Today marks 30 days to go until the start of the seventh Okpekpe International 10km Road Race which is scheduled to hold on Saturday May 25 in Okpekpe,a rural and hilly town in Etsako East local government area of Edo state.
Zack Amodu,the race’s director of organisation has assured of a bigger and better race organised in strict accordance with International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) competition rules.
The race, elevated by the IAAF to a silver label status last year, will however hold with the aim of getting it upgraded to a first ever gold label road race in West Africa by next year.
“This year’s race will be organised with a gold label template because we have applied for a gold label status for next
year’s race,” said Amodu who is confident organisers will pull off another world class event on May 25,2019.
“We have the experience and the trust by the IAAF that we can deliver a world class race. Right from the inaugural edition of the race, we have proved to be up to the task as far as the technical organisation of the race is concerned and this was recognised by the IAAF who first granted us a bronze label status in 2015,the first ever in Nigeria nay West Africa.
We also proved we can organise a label event without supervision and the result is the elevation to a silver label status,”he said.
Amodu reveals organisers of the race are not unaware of the new changes that have been made to the IAAF Label regulations for 2019 and the fact that all label races must have a minimum of six men and six women from the pool of athletes whose status corresponds to the Label being applied for. This will ensure that a Gold Label race, for example, has at least 12 of the world’s 300 best specialists at that particular distance.
“This will make this year’s race the most competitive in the seven year old history of the event. We are going to have a minimum of 12 gold level running athletes for this year’s race and we don’t have to start looking for them all over the world. If we can get all 12 from Kenya, so be it,” he said, and believes Nigeria,in no distant future, will start having athletes who fall into these categories.
“The previous rules obliged label race organisers to have elite athletes from at least five countries. From 2019 that rule will no longer exist, meaning races can, (a) focus on building stronger elite fields and (b) aspire to a label even with domestic elite athletes who are on the pool of the required status.
“Our prayer will be to have many Nigerian athletes who will fall into the gold label category or other labels for other road races in Nigeria that are yet to be granted labels or those who are yet to move from bronze label to the next stage.”