By Dipo Olowookere
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, on Sunday said no fewer than 50,000 athletes from across the world are expected to participate in the second edition of Access Bank Lagos City Marathon billed to hold on February 11, 2017.
Governor Ambode, who stated this at Lagos House in Ikeja while addressing a world press conference on the marathon, said necessary logistics have been put in place to make the event hugely successful, and as well promote the tourism potentials of the state.
The Governor said about 33,753 runners including 65 elite marathoners from different parts of the world and over 100 local elite runners participated in the 2016 edition held on February 6 this year, while the marathon was adjudged as one of the best in the world.
He said the government was working to ensure that the 2017 edition of the Lagos City Marathon billed to hold on Saturday, February 11, 2017 would see a major improvement compared to the maiden edition.
Mr Ambode said that as a result of the success of the maiden edition, several individuals and corporate organisations have contacted the organisers of the Marathon to partner towards ensuring a successful tourney, adding that it would go a long way to engage and empower thousands of Lagosians in various sectors.
The Governor said that the 2017 edition, would also feature the top ten men and women marathoners in the world, who would also be joined by many gold label, silver label and bronze label marathoners from different parts of the world.
He said the appearance fees for gold label runners is $50,000, silver label $20,000 and bronze label $10,000, adding that invited local and foreign elite runners would be paid 50 per cent of their appearance fee now and balance up when they arrive Lagos for the tourney.
Winner of the 2017 Lagos City Marathon, according to the Governor would also go home with a cash prize of $50,000, while second and third place winners will smile home with $40,000 and $30,000 respectively.
“The Lagos City Marathon is presently ranked 68th in the world, but our desire is to make it the top ten in the world and that is what we are working on with the next episode of the event.
“Unlike the one held on February 6 this year, where we had over 30,000 athletes who participated, we are targeting a minimum of 50,000 runners who will take the city of Lagos by storm and put the city on the world map for coming up with such a huge event.
“We look forward to something exciting happening in Lagos. We are going to use sports as a vehicle to help develop our youths and when you talk about youth development you have to talk about recreational sports, about how you mentally activate younger ones and we just think that this marathon is one of those vehicles that we should use to galvanise sports in younger ones and even Lagosians at large,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor also expressed optimism that the success of the first edition and efforts to make next year’s edition bigger, the Lagos City Marathon would soon be labelled by the IAAF.
“We may get the CAA label before February 11, 2017; this will be another feat. We have put the necessary machinery in place to have a more elaborate start and a grand finish for this edition. There will also be entertainment at the finish for runners and spectators,” he said.
The Governor also added that for the 2017 edition, plans have been put in place to accommodate volunteers who would work hand in hand to make the event a success, adding that every volunteer would get a certificate signed by him and their names will be in Lagos State data base for volunteers.
He said that the State Government was working with other partners to address the challenges and hiccups recorded in the first edition of the Marathon, assuring that he would personally supervise the logistics required for the event.
“Route education plan will be released early so that Lagosians can plan their movement on race day. There will also be live transmission for the local and global audience. There will be clearer and bolder kilometre marking along the route. Our target is to also make Lagosians proud of this event and make them look forward to it every year,” the Governor said.
On his part, Mr Herbert Wigwe, Managing Director of Access Bank, the major partners of the Lagos City Marathon, expressed optimism that the 2017 edition of the race would be bigger and better.
He said Access Bank was glad to partner with Lagos State, noting that the success of the first edition did not only showcase Lagos to be an avenue for sports development, but also for the growth of tourism and youth development.
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