On the 13th of February 2021, the city of Lagos will be set agog with the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon. There had been initial fears that the marathon event will not hold due to health concerns as regards the COVID-19 pandemic that had caused a lot of major sporting activities across the world to be postponed and some eventually cancelled. Thus, it was a great delight when it was announced that the marathon event would still go on albeit with a lot of changes in line with the new health regulations put in place.
The marathon race which received a silver label in 2019 less than 5 years after the re-inception of the race after a long hiatus has become a star attraction not just for Nigerian athletes but also for foreign athletes who see the race serves as an opportunity to qualify for other major marathon races across the world.
The first ever Lagos international marathon took place in 1983 and the marathon course covers a distance of about 42km from the front of National Stadium through Surulere, Third Mainland Bridge to the Lekki-ikoyi link bridge and ends in front of Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island.
Speaking about this year’s event, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nilayo Sports Management Company; the organizers of the event, mentioned that the number of participants has been set at 300; a massive reduction from the number that participated last year.
He also disclosed that only the 42km race would be available for athletes to compete in as the “10km and wheelchair race wouldn’t be part of this year’s edition.” According the him, “The health of the athletes and everyone who will attend the event is very important to us. The absence of the race won’t take away the glamour of the event.”
Over 50,000 participants took part in the first edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon while the second edition recorded over 75,000 participants while the last edition recorded over 100,000 participants.
The race which has witnessed international participation with star names like Abraham Kiptum (Kenya), Halima Hassen (Ethiopia), Rodah Jepkorir Tanuyi (Kenya), Abraham Kiprotich (France), David Barmasai (Kenya) who is the course record holder in the men category with a time of 2:10:23, Dinke Meseret (Ethiopia), Sharon Cherop (Kenya) who is the course record holder in the female category with a time of 2:31:40, Almenesh Herpha (Ethiopia) has only grown in stature and size over the years gradually becoming a top rated event.
Despite the new guidelines, there is still an assurance of high-level participation from some of the world’s top long-distance athletes as well as elite local athletes and fun runners ensuring that nothing takes away the glamour of the event at its sixth edition.
Equally the organizers have put in place all measures to ensure the physical safety of all attendees including putting in place a curfew between 5 am and 10 am on the race day, ensuring adequate tight security at the start, along the route and the finish as well as their safety health wise with all elite runners expected to tender a certificate of clearance from COVID-19 virus not later than 72 hours before their arrival in the country, all members of the workforce undergoing a compulsory COVID-19 test and proper spacing of the runners to ensure social distancing. Also, hygiene stations will be set up at the start and finish areas with no entertainment at the finish point and all runners except the top three required to pick up their medals at the marathon office on designated days in a bid to avoid overcrowding.
For lovers of the marathon event and many neutrals who have come to love the annual event and will be forced to stay at home no thanks to health guidelines, there will be adequate coverage of the marathon event bringing it to them in the comfort of their homes.
Lagos get ready!