27secs. Blessing Shambor Solomon came second in 2hrs: 56: 41secs while Power Elizabeth Nuhu was third with a time of 3hrs:18: 05secs.
Winners of the race in both men and women categories won $30,000 while the first and second runners- up went home with $ 20,000 and $ 15,000 respectively while the fourth to tenth positions got money ranging from $12,000 to $1,000.
Nigerian athletes who first got to the finish line got N 2 million for both men and women while the first and second runners-up smiled home with N 1.5 million and N1million. Those that finished from 4th to 10th position also got monies ranging from N 500,000 to N 50,0000.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Governor of Lagos State Engr. Obafemi Hamzat commended the organisers and Access Bank for putting up a seamless marathon, nothing that the state government would continue to support the development of long distance races.
In his own remarks, Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, who was represented by the Deputy Managing Director of the Bank, Victor Etuokwu, explained that the bank is happy to be associated with the history of the Marathon as it has led to many remarkable records of self-discovery and achievement.
About 88 elite athletes from 18 countries of the world and 15 refugee runners participated in the marathon, which attracted thousands of runners.
There was also a 10 kilometer race, which flagged off at the Grace Garden Event Place, Lekki with Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island as it’s finish point.”