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op-ed

Access Bank Lagos City Marathon a Reflection of Life’s Journey

Staff Reporter

2016-02-15 15:27:16.

By Duro Ikhazuagbe

Berlin, Boston, New York, London and Shanghai all have something in common: These are some of the world’s biggest marathon destinations!

Penultimate weekend (February 6), Lagos also showed signs of becoming a member of this exclusive club of great marathon destinations. The former federal capital hosted what can be described as one of the best organised marathon races in Nigeria. The Access Bank Lagos City Marathon attracted some of the best road runners from around the continent. It was the first time in three decades that Lagos was returning to the map of marathon hosting countries.

Without any doubt, the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon mirrors life better than 100 m and 200 m races where Usain Bolt’s regal perch as king has remained unchallenged because of the endurance, perseverance, and tenacity of purpose of the men and women who took part in the race.

As every runner in the 20,000 strong field went their way and deployed skills that could guarantee completion of the 42.5 km race, their glide provided humanity with some invaluable learning.

The track of life typified by the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon showed the need for individuals to own their goals, know their capacity and limits, persevere to attain their goals, and remain on track since that is the only way to breasting a tape! There were as much cheers and distractions for the runners who started the race from the National Stadium in Surulere before snaking through through the Third Mainland Bridge to Lekki Phase One before berthing at the Finish Point on Eko Atlantic City.

On the way, of course, many fell for various reasons, but those who recognized the need to own their goals tended not to fall for the baits that usually rob people of the opportunity of attaining their goals. Like in life where one is a potential winner, the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon presented everyone with an opportunity to be a winner.

Aside from the privilege of signaling to the world with every ‘take-off’ in the race of life that one is on a mission and is filled with ambition, such as the motivation for participating in the marathon by every of the 20,000 runners, what constitutes success differs from person to person. For many, covering 3 km of the 42.5 km race was as good as winning the $50,000 (Fifty Thousand Dollars) prize money Abraham Kipton, the Kenya athlete who completed the race in 2 hours 16 mins and 19 seconds, ferried to his home in Nairobi effortlessly.

For 68-year old retired nurse from the United States of America, Mrs. Abiola Oshodi Adeniyi-Bada, participation in the marathon was a greater achievement than the celebrated dominance of the trio of Abraham Kipton, Kipkeboi Hosea and Debebe Tolosa, who trucked home $50,000 (Fifty Thousand Dollars, $40,000 (Forty Thousand Dollars) and $30,000 (Thirty Thousand Dollars) respectively for hitting the finishing line ahead of other runners.

At 68, Mrs. Adeniyi-Bada’s motive for participating in the marathon will surely not be arriving ahead of Kipton, an IAAF Gold Label ranking athlete and his gang who invest daily energy into the vision of becoming world champions, but to boost her health by keeping fit. She told THISDAY that she ran over six kilometres to Anthony Bus Stop before pulling out of the 42.5km race, with a very high sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.

Though she admitted not liking the idea of other athletes just zooming past her, Mrs. Adeniyi-Bada was full of joy because at 68, she still has enough to be counted among 20,000 runners in that inaugural Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.

From this perspective, it is incontrovertible that the trigger for individual happiness is self-regulated. Does anyone think that it is unlikely that Mrs. Adeniyi-Bada’s sense of happiness and accomplishment is higher than that of those who walked away with $40,000 and $30,000 respectively in the race? When individuals own their goals, they tend to remain committed to accomplishing them. Mrs. Adeniyi-Bada stayed on track and remained focused. She operated within the limit of her capacity to reach her target. That itself was very encouraging in a country where life expectancy is around 47 years!

The glamour of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon was woven around several inspiring messages which were highlighted by the characteristics of the sponsoring brands. For the title sponsor, Access Bank whose Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe, announced the next edition of the marathon will hold on February 11, 2017, “collaborating with Lagos State on the marathon was a valid opportunity to engage with people of the ideals of Access Bank, particularly the Bank’s deep-seated interest in getting people to begin the race of life and supporting them through the journey. Our sponsorship of the marathon was not just to highlight the fact that Access Bank is a distinct financial brand with high sense of responsibility to the society, but a dependable partner of mankind”.

Also, in a tone that indicated excitement, the chief host, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode stated that, “Even though one of the reasons for hosting the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon was to situate Lagos State on the global map as great marathon city like London, Boston, Berlin and New York, this occasion has helped showcase the potentials of Lagos State as an investment destination with infrastructure and enabling environment for economic activities”.

Although there were some areas that needed to be improved upon in subsequent editions, every track aficionado who witnessed the race all agreed that Lagos put up a wonderful show. And if Lagos succeeds in getting IAAF Gold Label ranking for the race through the involvement of more top-ranked elite runners, the dream of Bukola Olopade who conceptualized the marathon would have been fulfilled.

This article was originally posted in the sports section on thisdaylive.com



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