Chimaobi Augustine Azubuike from Imo State pulled the biggest surprise at the sixth Opobo Marathon when he beat more established runners from across the country to win the N500,000 prize money.
Before the competition, attention centred on Plateau State runners, who have made long-distance races their goldmine since the days of Abbas Mohammed and Yohana Waziri. But the plucky Azubuike, in his second appearance at the event, showed that he has mastered the course to take the day, leaving the second position to Yusuf Babije from Plateau State, while Eric Constance finished third to win N200,000 and N100,000 respectively.
In the women’s category, Blessing Bulus from Plateau State dusted all comers to cart home the N500,000 prize money for first position, while Charity Agofure from Delta State came second to win N200,000 and Saibu Yetunde from Ogun State rounded up the top three-win N100,000.
In the two special positions, Jaja Tamuno won the first position for the indigenous category, while a 15-year-old Queen Nwidah was the youngest runner to finish the marathon, pocketing N50,000 in the process.
Speaking after the race, Azubuike said he was surprised that he won the marathon, especially as he felt that there would be more experienced runners. He added that he was aided to victory by what he had read about Opobo while growing up, so he decided to come and see the town.
Also speaking, the Amanyanabo of Opobo, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, who also took part in the leisure category, commended the level of competition and the number of participating athletes from various states.
Team Lead for the Opobo marathon, Iyowuna Cookey, expressed gratitude to the Amanyanabo, as well as Platform Petroleum Limited, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), D’Consiglories Nig Limited and Opu ALABO Foundation, athletes and dignitaries for their support and level of participation to ensure its success.
The marathon had in attendance, the Chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Council, Enyiada Cookey-Gam; Former Deputy Speaker Federal House of Representatives, Austin Opara; former NNPC Executive Vice President Upstream Sector, Adokiye Tombomieye; Senibo Sody Peterside; CEO D’Consiglories Nig. Limited, Blessing Fubara; former Commissioner for Information, Rivers State, Alabo Chris Finebone; Emma Okah; Prof Iyalla Peterside and retired Super Eagles goalkeeper, Bishop Idah Peterside.