Officially, there was a slew of winners that got home with prizes at the 2019 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon which held on Saturday, February 2. Ethiopians Suntayahu Legese and Dinke Meseret emerged winners of the male and female 42km events and went home with $50,000 top prizes.
Kenyan duo, Joshua Kipkorir ($40,000) and William Yegon finished second ($40,000) and third ($30,000) respectively in the men’s event. In the women’s event, Ethiopians Alennesh Herpha and Kebena Chala took the second ($40,000) and the third position ($30,000).
The dominance from the Ethiopian and Kenyan athletes is a now normalcy as no Nigerian has ever won the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon in its four-year existence. This drew amusing outcry from Nigerians on social media.
“If after four years, no Nigerian has won this marathon. The prize money goes to another country/economy. Then of what importance is the marathon beyond the vendors and suppliers of the kits #LagosCityMarathon,” Twitter user @unclefunbi wrote.
“I would have been the first Nigerian to win this marathon, but I am still at home eating noodles. #LagosCityMarathon,” @isiakakarimot wrote.
“How can you say that Nigerian Guys can’t win Marathon to make it in life, but they can run away from Pregnancy,” @thepamilerin wrote.
There was however some other prizes for Nigerians. The first Nigerian to get to the finish-line, Gideon Goyet got N3m while the second and third got N2m and N1m respectively.
In point of fact, nobody left a loser from the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon especially the non-professionals who ran the 10km from the Eko Link Bridge to the finish-line at the Eko Atlantic.
More than 7000 runners participated in the 10km race and no losers, they all won and had stories to tell about the 2019 Lagos Marathon. Success stories of resilience, determination and strength.
There was no cash prize for these runners, most of them had a medal around their necks, medals they were given when they registered for the race. The unregistered runners had no medals but they had the triumph of executing a hard and grueling exercise.
“We ran this city,” a banker called Raymond told Pulse Sports at the finish line. Raymond had his girlfriend at the Eko Atlantic waiting and cheering him up as he raced breathlessly to the finish line.
Jackson Scott Chigbo, a businessman ran the 42km, he got a knee injury halfway but still got to the finish line. For him, the fulfillment came in the unseen strength he had to run himself to ground for.
“It’s about the determination you are forced to come up with that I love about this,” Chigbo told Pulse Sports.
“I was tired when I got to 10km, but I told myself, get to 15, from there get to 20.
“That was how I got to the finish line. And it was fun, I’m glad I did this.”
There were countless stories like this at the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon on Saturday. From bankers to businessman and people from all walks of lives.
People of all ages too. Chidera a seven-year-old was there with her mum too. She ran the 10km race and got to the finish line. It took her and her mum more than four hours, but they got there, excited and jubilant.
“She was the one who was urging me, at a point, I wanted to turn back home,” Chidera’s mum told Pulse Sports.
Young, old, able, disabled. They were all there to get the thrills of their determination and strength.
There was also N1m prizes and a plot of land each for winners of both the men and women’s events of the wheelchair race.
It wasn't also just about running to prove one’s mettle or threshold, there were a couple of good racers chasing good causes at the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.
“Everyone can be a part of this and for us, we have chosen to use this opportunity to do something to benefit the Sickle Cell patients,” Toyin Adesola, Executive Director, Sickle Cell Advocacy and Management Initiative (SAMI) said.
Adesola and the SAMI ran in this marathon to raise funds to support people living with sickle cell disorder who need immediate care and have insurmountable medical bills to pay.
Access Bank, who are the main sponsors of the Lagos City Marathon have promised bigger support for next year.
”Access Bank will ensure this marathon gets better every year as we target world class outings till we achieve the silver and gold label rating from IAAF,” Group Managing Director of Access Bank Herbert Wigwe said at the closing ceremony.
“The brave spirit of the men and women that ran today represent the core value of Access Bank’s journey to becoming Africa’s gateway to the world.
“Our focus is advancing Nigeria’s blossoming drive for health and fitness. We have made it our responsibility to encouraging the general public and create value for stakeholders.”