—Arita,Juma,Gudeta Lead Elite Athletes cast for race
A record 15 gold level-running elite athletes have been confirmed to race for the men and women’s titles and the $15,000 top prize at the fifth Okpekpe international 10km road race this Saturday in Okpekpe near Auchi in Edo State.
Zack Amodu, Okpekpe race director of organisation, revealed at the weekend that six women and nine men who are gold level elite runners made the final list of athletes for the race.
Kenya’s Stephen Omiso Arita,Tanzania’s Ismail Juma and Ethiopia’s Netsanet Gudeta will lead the cast of gold-level running elite athletes who are expected to jet in from this Wednesday for the race.
Arita is the 10th fastest 10 kilometres runner so far this year courtsey of the 27:59 seconds he ran to win the XV 10km Villa de Laredo 2017 in Laredo, Spain and will be coming to Okpekpe not only to become the fourth Kenyan to win the men’s title but also erase from history books the 28.35 seconds course record set by Teshome Mekonnen in 2014.
The Kenyan will however be up against such quality competitors as Tanzania’s Juma who ran 28:58 seconds to place eight at the IAAF Gold Label World’s Best 10k in San Juan, Puerto Rico last February;defending champion Simon Cheprot of Kenya who will be seeking to become the first man to successfully defend an Okpekpe title and Turkey’s Kaan Kigen Ozbilen who holds a 27:25 seconds personal best over 10km and placed 17th in the marathon event at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil last year.
Also tipped to be amomg the competitors for the Okpekpe title and top cash prize are Edwin Nyandusi Mokua of Kenya who holds a 27:38 seconds lifetime best in the event,compatriots Emmanuel Kiprono Kipsang who ran 27:47 seconds to place third in the 10km race in Praha last year and Wilson Kiprono Too whose personal best of 27:39 was achieved way back in 2013 as well as Ethiopia’s Fikadu Haftu who also ran a lifetime best of 27:46 seconds last year.
In the women’s category,Gudeta who came third at the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships will battle compatriot,Alemtsehay Asefa for the title. Asefa ran 32:39 seconds last March at the Oujda international 10km in Morocco and looks to be the woman to beat.
Amodu is thrilled by the quality of the elite athletes coming for the race and predicts new course records for both the men and the women’s race.
“Almost all the athletes we have registered for the men and the women’s race have personal best times far better than the 28 minutes and 35 seconds and 32 minutes and 41 seconds course records set in 2014 by Ethiopian duo of Teshome Mekonnen and Wude Ayalew respectively.We have an athlete who has broken 28 minutes this year which means we are likely going to see a first sub 28 minutes time for the first time at the Okpekpe race.We are also hoping to get a sub-32 minutes runner come Saturday in the women’s category,” said Amodu who assured that everything is set for another successful edition of the race.
“The IAAF has set requirements for us to follow as a bronze label event and I can tell you we have met all the requirements and have even moved several steps higher,” he continued. “What we are waiting for is just for the race day to be here so that we can put into practice all we have been doing in terms of keeping to the requirements.
“We have met the requirement concerning the number of elite athletes that must be present for a bronze label event.In fact we have met the requirement for a gold label event which,considered alongside other requirements which we have also met will facilitate our upgrade into a silver label event,’he further said and revealed they have met other conditions like insurance cover for the athletes, the equality of the prize money,doping controls and other requirements outlined by the IAAF.
The Okpekpe international 10km road race is powered by Pamodzi Sports Marketing, leaders in sports marketing and hospitality business in Nigeria.
It is the first and only road race in Nigeria whose race course has been measured by an IAAF/AIMS accredited measurer and has been granted full membership of Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS).