The Okpekpe international 10km road race has been elevated to an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Silver Label event.
This good news was conveyed to the promoter of the race, Mike Itemuagbor, by Alessio Punzi,the IAAF Road Running Manager.
”Following a thorough review of your application; in recognition of the role played by your event for the promotion of elite road racing in your region, and of your efforts towards the improvement of the technical aspects of the event, the IAAF is happy to inform you that the Okpekpe Road Race 10KM is upgraded to IAAF Silver Label status for 2018,’wrote Punzi in an email to Itemuagbor.
Spokesman for the race, Dare Esan, says organisers of the history-making race is happy about the development.
“We are delighted the IAAF has recognised our leading role in promoting road running in Nigeria and the West African sub-region. The Okpekpe international 10km road race has set the pace for other road races in Nigeria nay West Africa. We are the first road race in West Africa to be designated by the IAAF as one of the leading road races around the world since the classification was introduced in 2008.For three years since 2015 the race was organised under the prestigious IAAF Road Race Bronze Label and and now we are the first
road race to be granted a silver label status in West Africa,” said Esan.
He revealed the official Label certificate signed by the IAAF president, Lord Sebastian Coe, has been received by the organisers of the race.
“The success story of the Okpekpe international 10km road race would not have been possible without the active role played by the Edo State government who provided the enabling environment, including a world class tarred road from Auchi to the hilly town of Okpekpe.
We are particularly grateful to His Excellencies, Comrade Adam Oshiomole, the immediate past governor of Edo State under whose watch the race was launched and his successor, Godwin Obaseki, whose advice and words of encouragement have made the race better.We are also grateful to the Honourable Minister of Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung, who availed us of his presence at the fifth edition of the race on May 13 this year.”
Esan believes the roles played by sponsors and media partners of the race as well as the Nigeria Police, the Directorate of state security (DSS), the Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) have been massive.
“SuperSport and Channels are our official media partners and they, like the rest of the media, have projected the race, the hilly town of Okpekpe, Edo State and indeed Nigeria as a destination of sort in terms of sports. We also thank our sponsors led by Ecobank for helping us achieve this historic feat,” Esan added.
The sixth edition of the race will hold on Saturday May 12 in Okpekpe in Etsako East local government of Edo state and Esan reveals it will be technology driven.
“In 2015 we scored another first when we engaged MYLAPS Sports Timing, the internationally recognised automatic sports timing company to provide the race withan easy to use,accurate and reliable timing system.
Last year we also launched a tracking application to help fans follow the progress of friends, family or any of the participants who ran at the fifth edition of the race last May.
“The tracking application was the first to be launched for a road race in Nigeria and offers mobile features designed to address three core digital needs:information delivery, sponsor activation and race day experience.”