Lagos ready to host marathon amid reported cash crunch

Steve Ayorinde

The Lagos State Government has affirmed its readiness to host over 20,000 local and international marathoners in the Access Bank/Lagos City Marathon scheduled for Saturday, February 6.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, said all logistics have been put in place and Lagos is ready to host the event as well as replicate an international version of the event in the state come Saturday.

Vanguard, however, reports that the local organising committee of the race has been hit by cash crunch and Governor Akinwummi Ambode is expected to sign some cheques today to keep the race on track.

According to the newspaper, Access Bank has demanded an account of the monies so far spent, before they could release more funds.

“We have been here since morning waiting for race t-shirts and other things we need, but we have been asked to wait till Saturday morning,” said one of the athletics officials at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Thursday.

The LOC chairman, Deji Tinubu was not available for comment.

Ayorinde, however, confirmed that several renowned marathoners from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and other countries are already in town for the event, while local and other athletes are fully prepared to participate in the event.

He said the state government has put in place water-tight security measures to protect athletes and other participants in the international event adding that a team of motorized and motorbike escorts have been provided to monitor the event throughout the duration of the race.

“Similarly we have put in place a team of fully trained and well equipped medical team that will accompany all the participants from the kick-off of the race to the end”, Ayorinde said.

He said a combined team of traffic managers will also be on ground to control traffic along the designated routes, while alternate routes have also been provided for motorists during the seven-hour event.

“The Lagos State Government is therefore appealing to Lagosians to come out en masse and cheer these athletes as well as encourage them during the course of the race,” he said.

While regretting any inconvenience the traffic restriction would cause during the period, the commissioner said Lagosians are reminded that the gains inherent in hosting the event will further boost the economy of the state as well as promote Lagos as a destination worthy of visit by tourists, sportsmen and investors.

However Athletics Federation of Nigeria president, Solomon Ogba assured that the event is on course and will hold as scheduled.

“Already we have the elite athletes on ground. They are being kept at the Eko Hotels, even at that we have more than the number of international athletes we expected, and we have put them in hotels around Surulere.

“It is an Olympic year and most of the athletes here are aiming to run and get qualification times. So we are looking forward to a good start and finish on Saturday,” Ogba said.

Three bus load of international athletes were seen at the Teslim Balogun stadium.

One of the athletes, Peter Kiplagat who won the 2015 Geneva Marathon said he hopes to finish the 42km race inside 2hrs 17 minutes adding that the time should see him among the top finishers.

“I am very excited to be in Lagos for their first City marathon, I have been training hard for this, this is my first time in Lagos and this is also my first big race of the year, I am here to win, I hope that happens on Saturday” Kiplagat declared.

The race with a total prize money of N92 million will start at the National Stadium Lagos and finish at the Eko Atlantic City.