THESE ARE THE 10 OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM THE LAGOS CITY MARATHON
The Lagos City Marathon took place on February 6, 2016. It has come and gone. No doubt, memories of the event will linger for the next year until the second edition in 2017.
Put together by the Lagos State Sports Commission, the event had Access Bank as headline sponsor. With collaborative efforts from the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), National Sports Commission (NSC), the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), a private sports management company and other corporate brands as partners, the marathon was held after a thirty-year hiatus.
The following observations were made from the start to the finish of the marathon.
1. Scheduled for 7 o’clock in the morning, the marathon went into full swing as planned by the organisers. Some may say an international body was involved hence the early start. Regardless, the event commencing as planned showcases the organisers and host state as not interested in the evaporating ‘Nigeria time’ syndrome. This is good for both the state and country whose people have a historical disregard for time management.
2. In the face of huge public awareness, many motorists attempted to use routes which were temporarily the right of way of the marathon for its duration. Some motorists expressed their anger as in their view, the event was meaningless. It is clear many Nigerians do not understand the efficacy of such a sports – or sports generally – and its benefits on participants and the native economy.
3. With several routes blocked by organisers and security agents, occupants of held up vehicles left their vehicles for the sidelines of the marathon. The occupants were seen cheering at and encouraging runners to keep going and keep at it. It was indeed exciting scene.
4. Aspiring amateur participants of the marathon were critically advised to seek medical counsel before getting involved. It seems some waved the advice aside. For a sport one has never attempted before or even covered a distance as low as 2 kilometres by practise, it was best not to attempt at all. Some non-pro-athletes did not heed. What we saw on the day, was a few participants passing out along the race route. Good thing medical volunteers were readily accessible and available to tend to such persons. Ahead of next edition, train before the real trial.
5. True to the words of the organisers and host state, security was well in place to secure both runners and onlookers. Virtually all security agencies of the Nigerian-state and Lagos state, were on the ground – and air, to ensure smooth organisation of the marathon with little or no hitches.
6. The executive governor of Lagos state, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode is no doubt serious about the use of sports and entertainment to grow the state’s economy. In his speech at the finish line where a music concert was in session, the governor reiterated his commitment to promote sports, setting the state as an international sports destination market (ISDM). A mammoth opportunity beckons on investors and businesses to get involved in sports development and sponsorship.
7. The moment for medal presentation saw a delay. Champion athletes took a while (about 20 minutes or more) to show up for the presentation. The comperes repeatedly called out names of the athletes to be at the podium as dignitaries were waiting there. Whispers was the athletes were resting to catch their breath. If you have run 42 kilometres, you will understand the experience. This was the first edition. No doubt, the organisers must have learnt from that near embarrassing moment to capture such time delay towards the next edition.
8. The name Peter Kiplagat, is synonymous with marathons. A global household name, the Kenyan won the 2015 Geneva Marathon in Switzerland. Declaring his intent to win the Lagos City Marathon in a time of 2 hours 17 minutes, many looked out to see him cross the finish line first. Well, that did not happen as another Kenyan Abraham Kipton won the marathon howbeit in 2 hours 16 minutes 21 seconds better than Kiplagat’s targeted finish time.
9. “The best way to predict the future, is to create it.” A popular quote by Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive of headline sponsors Access Bank. True to his words which he reiterated on Saturday, his bank and Lagos state are creating a [new] future so they can predict it. We look to see what other future they intend to create.
10. Overall, the Lagos City Marathon, regardless of perceived or real hitches, was an enormous success. The team of organisers, volunteers, partners and even residents, made the event an achievement to be proud of. We look forward to the second edition which has been announced to take place on February 11, 2017.
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