June 18, 2024

The new kid on the marathons and road races blocks in Nigeria, the Abuja International Marathon, made a big statement in its maiden edition on Saturday, April 29, 2023, as the men and women elite category winners, set new winning times for an inaugural international marathon in Nigeria.

Kenyan Emmanuel Naibet winning time of 2:13: 45 was faster than the previous record 2: 16:21 set by compatriot Abraham Kiptum at the 2016 edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.

Even the time returned by the second-placed Kenyan duo of Benard Sang 2: 13: 49 and Ezekiel Koech 2:13:51 were faster than the time returned by Kiptum.

The women’s elite field winner at the Abuja International Marathon Ruth Jabet from Bahrain won in a time of 2: 36: 08 this is also a record for a first marathon. It is faster than Ethiopian Halima Hussein Kayo’s 2:38:36 winning rime at the 2016 Access Bank Lagos Bank City Marathon.

Meanwhile, Olukayode Thomas, the Race Director of Abuja International Marathon, on behalf of Unicentral Resources Generation Limited the licensee of the race has expressed profound gratitude to all the runners that participated in the first international in FCT especially the fun runners and the students’ runners.

“We also thank everyone in FCTA from the Senior Minister, the Junior Minister, the Permanent Secretary, the Mandate Secretary, the Director of Sports and all members of the LOC and other staff.

“We are grateful to Omoyele Sowore, Tope Fasua, Aku Aghazu, Queenette Auta, members of Abuja Run Club and others who encouraged hundreds to run with them. We thank Rotimi Pedro and company AfroSports that beamed Abuja to a global audience for four hours for the first time. We are also grateful to security agencies especially the Civil Defense, VIO and DSS”.

Thomas said his transition from reporting to the organization and managing sports events would not have been possible without tutorials from Yussuf All the Executive Chairman of Edo State Sports Commission, “From the day former Sports Minister Bolaji Abdulahi nominated me into the board AFN in 2013 Alli has been mentoring me on the technical aspects of athletics. Even in the build to Abuja International Marathon during and after I always consult the ‘godfather of marathons and road races in Nigeria. I also thank Unicentral management for giving me the platform to practice what Alli has taught over the years.”

Thomas said the biggest thank goes to the biggest stakeholder in sports, the media, “without the media, the Abuja International Marathon will probably remain an idea, I thank my colleagues for their immeasurable contributions.”

Thomas said, “Now that Unicentral has removed the blemish of Abuja being the only iconic capital in Africa without an international marathon, residents of FCT and visitors from all parts of the world should look forward to a bigger and better Abuja International Marathon.”